Why NYC is so unaffordable for artists?—and what can be done about it

“When people think of New York,” says Amanda Thickpenny, an actor who has performed with the Pearl Theatre Company, “they think of the arts—Broadway, Lincoln Center, the Met, MoMA.” But the people who create that art increasingly cannot afford to live here, given the exorbitant housing and living costs.

Even the most famous and successful of artists seem to agree. In an editorial for The Guardian, David Byrne recalled the NYC of the 70s as “a center of cultural ferment”; today, he wrote, “most of Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn are virtual walled communities, pleasure domes for the rich… there is no room for fresh creative types.” (The piece is straightforwardly titled “If the 1% stifles New York’s creative talent, I’m out of here.”)

And in a recent sit-down with Elle magazine, Patti Smith pointed out that in the same era, housing was much more easily had by aspiring creatives: “You can have a bookstore job and a little apartment in the East Village. There were so many of us, so many like minds. You can’t do that now.”

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