Selection process may be tough for Nashville’s artist lofts

Selection process may be tough for Nashville's artist lofts (Image 1)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashville Mayor Karl Dean joined officials with the Metro Development and Housing Agency to break ground on the Ryman Lofts Wednesday morning.

Located in Rolling Mill Hill area of downtown, bordered by Hermitage Avenue and the Cumberland River, the 60-unit complex is the city's first affordable community designed specifically for artists.

Hairstylist and owner of Parlour & Juke salon, Cali DeVaney, told Nashville's News 2 she is interested in moving into the Ryman Lofts but wonders if she would qualify since she's not a “traditional artist.”

“You're mixing up colors and you're placing colors and your cutting hair and it's all visual,” DeVaney said of her profession, “you're using your vision of what you think is going to look good on someone.”

The Metropolitan Development and Housing Authority recognizes that determining what constitutes an artist may be difficult and said something they are already trying to determine is a fair selection process.

“The first and most important part they have to qualify financially to live in someplace like Ryman Lofts it is an affordable housing community, which means you make about 60% of the average median income maximum,” agency spokeswoman Julie Oaks explained.

She said for a single person to financially qualify, their income would have to be around $27,000.

Once the tenant qualifies financially, the artist would go before a committee that will decide if they qualify artistically.

“That committee will be composed of people that represent the arts community and legal professions to make sure that fair housing practices are followed,” Oaks continued.  “The artists committee will really be looking not to pick one artist over another but to actually confirm, ‘Yes, this person is seriously pursuing a career in the arts.'”

MDHA said they will likely look at the broad criteria of performance artists who might be required to submit a portfolio of their work, an artist's statement and letters of recommendation.

While DeVaney says she has all of those necessary documents, she may not meet the financial or even the artistic guidelines.

“I don't have any other creative outlets, this is it, this is my art,” she said, adding, “this city is full of a lot of different art forms.”

The building is scheduled to open in 2012.

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