Could Oneonta become a thriving creative hub in the mountains? 

Artspace, a nonprofit organization specializing in creating affordable artist work and live spaces, will be visiting Oneonta next week to determine the possibility.

The organization was invited by SUNY Oneonta on behalf of the city to conduct a feasibility study on artist live/work spaces downtown. The study costs about $25,000 and is funded through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a $10 million package awarded to Oneonta by New York state. Oneonta's Common Council approved the study in May with unanimous support. 

According to previous reporting by The Daily Star, the idea to develop Oneonta's arts and culture came from a state official during a visit as part of the DRI process. SUNY Oneonta agreed to take on the project. 

Artspace Senior Vice President of Consulting and Strategic Partnerships Wendy Holmes and Director of Consultant and Strategic Partnerships Anna Growcott will be visiting Oneonta next week to conduct focus groups with artists, arts organizations, financiers, civic and business leaders to begin the feasibility. Growcott and Holmes will also take a tour of potential locations within the DRI boundary. 

Over the course of three days, officials from Artspace will host a number of stakeholder meetings, ending with a showcase of local artists, dancers and musicians. A public hearing that will include a presentation and opportunity for comment will be held at 7 p.m., following the performance Wednesday, Oct. 24. All of the events will be held at the Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center.

“We are excited the consultants will be here to determine the feasibility of affordable artist live/work space for downtown Oneonta,” SUNY Oneonta Chief of Staff Colleen Brannon told The Daily Star on Wednesday.

Brannon is facilitating the study on behalf of the city and SUNY Oneonta.

Artspace, founded in 1979 as an advocate for artists' space needs, has grown to provide property development, asset management and consulting services, helping communities and organizations with advice about developing affordable housing and workspace for artists, performing arts centers, and cultural districts, the nonprofit's website said. 

The organization already has a footprint in New York, working with multiple areas including Buffalo, Albany and Patchogue.

The meeting times are: 

• Wednesday, Oct. 24, 1 p.m. — Artists and Art Focus Group

• Wednesday, Oct. 24, 3 p.m. — Funding and Financing Focus Group

• Wednesday, Oct. 24, 6 p.m. — Artist Performances (First Floor Production Room)

• Wednesday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m. — Public Meeting / Question and Answer Session

• Thursday, Oct. 25, 8:30 a.m. — Civic Leadership Focus Group

• Thursday, Oct. 25, 10:30 a.m. — Business Sector Focus Group

Whitney Bashaw, staff writer, can be reached at 607-441-7218 or wbashaw@thedailystar.com . Follow her on Twitter @DS_WhitneyB .

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