“The majority of artists not only require subsidy at the beginning, but need it to be sustained,” he says. “Artists either don’t hatch very quickly or perhaps never do but still their practice may be valuable, because they convey the value of their research through their teaching, curating, or through writing. It’s why they need very affordable space.” He also warns that unless something is done, London’s status as a global artistic hub might be undermined. “Once upon a time, Paris was an important visual arts center,” he adds. “Look what happened to that.”
Anna Harding, chief executive of SPACE studios, the oldest operating artist studio provider in the city, says she is “impressed” by Khan’s manifesto. As well as supporting over 700 artists across 18 buildings in London, SPACE also organizes residencies and exhibitions. Harding says the key to supporting artists in London is the backing of “sustainable” projects, investment in new buildings, and recognition that artists contribute to the wider economy.
“The key is working with experienced partners, like SPACE, who know what the issues are, where you don’t end up with something that’s too expensive to run, or where people don’t want to rent because it’s not affordable,” she says. “There’s a risk of projects being developed by local authorities without the expertise of experienced partners.” She sees rising property prices in London as market failure. “We’ve done a lot of work supporting small creative business over the last three years,” she adds. “They are self-employed sole traders with flexible portfolios. It’s the future of employment.”