No room for artists

The Button Factory hosts studio space for local artists •  ANNA BEARD ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR
The Button Factory hosts studio space for local artists • ANNA BEARD ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR

Studio space and resources are few. What’s an artist to do?

Cristina Alumdevar

With Kitchener’s healthy reputation as a growing arts community, and the region actively supporting the arts, it’s a surprise that it’s still a challenge to find the space to create art.

The hunt for studio space has always been difficult, but local artists are coming up empty in their search.

“It truly was fairly difficult to find a space in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Most places have long wait lists of artists waiting for safe and affordable studio space. The key words there being safe and affordable,” said Desiree Lichty, marketing manager at The Button Factory and independent artist.

“Working as a professional artist is just like running a small business. Often times finding spaces that are clean and safe and in a budget range that can be attainable is rare. I can only think of a handful of affordable studio spaces off hand.”

Over the past decade, there have been organizations created to help artists struggling to find a place, such as Globe Studios and Creative Enterprise Initiative (CEI), but there are still challenges.

“I’m not aware of any city sites that talk about studio space for artists,” said Litchey. “It needs to happen – even if they provide information to the not for profit organizations in the area. I don’t think they have that on their website.”

The problem may in part be because local government is simply not aware that there are so many artists looking for space in Waterloo.

“The Region does support the arts but not in a studio space kind of area,” said Lichty. “I don’t think anyone has brought it to the attention of the region how many local artists there are and how big of a need for a studio space that is a safe and affordable environment.”

While artists are finding resources scarce , the arts community has taken it upon themselves to try to create affordable studio space for in-coming artists. Places such as Globe Studios, The Button Factory and Station 2 Studios have become well-known and respected resources within the arts community.

“I guess we’re part of the problem as artists because we haven’t really cried out asking for more and letting them know of this need,” said Lichty on a potential solution on how to begin to fix the problem.

“I do feel valued within the community but [the City of Waterloo] has a ways to go. They recognize that there’s a great community for technology but I do notice a small increase with their awareness with their dealings of the culture section of the community.”