Augusta's art community packed into the Old Academy of Richmond County to get a glimpse of an art project in the making.
“This is one component of our big proposal that we have for Augusta, for the Mills Campus and the Cultural Campus downtown,” says Augusta Commissioner Mary Davis.
Although there were paintings on display, people weren't there to look at art, they were there to see the plans for affordable housing for artists. Non-profit developer Artspace Projects is working with the city of Augusta to survey the needs of creatives and artists in the area.
“I'm not from Augusta, so as a visitor, it's amazing to feel the interest in the arts community and to see how it brings together such a diverse group of Augustans,” says Artspace Project Manager Joe Butler.
Butler says his company came here a year ago to explore the potential for a project. Although they are waiting for the survey results before making any concrete plans, Butler says he expects the complex to have 35 to 50 housing units, with 5,000 to 10,000 square feet of non-residential space for artists to practice, produce, and exhibit art.
“We feel very excited to have been invited to Augusta. We realize that we are a small part of a big planning initiative, but we really want to make sure that arts and creative economy and creative place making are front and center in how Augusta continues to define itself,” says Butler.
Butler says that Artspace is looking at several different areas to build the affordable housing complex, but Davis says the plan is to build it downtown.
“You know this program, with the artspace program, is to focus around the Miller Theater, the Imperial, maybe a performing arts theater in downtown Augusta. It's really to bring all of us together in one area and make it a good working space and living space for artists to be comfortable and to be able to show their work,” says Davis.
Artspace and city leaders are asking the public to fill out the survey online. You can do so by going to ArtspaceAugusta.org