The Northampton Community Arts Trust’s mission is to protect and ensure the long-term vitality of the Northampton community through the acquisition and preservation of affordable and accessible space for creative work.
Our assumption is that imagination is essential to the creation of a future we will want to inhabit and that a thriving arts community inspires and nourishes such community imagination. It is therefore incumbent on a responsible citizenry to take steps to secure permanently affordable spaces for creative work within a community. Such spaces, as an extension of the public commons, must be fairly managed and their use allocated in such a way as to preserve the space for future generations while ensuring vibrant present use.
Our method is adapted from the conservation land trust movement in which concerned citizens associate voluntarily in nonprofit corporations to acquire environmentally sensitive sites and preserve their ecological integrity for the future health of the region. The community land trust movement extends this concept of the commons to include working farmland, sites for workforce housing, and sites for new manufacturing critical to the region’s economic and social integrity. The community land trust develops a land use plan for each site determined by its natural characteristics and the priorities of the regional community, and then leases the site on a long-term basis.
Our goal is to acquire buildings in Northampton that are well suited for creative work of various kinds, establish the structural soundness and operational efficiency of the buildings, and then lease the spaces to one or more artists or art organizations on affordable terms. Options are provided for the lessees to further customize the spaces for their particular purposes. In this way both the sites and the buildings themselves are made part of a commons, stewarded and managed on behalf of present and future generations by an association of concerned citizens wishing to welcome the creative arts and all they inspire into the Northampton community.