When properly cultivated, artists can be a powerful force for economic development. Many communities have found ways to help artists find venues for selling their goods directly to shoppers while simultaneously enlivening their commercial districts with energy and activity.

I’m currently working in a community where there are lots of artists living and creating art, but very few places for these same artists to sell their goods directly to consumers. Meanwhile, vacant stores front riddle an otherwise attractive commercial district…could this be a marriage made in heaven? Can these storefronts be temporarily occupied by pop-up retail stores that allow artists to sell their goods?

Here is a round-up of resources and ideas from other communities that have found ways to marry artists and econoimc activity, while simultaneously reviving their commercial districts.

One caveat that perhaps should go without say – don’t try this at home if you don’t have a genuine artist community to work with!

Tacoma, WA: “Artists to Use Vacant Retail Space in Tacoma”

New Haven, CT: “New Haven’s Department of Cultural Affairs Announces Storefront for Artists Pilot Program”

Chicago, IL: “Trading commerce for art: In the face of retail vacancies, Pop-Up Art Loop creates temporary galleries”

St. John, Virgin Islands: “Entrepreneur Series: Creative Collective”
This article discusses different models for how artists can set up cooperatives to pay for operating costs for retail space, including basic cost sharing, consignment or membership fees.

Brooklyn, NY: “Artists and Fleas”
This market, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is called “Artists & Fleas”, and has been wildly successful. Open only on the weekends, spaces are rented to emerging artists, designers, collectors, and crafters who set up shop and sell directly to customers.

Santa Fe, NY: “International Folk Art Market”
This market has achieved international acclaim and began as a way to provide folk artists an opportunity to generate income and sell their goods where they live.