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Charlotte nonprofit seeking solutions for rising rents pricing out artists

As many fear artists are being priced out of the Queen City, a Charlotte nonprofit is seeking solutions by helping creatives find affordable workspaces.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Some people are worried that Charlotte artists are being pushed away because they can't find space to work, but one Queen City-based nonprofit is seeking solutions with some unique ideas. 

The problem is Charlotte's building boom means finding affordable space in the city is almost impossible. That's where Charlotte is Creative enters the picture, finding affordable workspaces for artists struggling to keep up with rising rent prices. 

Tanya Murphy is grateful to have her own space at the Charlotte Art League, but she's one of the lucky ones. 

"I was looking for another space in the community so I could get to know other artists, network and have shows, things like that," Murphy said. "Because it's vital for artists to have a place to get away from home."

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It's not easy, especially as Charlotte continues to grow. 

"It's not secret we've got a real estate boom," Tim Miner, co-founder of Charlotte is Creative, said. "Not to be anti-development, but spaces are getting snatched up all over. Creatives are having a hard time in a town where we've got a burgeoning art culture and a very passionate community."

Charlotte is Creative is a nonprofit that works to support creatives. Earlier this year, the group worked with UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute on a survey of 650 local creatives. It's clear what most people said is holding them back. 

"We asked 'what do you need to be a successful creative in Charlotte?'" Minor said. "Above everything else was affordable space."

Charlotte rents are skyrocketing. A 250-square-foot space would cost an artist about $500 a month. The study also revealed 44% of the artists earn less than $40,000 a year. Most of them work multiple jobs, so renting a workspace simply isn't attainable. 

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So Charlotte is Creative is getting creative to find new spaces for artists who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford somewhere to work. 

"We look at major employers and say you have a beautiful office. You're not using all that space, extra offices or a break room," Minor said. "What if you walk by and there's a painter or a videographer, or fashion designer sewing and creating?"

It's a simple concept they're hoping will take off. 

If you have a business and you'd like to partner with Charlotte is Creative to provide workspaces for artists, they're looking for commercial and real estate locations. Click here to learn how you can make a difference for artists in the Queen City

Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is committed to reporting on the issues facing the communities we serve. We tell the stories of people working to solve persistent social problems. We examine how problems can be solved or addressed to improve the quality of life and make a positive difference. WCNC Charlotte is seeking solutions for you. Send your tips or questions to newstips@wcnc.com.  

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