An artist packing up and moving their studio in the face of rising rent isn't a new phenomena, so an arts advocate thought, why not make mobility a permanent part of the studio environment? Developed in concert by two non-profits, ArtBuilding and ArtHome, the ArtBuilt Mobile Studio is an 8.5-by-19.5 workspace with a tow hitch, built as a nomadic solution to the affordability crisis striking artists in cities across the country. According to Esther Robinson, the founder of ArtHome, the mobile studio was inspired by the tiny home trend and issues of gentrification in general, as well as the eviction of artists from studios in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood.
"What happens when all the small scale producers can't participate in the built environment and we price them out?" says Robinson. "How do we save our cities?"
Robinson will be showcasing the studio at an Ideas City event this Saturday in New York, and then begin a series of real-world trials in New York and Philadelphia, including partnering with the NYC Parks Department and the Queens Museum for two back-to-back "Studio in the Park" artist residencies this summer. Seeing how the concept operates within New York's thicket of regulations will be a big test.
With an estimated cost of $13,000 to $60,000, depending on how extravagant you get and how adept you are at carpentry, it's not for everyone. Robinson doesn't suggest all artists pony up for a mobile workspace, hit the road and form some urban wagon train of creativity. This is a solution that can work for some people, she says, and the complicated issue of affordable home and workspaces for artists requires testing out as many solutions as possible.
"It's like the food truck movement," she says. "These are tools, not answers. We're promoting a concept, a provocative idea that's small-scale and mobile. Everyone has to be mobilized on all fronts, every artist and small-scale producer, to figure out what we can do."