The artists get there first. They seek out the empty quarters, the vacated spaces, the places in flux and transition. Transience and indeterminacy fires creativity. Disused industrial complexes can be easily remodelled into studio spaces and, sometimes, homes. Housing in less well thought of districts, or areas in decline and decay, is cheaper – affordable for artists who might only have a small income, or a more insecure income, or whose modest income from their creativity must be topped up with other, low-paid, sometimes non-permanent work. But the success of the creative sector can also be its undoing. Money follows creativity, although it is rarely shared out fairly with the artists themselves. Instead, it seeks out and exploits for its own ends the highly marketable quality of ‘cool’ that is inherent in artistic production. The creative quarters of any city so often become places of rampant commerce and capitalism that flushes resident communities out of the area. Behind the newly polished veneer of the creative quarter is the real deal – the rising rents and lowering of living standards that deteriorate as the artists seek to establish themselves. And so, just as the artists are the first to arrive, they are also the first to leave, priced out of a postcode – canaries in the coal mine – signalling the cost of what’s to come.
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