Doug Coupland, in a conversation with Pam Goldsmith-Jones in Whistler, made this observation (he has so many), as reported in the Whistler Question:

Whistler could learn a lesson from Las Vegas, according to Douglas Coupland. …

“I was in Las Vegas, which got absolutely destroyed in the crash of 2008,” Coupland said, perched on a stool at a table across from Goldsmith-Jones. “You drive around town and see those little mini malls — usually it’s ‘get your nails done,’ ‘doughnuts,’ but half of them are empty. The University of Nevada Las Vegas said, ‘OK, we’ll take those empty storefronts and give them to artists to use as artist spaces. So you’ll see fingernails, doughnuts and some weird thing that looks like a spider’s web with a head in the middle of it or something.”

The point: places like Whistler need to find innovative ways to support its artists with space. “You really need to have a place to live,” said Coupland, a West Vancouver resident. “It’s not all laptops at Starbucks. Once anyone has a place they’ll integrate into the community, but you have to feel like you’re not going to get booted out at any second.”

It was an observation I made to the Surrey Art Gallery some years ago.  SAG, in particular, suffers from its isolation, located as it is in Bear Creek Park.  But as the post below indicates, Surrey has no shortage of artists – just a shortage of studio and gallery space throughout the sprawling municipality.

So why not lease or buy some of the cheap space in the mini-malls that are reaching (or have passed) their best-before date?  The same thing happened with unpurposed loft space in industrial cities, notably in  SoHo in New York, that were legally or otherwise rented out or occupied by artists by owners who didn’t particularly care what the artists did inside them.  Every generation has to find its version of cheap space in transitional locations.

The loft space of today is in the mini-mall.

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