Urban Planner II, the City of Asheville
I just attended a presentation July 29th 6:00 to 8:00 in West Asheville. I had some strong reactions to the presentation which I expressed to various members of the audience and I think, committee representatives of various interests in the discussion.
I was asked by A City Council member and others to express my thoughts officially and I hope that this will suffice in that regard.
First, let me say that I was I participant in the first design charet organized by river link in the late 80’s. I worked and had a studio in the district before the fire of 1995. I designed and produced the first poster for the very first studio stroll, which I helped organize. I have been a maker in Asheville since 1979 and know a little bit about the history. I have no skin in the district game. I have no property in the district. I am however concerned about the constant hype about the river “ARTS” district and what that means and how it is perceived in it’s broadest context. I would add that I am and have been concerned for many years about the sustainability and viability of such protestations in light of the young emerging maker; who the presenter tonight proposed, people would want to “rub shoulders” with. My memory of the first charet was largely about the river. There was little expectation in those days about development beyond recreational use of the river and cleaning up the trash and pollution.
Tonight’s presentation seemed a guide to real estate planning and development opportunities with a regular reference to a need to maintain the arts designation in the context of the market. My position is that: that pony left the barn some years ago. There is little of substance in the district to commend it as an arts destination. Clearly there are exceptions, but few in my opinion. Hence my indignation that the arts are used as they often are, to promote real estate interests. Without any real knowledge of the difficulties of the young maker, and old, to withstand the interests of profiteers. While using the hook of the arts, they focus on the bottom line. I have seen this manifest itself in many communities and know the routine. It is a done deal here, I know. However, I for one will continue to speak out against this criminal appropriation of “Art” as a leverage for profit. While young talented makers emerge and struggle with the insurmountable odds of success, they at least need concrete solutions to housing and work space issues in our town. We simply owe them this if we are to promote Asheville as an arts destination. I used the word pathetic in response to the presentation, to the presenter and others that I spoke to. I would add shamefully to pathetic.
Pleas forward to those committees and individuals who have an interest.
Respectfully Kevin T. Hogan
273 Pearson Dr.
Asheville, NC 28801 828-772- 0330
Last night I left a comment on this site in which I was highly critical of the presentation given in West Asheville.I called for concrete solutions for makers living and work space problems. Largely availability, quality and affordability. As I lay in my bed last night unable to sleep listening to frogs in our pond; I realized I should propose some solutions myself. So, here are a few that are not my ideas , but have been talked about in my small circle of friends. I realize that not all of these ideas relate to the form code issue or urban planning per se. however if the objective is to maintain and build the perception that the RAD and Asheville are arts destinations and art friendly? they make sense to me. #1 if you don’t have a sufficient inventory of “marginal ” structures to accommodate the demand for raw studio space? Build it. My friend Ken Lambla, Dean of Art and Architecture at UNCC has been promoting this idea in Charlotte where developers or non-profits build simple, raw open structures to code and allow tenants to upfit them as they see fit to keep costs down and maximize flexibility of use. #2 create an affordable studio program that would bring building owners into partnership with arts organizations to designate a small portion of their property to selection process that would award below market studio rent to deserving emerging makers, with a tenure of one year or more. #3 Partner with a substantial local non-profit to umbrella a program that would purchase a building or buildings to provide affordable live/work space. Recently done in Portland O. #4 Create an annual creative workforce grant. $20,000 annually to individuals who demonstrate excellence and or need. A program exists like this in Cleveland Ohio and is funded by a sin tax, on cigarettes and alcohol. #5 which relates to #2 and could be city wide. Create a residency program for makers of all levels of development; where short term residencies are offered by invitation or competition. Facility would be the key here and could simply be one week in someones home with a lecture, two weeks working at Clayworks,, or several months in a studio with an exhibition. #6 create an apprentice/intern program where accomplished makers can apply for the benefit of a young interested high school or college aged person to assist in the studio. I recently benefited in my studio from such a program out of Bennington College. Now…I also thought the presentation last night lacked vision and inventiveness. There was nothing to capture the imagination of the public and create a buzz. To that end…Stairs down the hill to increase access to the RAD? How about a funicular to connect downtown with the RAD. How about a gondola to do the same and perhaps go on to East West Asheville. Fantasy? perhaps, but you must at least appear to be visionary to capture the attention and imagination of the public. I think they have a gondola in Austin. Isn’t that where are distinguished code expert are from? Looking for a brighter more equitable future. Yours, Kevin Hogan
I am absolutely sick of the city wasting our taxpayer money on “River Arts District” and other special areas. Stop spending dollars to benefit a few people and take care of the neglected city. Asheville has some of the highest taxes in the nation but provides the least services to the general population. Most money is spent on small special interest groups. Fix the potholes, the stormwater problems, the overgrown streets, the lack of enough police officers on duty, the other failing infrastructure, and the many other problems. Stop giving certain areas special zoning. Start enforcing zoning and stop letting developers do whatever thay want. Council stop rewarding the few who bought your election.
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