Newburgh for Artists

It has been repeatedly seen that gentrification of neighborhoods happens by means urban pioneers– usually young, educated, career oriented individuals. As wikipedia put it, “they have a high tolerance for urban ills, (crime, poor-quality schools, lack of amenities like shops and parks, and the presence of disadvantaged racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups) that may dissuade middle class families.” Some may argue against gentrification. But if it can get rid of abandoned houses, lower crime, and restore crumbling buildings is that really such a bad thing?

From the title it is obvious to see that I think it is essential to attract artists to the city. Where else can you find raw, historic, clean slate housing (like Williamsburg warehouses and lofts) for under $100k in commuting distance to NYC? Artists do not have to move so far away to other places like Philly and Mass. I can already see front doors of Newburgh dressed up like these:

Although some may feel that other serious problems need to be addressed of the city  first (such as quality of life crimes), artists are usually peaceable citizens who bring to the neighborhood qualities desired by middle class families (arts, shops, restaurants, bars etc…). They deserve attention. Assemblywoman Joan Millman said to AM New York, “artists come into communities that are rundown and sleazy and bring a life and vibrancy to that community-they are an economic engine and they shouldn’t be overlooked.” Governor Spitzer signed a bill that will give artists two-year grants of up to $12,000 for live-work spaces. These spaces however are mostly likely going to go to Brooklyn’s DUMBO. As the article mentions, DUMBO has already been gentrified. Why not give the grants for other areas such as Newburgh? The abandoned school on South Liberty (pictured above) would make a perfect haven for artists lofts, as well as remove this eye sore.
However, it is noteworthy that the city has taken steps in this direction with subsidized housing at the Cornerstone Residence. They are accepting applications from artists with certain income requirements. I just feel that this step should be taken further and whole buildings should be dedicated to this cause, not just 8 apartments out of 50. The city should give landlords a year to fix up their abandoned properties or give it to artists who will have to live their for a minimum of 5 years. It is also important for the thriving art-related businesses on Liberty such as Newburgh Arts Supply and Picture Framing by Eric Jarmann.

Already we have art gallerys such as Yellow Bird Gallery and Ann Street Gallery, right around the corner from Washington’s HQ. We have the Downing Film Center and the Ritz Theater (see links on left for more). But more should be done to create more gallerys, museums, and theater groups. People need to be attracted to Newburgh but not just to come and visit…but for them to come and MOVE in.

3 Comment

  • Unfortunately, Yellow Bird Gallery has been closed for over two years now. I think the building owner (who runs Downing Film Center) is hoping to reopen it eventually, but for now, it sits vacant.

    You should see what that school on Liberty looks like NOW. It’s horrendous. The plywood has fallen out of the windows, and the front is collapsing. Very sad! The building was bought by a developer planning to turn it into condos, but nothing of the sort has yet to materialize. (Unsurprisingly.)

  • Oh thanks. You always know little things I don’t. I saw the school last weekend. All the wood boards are gone and you can see inside how the stairs have collapsed. I hope something can be done with it soon!

  • I have to say I love where you are going with this. Although I'm coming across this post almost two years later, I think the idea is still great, and I'm glad to see your blog is still active. Aside from things like subsidized apartments (I tend to think subsidies were the downfall of the city), do you have any ideas that can help draw new people to reside in area? Every time I come across someone exploring the area, I always seem to get a “Thanks, but no thanks”.