Cheap rent for work spaces might give young artists a leg up at the Westmoreland Cultural Trust's Incubator for the Arts.
Plans for the incubator began when Sean Daisher, a local artist better known by his persona, “The Rev. Daisher Rocket,” started renting space at the Cultural Trust headquarters in the Union Trust building on North Main Street in Greensburg.
“We just talked about the different aspects about how having a space here could make me more visible in the community,” Daisher said.
He's been in the building since August, sharing the space with another artist, and displaying his works in its windows. So far it's worked out for him — his commissions and sales have picked up since he moved into the studio, he said.
Conversations with Daisher and others spurred the staff at the trust to create the program making rooms available for artists to rent. Most of the rooms are on the first floor in the area that was occupied by Family Services until that organization moved out last year.
“We've had a lot of artists reaching out to us lately, and it has me thinking there's a need here,” said Kelli Brisbane, event coordinator for the cultural trust.
Renters pay $100 to $325 a month for the spaces. That includes utilities and Internet access, and artists will be able to access their studios at all times, day or night.
The rooms would cost much more if a traditional retail outlet were renting them, but the trust is able to subsidize some of the cost to help the artists, said Cultural Trust President Mike Langer.
“You can't charge market value to a struggling artist,” he said.
The trust expects its main tenants will be college students or other young artists.
Artwork will be displayed in the front window, blank walls near the building will be transformed into murals, and the trust will hold art exhibitions at the Palace Theatre to promote the incubator, Brisbane said.
This type of promotion is vital for a young, modern artist, Daisher said. Buyers are unlikely to discover an artist by accident in a crowded field, so taking steps to make art more visible can be essential, he said.
“To be an artist, you have to be on a whole new level of social mobility,” he said.
The incubator has seven studio spaces. If there's demand for more, the trust may expand the program to an additional building, Langer said.
The studios will be tested out over the next year or so before expansion is considered, but Langer said there are signs that the arts are flourishing locally and that demand could develop.
“By all indications, the art scene and the culture scene in Greensburg and Westmoreland County is growing,” he said.