Residents say the best is yet to come for the Tannery Arts Center. Plus: A look at the center’s funding and the hurdles ahead.
One year ago, on a cold and drizzly November day, more than 100 artists and their families camped outside of the soon-to-be Tannery Arts Center with hopes of securing a residence. Today, nearly 230 people live in the 100 Tannery live/work units, where the household artists work on everything from painting to poetry, piano to ballet, and pottery to hip-hop.
The center, a long time in the making, began as a mere dream of Santa Cruz arts organizations that hoped for a day when local artists and nonprofits could have an affordable home. The Santa Cruz Cultural Council had completed a Cultural Action Plan in 1999 that assessed local arts, concluding that it was a $32 million per year industry that employed 750 full-time equivalents and paid $3 million in taxes, according to Tannery Arts Center Director George Newell. The hitch was the high cost of living that was sending local talent over the hill. “You need affordable housing, you need an affordable studio, and you need some venues in which to present your art,” says Newell, describing the findings of the study.