Introducing Stable Spaces

Artists and art organisations need stable spaces in which to work. Effective and sustainable ways to secure those spaces are vital, so our creative future can thrive.

A common refrain from artists and arts organisations across the artforms is that they struggle to find affordable and appropriate spaces to operate in for the long term. This impacts on their ability to undertake long term planning and development and build sustainable communities. 

We need to think strategically about how to solve this and we need to develop practical tools and advice that we in the arts in Aotearoa can use to advocate for and create space stability. 

In 2022 Manatū Taonga funded me, Melissa Laing, to begin this process through the Innovation Fund.

The first step is to establish how arts organisations, collectives and businesses are currently housed. Stage one was a wide reaching cross sector survey undertaken over February and March 2023. The survey will provide evidence about the scale and impact of housing insecurity in the arts. 

Stage two will be in depth interviews with a small number of arts organisations who have taken a range of approaches to securing stable space to work from, using them as case studies to inform the wider sector of the options, opportunities and risks inherent in their approaches to securing stable spaces. 

Stage three is about designing solutions. This means looking at successful international models and working with an expert panel and consulting with legal, property, financial and fundraising experts to build a locally relevant toolkit to support artists and arts organisations along the journey towards a stable space. 

This research will take place over 2023 with outcomes published in 2024. 

Who is involved: 

The lead researcher is Dr Melissa Laing. She has worked in the arts since 1998, most recently as a community arts broker and consultant. She has a research PhD from the University of Sydney focusing on the intersection of contemporary art and international relations. Over the course of her career she has worked for public institutions and artist-run initiatives, universities and schools, local government and arts festivals. Her focus is on increasing public access to and engagement with the arts and the built environment.

Stable Spaces currently works with two research advisors and will continue to grow our expert pool. Dr Molly Mullen is a senior lecturer in applied theatre at the University of Auckland. She is an ethnographic researcher with a particular interest in the diverse economies of applied theatre and community-based arts practice. Writer and filmmaker James Littlewood is currently the director of Going West, a literary organisation in West Auckland. In an earlier iteration of his career he was a design researcher and innovation facilitator, having spent 8 years in market research and banking.

This research has been assessed and approved by the Aotearoa Research Ethics Committee (AREC23_01). If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Manager of AREC, Dr Keely Blanch, on .