Can You Guess How Many Artists Live in Brooklyn? The Answer May Surprise You

Mural by Fin DAC at Bushwick Open Studios 2016. Photo by karindumaire

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    You might think all the artists have picked up and left Brooklyn, forced out by gentrification they helped create — but you would be wrong.

    A new study shows artists are flocking to Brooklyn, with many of its neighborhoods experiencing a huge increase in artists moving in over the past 15 years. However, rises in home prices and rents also make it hard for creatives to live and work in the borough.

    Artists in Schools: A Creative Solution to New York’s Affordable Space Crunch, from The Center for an Urban Future, shows that Brooklyn is home to seven of the 10 neighborhoods that have seen the largest increases in artist population citywide over the past 15 years. Bushwick saw the biggest increase in artist population of any neighborhood in New York City, going from 150 artists in 2000 to 1,824 in 2015, a 1,116 percent increase. Williamsburg/Greenpoint also saw a large increase in the number of artists living there from 2000, with a boost of 1,248 artists over a 15 year span, a 75 percent increase.

    The overall number of artists in the borough increased by 72 percent over the same period — to a grand total of 17,605 artists living in Brooklyn.

    Northwest Brooklyn had the highest increase in artist population of any area citywide during the study.

    Other Brooklyn neighborhoods that made the list were Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights/Fort Greene, Bed Stuy, Sunset Park, and North Crown Heights/Prospect Heights.

    The study also went on to report that while there are more artists in the city than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to find studio space in which to work. Their spread throughout the city has often meant they are far from facilities and studio space that allow them to create their work, and rising housing costs have put a strain on studios, venues and performance spaces.

    The study showed that while the number of artists living in Manhattan declined by 10 percent, it rose in Queens by 35 percent, and Staten Island saw and 8 percent gain from 2000 to 2015.

    The study argues that one possible remedy for the issue could be utilizing art spaces in schools that sit empty on weekends.

    The Center for an Urban Future is a public policy think tank that seeks to serve as “catalyst for smart and sustainable policies that reduce inequality, increase economic mobility, and grow the economy in New York City,” according to their mission statement. It was founded in 1996 as an offshoot of City Limits Magazine.

    The study’s data was derived from the CUF’s analysis of the 2015 American Community Survey. The survey allows respondents to give an occupation in their answers, providing the CUF with the proper data to draw the conclusions they did. The study looked at all five boroughs of New York City.

    Artists and members of the creative class are often seen as harbingers of gentrification. However, with studio space so expensive, artists could be forced to move elsewhere to work, which could strip Brooklyn of some of the creativity for which it is famous.

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