Eastside visual artists with studios in their homes have come under scrutiny from the city in recent months after a rash of complaints about these live/work spaces possibly violating city code. The upshot is that some artists may have to do a little home-improvement work to bring their studios in line with state and federal regulations. Of course, most such artists don't have a big home-thrown pot full of cash sitting around that they can dip into to pay for such upgrades, so what are they to do? The Austin Creative Alliance has an idea, one borrowed from economic practices in the developing world: microlending. Artists needing to address health and safety issues in their work spaces would be able to take out low-interest loans for as much as $5,000 from a dedicated fund and pay them back on schedules considerably more forgiving than most banks. The repaid loan money then goes back into the fund for other artists to borrow.
Since most of the artists affected by the code crackdown are among the hundreds that take part in the annual East Austin Studio Tour, the Creative Alliance approached the folks at Big Medium, which sponsors the tour, with the microloan notion, and they're moving the program into high gear this week with a fundraiser for what they've dubbed the Frameworks EAST Fund. The event, to be held Wednesday, June 29, will feature live music – the Ron Titter Band opens at 8pm, followed by the Pons at 9:15pm – and refreshments. You can make your contribution to the fund by purchasing art and services from Eastside artists in silent and live auctions, or if you want to make a big splash, by signing on as a sponsor: apprentice ($250), journeyman ($500), or master ($1,000).
The plan is to make the Frameworks EAST Fund loans available by late July, so artists will be able to upgrade their spaces in plenty of time for the 2011 East Austin Studio Tour, Nov. 12-20. Creative Alliance Membership Services Director Anne-Marie McKaskle will be the point person for applications, and any artist registered for EAST is eligible for a loan. The artist doesn't even have to own the space being used; an application may be made by the owner at the artist's request. And if artists aren't sure what corrections may need to be made, the alliance will offer individual consultations with private inspectors, as well as classes and legal referrals as needed. ACA interim Executive Director Marcy Hoen says, "Once we have developed best practices with this fund and program, we will develop additional programs like this one that will extend to the larger creative community as well as addressing other funding needs."
Frameworks EAST – A Microlending Fundraiser will be held Wednesday, June 29, 7:30-11pm, at ND at 501 Studios, 501 N. I-35. For more information, visit www.austincreativealliance.org or www.eastaustinstudiotour.com.
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