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Raleigh in 2022: An artist’s place to call home

How could Raleigh be better for more communities in 2022? We asked local community leaders and doers to share their ideas for the future. 

Next up: Carly P. Jones is an arts executive and performing artist recently named the President + CEO of Artspace in Downtown Raleigh. Prior to her work at Artspace, Jones served the state of North Carolina as the Senior Program Director for Artists & Organizations at the NC Arts Council within the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, where she oversaw the statewide organization grants and individual artist resources for artists across all disciplines.

As a performing artist in opera, musical theater, classic and contemporary theater, she seeks to elevate social consciousness through the arts.

Her extensive leadership includes serving on the Board of Directors for WakeUp Wake County, work with Arts NC, The Black on Black Project, Dix Park Master Planning Advisory Committee, and her recent inclusion in the inaugural cohort of the South Arts Emerging Leaders of Color program.

By Carly P. Jones

Having grown up in the City of Oaks, I am proud that Raleigh has become one of the hottest places to live in the country.

This city has attracted movers and shakers from all sectors of the economy to my hometown, including tech, business, and the arts.

However, as I have watched Raleigh grow, it is impossible to ignore the skyrocketing rent and housing prices.

While growth is certainly desirable and inevitable, I believe that in order to remain an inclusive and creative community, we must make sure that Raleigh remains an equitable and affordable place to live.

Like many in our community, I have read the think-pieces and articles about housing affordability, and I have talked with others about various creative ideas to address this issue. This topic personally touches a wide range of people from across our region, which is why the housing quandary will require a combination of innovative responses that include diverse perspectives from across our communities.

One of those communities is the growing melting pot of artists that live in our region. Our city requires a bustling arts and culture scene to create jobs, spur economic development, entice younger demographics, and foster community pride and dialogue.

Unfortunately, many of the artists creating the work we consume cannot afford to live in the very city where we are consuming it. I currently serve as the President + CEO of Artspace in Downtown Raleigh, which is a nonprofit that provides accessible arts education, art exhibition and community connection spaces, and low, subsidized-rated artist studio spaces for visual artists at the heart of our city.

We offer studio spaces for artists to work and create, but I have not yet seen a solution for artists to also live in Raleigh affordably. As rent skyrockets and the city is continuing to be developed, artists are a part of the broad range of people being displaced and being forced to move farther outside of Raleigh. 

When I talk about “artists,” I am referring to a cross-section of working professionals within visual art, music, dance, theatre, film, and literature. Many artists also have families to support and work multiple jobs to support those families. A number of these artists also identify as a part of LGBTQ+ communities, or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. They have concerns like many others in our communities about accessible transportation, affordable and inclusive education, attainable healthcare, a healthy environment, and yes — housing. 

People within our community have started to explore models from across the country that provide creative solutions to artist housing and growing artist communities within urban development plans. Raleigh would certainly benefit from these ideas.

Personally, I would like to see more repurposing of public facilities and public land to provide artist housing options, which would cut down on development costs. I would also like to see developers keep artists in mind as part of their plans as they build.

We need to include artists within our multi-pronged approach to our overall housing issue in Raleigh. A healthy, robust arts and culture sector is a key part of the larger economic ecosystem and a crucial element in revitalizing and growing vibrant communities.

Creating affordable housing for artists — and the creativity, economic contributions and perspectives they bring — will be essential to Raleigh’s trajectory as a national treasure.

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