Meta Housing is one of the very first developers in the nation to incorporate the arts into its housing models. Recognizing that engagement and continued learning has a significant impact on the longevity, health, and happiness of residents, they have integrated various arts engagement and life-enhancing programs into their senior communities and affordable family properties.

“Centered on the concept that the arts play a significant role in both mental and physical health, our unique arts colonies deliver a truly integrated experience to residents and neighborhoods, while remaining affordable,” says Kasey Burke, President at Meta Housing.

Beginning in their senior communities, Meta incorporated arts classes and arts engagement such as community art theaters. The success of these arts components was quickly demonstrated, and they began expanding the concept into affordable family properties as well. The project was extremely innovative as it not only had an impact serving as a cultural bridge between residents and the local community, but it also created an opportunity to be a catalyst for revitalization and establishing arts districts within cities.

“Our arts colony concept goes beyond simply offering a few arts and crafts classes,” continues Burke. “From professional art galleries and working art, dance, and digital media studios to a professional open-to-the-public theatre with an in-house resident theatre company, our arts colony communities foster active engagement and support continued learning and artistic discovery for each resident.”

Many of their arts colonies are developed in or near arts districts, providing spaces to attract the public to art shows and performances, and connect residents to the local community. These artist communities are built to improve the living conditions and creative opportunities of low-income working artists and their families, thereby furthering their artistic practices, and supporting the creative economy. For example, Meta Housing worked closely with the City of Glendale on a project to create an affordable arts colony, which would provide affordable options to residents throughout the city, as well as attract artists to the region.

Both Meta and the City of Glendale understood that designating an “arts district” often gentrifies neighborhoods and drives out artists, so the goal of this development – ACE/121, was to ensure that artists could stay in place by:

  • Providing long-term affordable housing with rent restrictions in place for 55 years.
  • Creating a peer-to-peer learning environment among the artists, who are qualified and selected through an inclusive outreach, education and intake process that links artists to affordable housing.
  • Including free spaces for tenants to create, practice, perform, and exhibit.

In 16 months of operation, ACE/121’s Gallery hosted 12 exhibits, plus talks and performances (7 by tenants and 5 by community collectives) and dozens of workshops for outside arts organizations.