Written By Michelle F. Solomon
June 27, 2023 at 1:00 PM

Former Oolite Arts Resident Roscoe B Thicke in his studio. Oolite announced it will now award a housing stipend to incoming residents who qualify. (Photo courtesy of Pedro Wazzan)

“Sometimes you can’t produce your work because you need to pay your rent. So, things take longer to produce and sometimes things don’t get done because sometimes you don’t have the money to execute it.” This is what Oolite Arts Resident Artist Ema Ri says is a major hurdle that so many Miami artists face.

In ranking after ranking, Miami has been in the undesirable No. 1 spot as the least affordable housing market in the nation. In a report just released in June by the RealtyHop real estate website, Miami’s housing is more expensive than Los Angeles and New York City. The adage of a struggling artist has taken on an even deeper meaning for visual artists trying to make a go of it in the Magic City.

Diana Eusebio, a resident artist at Oolite Arts, believes that Miami and its surroundings offer a number of opportunities for artists, however, she agrees that the difficulty for anyone trying to work full-time as an artist is how to stay sustainable in South Florida.

“There’s a passionate pool of people that are born and raised here that are choosing Miami, but they can’t afford to live here,” says Eusebio.

Current Oolite Arts Resident Diana Eusebio with her artwork in the Oolite Arts exhibition “Landscape of Realities.” (Photo courtesy of World Red Eye)

Oolite Arts’ Studio Arts Residency Program offers space at its Lincoln Road location on Miami Beach to allow for a place to work without having to pay for a studio, another financial hit for artists.

Oolite Arts will now provide an additional $12,000 a year to help contribute to artists’ housing. Its 2024 and future resident artists will receive the Knight Artist Housing Stipend as a way to assist with the rising housing costs in the region.

“Our artists are one of Miami’s greatest assets. But our city will only continue to be a viable home for them if we find solutions to our affordable housing crisis,” says Dennis Scholl, president and CEO of Oolite Arts, who is stepping down to concentrate on pursuing his own artistic practice later this year.

While it is not uncommon for artist residencies to include housing or stipends, the programs are mostly for artists visiting from other places, according to Scholl. The Knight Artist Housing Stipend is unique in its design to support artists by allowing them to remain in their home community, he said.

The stipend is supported by funding from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, part of a $1.25 million grant from Knight, which includes both the Knight Artist Housing Stipend and support to enhance the use of technology by artists and throughout Oolite Arts’ new campus being built in Miami’s Little River neighborhood.

Oolite Arts Resident Artist Ema Ri with his piece in the Oolite exhibition “Lean-To.” (Photo courtesy of World Red Eye)

Applications for Oolite Arts’ Studio Arts Residency, including the Knight Artist Housing Stipend, open July 12, 2023. The residency period for new applicants starts Jan. 8, 2024. All residencies are extended into a second full-year term. Oolite will be accepting six new residents for 2024.

To qualify for the Knight Artist Housing Stipend as part of the Studio Residency, artists must show proof that they have lived in Miami-Dade for two years at the start of the residency in January of 2024.

In total, Oolite Arts will have 13 resident artists — seven of whom are entering their second year. All of the second-year artists qualify for the stipend.

For more information about the residency, click here.

VIDEO: Watch: Knight Artist Housing Stipend and Oolite Artist Studio Residency


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