Kris Swedin



The Arts + Creativity Center, envisioned as a vibrant hub where people working in creative industries gather to live, work, create, collaborate, rehearse, perform, conduct business and thrive, is closer than ever to becoming a reality.


The need for a facility of this type has been well documented through economic development and strategic planning studies over the past decade. Santa Fe needs to strengthen opportunities for young and emerging artists and creative business to keep them in our community.


You can support this project by investing 15 minutes of your time in planning the future of affordable creative space in Santa Fe. Creative Santa Fe has launched market surveys for artists, creative individuals, arts organizations and creative sector businesses in partnership with the city of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County and Artspace Projects, the country’s leading nonprofit developer of affordable creative spaces.


The survey will be available online through July 30 at Artists, arts organizations and for-profit creative sector businesses (including green-industry businesses) are all encouraged to complete the survey. This tool will provide critical data to help the community, the city and developers make educated choices and plan for future affordable spaces for arts, green industries and cultural activities. This project can only move forward if you participate by completing the survey. Results will be shared with the community in the fall of 2013.


Why is an Arts + Creativity Center Important?


Santa Fe’s arts and cultural industries are among the top economic drivers in Santa Fe and in the state of New Mexico. In Santa Fe County these industries generate more than $1 billion in receipts annually and employ almost 18 percent of the workforce.


One half of the total employment wages of $231 million are generated by industries that are directly engaged in the creation, presentation or preservation of art and cultural activities. The other half is generated by the slice of the tourism industry related to arts and culture (from UNM BBER Study: Economic Impact of Arts and Cultural Industries on Santa Fe County).


As impressive as these economic figures are, Santa Fe has lost its edge, as other communities have invested in spaces and programs to increase their market share. In order to increase creative jobs and improve the economic health of Santa Fe, the community needs to invest in the creative industries.


Santa Fe can do better


There are challenges to the strength of the arts and culture industries that must be addressed for Santa Fe:


  • The affordability crisis in housing and in studio, creation, commercial and sales spaces causes creative young talent to leave Santa Fe. This is especially true for emerging artists, young professionals just starting their careers and traditional Hispanic and Native American populations.


  • There is a weak tradition of entrepreneurship focused on the creative sector; investment networks are limited, and collaboration between the arts and cultural industries and new media technology has been weak, restricting the development of products and new markets.


  • Santa Fe is home to hundreds of arts, design, new media, green industry and creative students studying at local colleges—Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe Community College, St. John’s, and Santa Fe University of Art and Design. Santa Fe needs to act now to create and expand the businesses and jobs needed to support these new workers entering the workforce.


Affordable arts and creation spaces matter


Through more than 30 years of experience in developing and managing affordable arts spaces across the United States, and in working with all sizes of communities, Artspace has found that:


Affordable creative spaces benefit artists and creatives by:


  • Providing space that meets residential and professional needs at affordable rates


  • Catalyzing an arts community to become more than a sum of its parts


  • Increasing artistic production


  • Enhancing the professional reputations of individuals, and in some cases their income generated through creative activity


Affordable creative spaces benefit communities by:


  • Animating deteriorated historic structures and/or underutilized spaces


  • Bringing vacant and/or underutilized spaces back on the tax rolls and boosting area property values


  • Fostering the safety and livability of neighborhoods without evidence of gentrification-led displacement


  • Anchoring arts districts and expanding public access to the arts


  • Attracting additional artists, creative businesses, organizations and supporting non-arts businesses to the area


Please do your part. Invest 15 minutes of your time to make the Santa Fe Arts + Creativity Center a reality.



Kris Swedin is director of community action at Creative Santa Fe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening Santa Fe’s creative economy and to enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors through collaboration and innovation. Take the survey at




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