How Cities Are Trying to Save Their Art Scenes from Rising Rents

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There’s a stock image of the urban cultural ideal: bustling streets filled with colorfully painted walls, galleries with their doors wide open, live music bubbling out from local venues. This is the kind of environment, with economic as well as artistic benefits, that city governments around the world are looking to foster. But such vibrant cultural communities of artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creatives can attract well-off newcomers, who in turn drive rising rents and the cost of living. This cycle can displace the very local artists who created the scene to begin with and push out longtime residents.

To combat this pattern, dubbed by researchers as the “The SoHo Effect,” the World Cities Culture Forum commissioned a report examining the challenges faced by 12 cities, from San Francisco to Shenzhen to Sydney, and how they are working to preserve or expand their arts and cultural scenes. The report created a toolkit that emphasizes collaboration between city authorities, the private sector, and artists in ways that allow cities to maintain and grow their culture sectors.

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