Art studios by the dozens coming to Governors Island

Part of Building 301, which Spaceworks, will convert to artist studios. Photo couresy of Spaceworks.

Part of Building 301, which Spaceworks, will convert to artist studios. Photo courtesy of Spaceworks.

ORIGINALLY POSTED OCT. 16, 2014  | BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC  | Spaceworks, a non-profit that offers affordable studio space for artists, is renovating an over 20,000-square-foot building on Governors Island.

The renovation will cost around $4.5 million, and the capital funds are coming through the city’s Dept. of Cultural Affairs. Once completed, it will house 43 visual art studios, a performance/rehearsal space and a possible community space/gallery. The studios will range in size, from about 180 to 200 square foot and two studios will be around 596 sq. ft.

“We started talking to the Trust for Governors Island sometime ago about doing Building 301,” said Paul Parkhill, executive director of Spaceworks, in a phone interview. “Governors Island was one of the initial public projects that was identified kind of early on in our evolution as a potential space.”

Building 301 is a one-story red-bricked structure with a modified L-shaped plan and was formerly P.S. 26 and a child development center, which served children of Coast Guard personnel. Spaceworks will sign a 20-year license agreement with the Trust.

Construction is slated to begin next spring. Turner Construction will manage the bidding process that will start later this year and Douglas Hassebroek of BRB Architects is the architect.

“Because it’s a public building and we’re using public capital funds the process takes some time,” said Parkhill, who presented the plans before Community Board 1 last month.

Parkhill said the project should be complete by the end of 2015 and that he hopes to be filling up the studios in the spring of 2016.

Once the site is up and running, there will be some challenges to bringing the artists’ materials to the island because ferry service ends at 6 p.m. Overlooking Buttermilk Channel, Building 301 is near Yankee Pier and the Brooklyn ferry stop. Spaceworks plans on working with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, who runs the Arts Center at Governors Island.

“L.M.C.C. has come up with a variety of strategies for how they work with their artists who do residencies there so we’re going work closely with them to try to coordinate efforts,” he said.

Building 301 on Governors Island. Courtesy of Spaceworks.

Building 301 on Governors Island.
Courtesy of Spaceworks.

The idea for affordable artist studios in all five boroughs began in the Dept. of Cultural Affairs during the Bloomberg administration. Worries that high rents were driving artists away prompted the agency to hire a consulting firm to create a business model. Then Parkhill, who has worked for non-profits for 20 years, was hired in the spring of 2012.

For Governors Island, Spaceworks hopes to partner with small arts organization from each of the five boroughs.

“Since Governors Island is technically in Manhattan but really a five-borough resource and not exactly of any of the boroughs, we thought it made sense to try to bring organizations from around the city to participate in the program there,” he said.

There are different applications for performing and visual artists, who get a studio space for a year. Visual artists must submit a resume, artist statement and portfolio online. Then a panel reviews the artist’s application and ensures that the artist is currently working, showing and committed to using the space on a regular basis.

“The thing we’re most concerned about is people getting the spaces and then not using them,” said Parkhill.

After the vetting process, a lottery is then used to determine who gets the space. Currently, Spaceworks has two projects in Long Island City and Gowanus, and is working with the Brooklyn Public Library to offer space at certain branch locations. To rent a space for an hour can cost from $12 to $16 and monthly rent is around $350.

A rendering of a dance studio. Courtesy of Spaceworks.

A rendering of a dance studio.
Courtesy of Spaceworks.

Parkhill said there will probably be price restructuring for the Governors Island space, but that the rates will be reasonable.

“The mission of the organization is to create affordable space. Regardless of where it ends up, we will strive to keep it quite affordable,” he said.

Part of Building 301, which Spaceworks, will convert to artist studios. Photo couresy of Spaceworks.

Part of Building 301, which Spaceworks, will convert to artist studios. Photo courtesy of Spaceworks.

 

 

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