Fort Worth’s Near Southside district is undergoing a new development program to increase exposure for local artists and expand studio and residential space.
The ArtSouth program is aiming to improve the Near Southside’s relationship with the city’s creative community with opportunities for its artists to reside, grow and thrive, according to the Director of Events and Communication for Fort Worth South, Inc., Megan Henderson.
“ArtSouth is an artist residency program in support of emerging and professional artists seeking public art experience,” Henderson said. “The first project we are going to plan is an installation on Magnolia Avenue.”
The project includes the opportunity for artists to win a quarterly showcase. A board of local, professional artists and developers will select an artist each quarter who will receive a $4,000 stipend to create showcased work. The winner will also receive a residence, conjoined studio space and promotion by Fort Worth South, Inc. for one quarter. Selected artists will showcase their work in the mobile shipping container “ArtSouth Exhibition Space” during their residency.
“It has all the charm of a good publicity stunt,” Henderson said. “But all the bones of something that will be very important to us as a community–as an arts community in the long-term.”
With the rapid growth and popularity among the housing market in Fort Worth, Henderson said the ever-increasing demand to live in the Near Southside has created obstacles for artists to find adequate studio and residential space.
“We knew that artists were not necessarily being pushed out of the neighborhood, but they might have been priced out of the neighborhood,” Henderson said. “It’s getting harder for artists to compete with a market of people interested in this space.”
Jay Wilkinson, ArtSouth’s first selected artist, said even though he didn’t face trouble finding residential or studio space, the community still needs to accommodate the influx of artists who are wanting to work and live in this area of the city.
“I think it’s important to make room for artists or musicians that can guide the culture as it builds,” Wilkinson said. “ArtSouth is definitely a champion of that thought.”
As the project expands, Henderson said she hopes the project will help market other areas of the Near Southside community that are undeveloped.
“For the next iteration of ArtSouth, we’re going to go to a lesser known part of the neighborhood,” Henderson said. “We will always use the shipping container gallery as a way to draw attention to a development site where we hope there will be a project the public one day will want.”