To the Editor:
This letter is in response to the owner of downtown Potsdam property who is angry about the micro-enterprise art business grantees setting up shop on Clarkson property. I am one of the grant recipients. I have been renting studio space from Clarkson for about 5 years so I was not looking for space. Another grantee has a shop on his property so he wasn’t looking for space either. Three of the other recipients were. We were all encouraged to try and set up downtown, or at least have that as one of our long-term goals.
When it was looked into it became clear no one would be able to afford it. One recipient ended up renting a small space in the Arts Council’s studios, which are in Old Snell. The other is renting from the Nicholville Telephone Company, which happens to be in Lewis House. The third recipient ended up in back of the Tile Co., which is actually downtown. I, and the other artists renting Clarkson owned space, pay somewhere between $75 to $200. So you see, Clarkson is not exactly getting rich off of us. Also, I believe Clarkson pays taxes on both of these properties.
I understand that rent is high downtown because of taxes but would you consider dividing up your space? I am asked at least once a month by other artists if I know where they can find studio space. If you would be willing to divide your space up into sections that would be available for $100 a month I guarantee they would fill up quickly. Artists can do so much for a community but they need help getting started. That is the idea behind this grant. By investing in us now we will help to make Potsdam a better place.
If you would like to be involved in supporting artists please speak up! Go in and introduce yourself to the hard working people who run the St. Lawrence County Arts Council. Become a member, offer to let artists display work in your windows, and ask if you can do anything to help. Then maybe next time when an arts related opportunity arises you can be a part of helping to make it happen instead of complaining that you weren’t included.
Sara Lynch, Potsdam