Vital Spaces

Making Studio Space Affordable for Santa Fe Artists and Now Accepting Applications

If you are a creator and artist here in Santa Fe and haven’t yet heard about the incredible work Vital Spaces is doing for our creative community, we want to fill you in on the excitement surrounding the new nonprofit. Vital Spaces strives to make studio space for artists in Santa Fe affordable, and is currently holding an open call for local artists in need of or interested in studio space that will be far below the market rate for occupancy. If you want to apply, there is an online application open right now through May 28th with studio space opening up as early as June 15th.

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Jonathon Boyd is a fellow creator — as well as the mastermind behind this project — that takes vacant buildings in town and flips them into studio space. These spaces are open to artists of all backgrounds and mediums, and Boyd is looking for people that are ready and willing to be active participants in the Santa Fe arts community.

Jonathon Boyd for Vital Spaces, photo by Kate Russell.

The first building Vital Spaces acquired is 220 Otero Street, which once housed the offices for the Manhattan Project. The big, beautiful building sits right downtown in the heart of the city, and has ample parking and two levels of space for creative endeavors. The property, which was previously sitting vacant, is now an extremely low-cost, 24-hour studio space. This, however, is just one of the many vacant buildings around the city Boyd has his eye on, and he is working to amass more.

Santa Fe has been plagued by a severe lack of affordable housing for years. Our town, which is historic, picturesque, nestled near the mountains, and full of creative life, brings many new residents each year without the infrastructure in place to support them. In addition to the lack of affordable housing, another problem exists — lack of affordable studio space for artists. For Santa Fe, a town that prides itself on its artists, galleries and all-around vibrant creative culture, the lack of affordable studio space is a problem that desperately needs to be addressed.

Beyond Buckskin fashion line débuting in Santa Fe at the Vital Spaces Otero street location, photo by Shayla Blatchford.

Through this dilemma and simultaneous realization that things needed a drastic shift, the impetus of Vital Spaces took place. The project’s core mission is “to revitalize Santa Fe’s creative economy by partnering with property owners to transform unused real estate into spaces for artists to create, present, and connect.”

Captions: Signe Lindell, Santa Fe City Council and supporter of the Vital Spaces project at the recent MIX event, photo by JC Ramirez.

Boyd took notice of the empty buildings sitting around the city and thought, “why shouldn’t we and couldn’t we utilize these as working artist spaces?” He also asked, “Why wouldn’t the city want those places to evolve into something that was benefitting its residents and community?”

Right now, Vital Spaces is exploring partnerships with museums and looking into summer programs and youth workshops — not just private studio spaces — functioning off private donations and grants, and keeping strong to the idea that artists should be engaging with the community and contributing to it, not just working behind closed doors. Boyd sees a future full of community outreach, open studios, holiday classes and artist shows that are open to community members to attend.

Jamison Chas Banks working in a studio at the Otero Street location, photo by Shayla Blatchford.

As creatives and artists, it is imperative to have space to actually create. These studio spaces, Boyd hopes, will be brimming with creators of all backgrounds, and will offer an incredible opportunity to engage with our Santa Fe community, bringing a vibrance and feasibility to the art and those who want to engage with it.

The studio and work of Kevin McKenzie, who works in mixed media and sculpture, photo by JC Ramirez.

If you are intrigued and interested in applying, the link for the application can be found here!