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SoHo Artists Association records, 1968-1978

SoHo Artists Association records, 1968-1978

SoHo Artists Association

Representative image for SoHo Artists Association records, 1968-1978

This site provides access to the records of the SoHo Artists Association in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2011. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 616 images.

Collection Information

Size: 0.4 linear ft.

Summary: The records of the New York City SoHo Artists Association date from circa 1968 to 1978 and measure 0.4 linear feet. They document the Association's work to lobby for a change in New York City zoning laws that would allow for artists to live and work in SoHo lofts. Found within this small collection are scattered correspondence, reports, founding documents, notes, publicity, printed matter, photographs, and a sound recording of the first official meeting of the Association in 1970.

The records contain documentation of the SoHo Artists Association's relationship with other organizations and city commissions, including Artists Tenants Association, Citizens for Artists Housing, Historic Districts Council, New York City Planning Commission, New York State Commission on Cultural Resources, and Department of Cultural Affairs.

The collection includes a sound recording of the Association's first official meeting held on June 5, 1970 after incorporation. Members discuss the history of negotiations, how to work with commissions and boards, membership growth, the definition of who is an artist, how much minimum space an artist needs, what an artist considers to be adequate living quarters, and how to raise visibility and support. The meeting concluded with a vote, the ballots of which are included in the records.

Publicity records includes festival and tour information, the SoHo Newsletter, clippings, and other materials. Photographs are of the SoHo Artists Association meeting on June 5, 1970.

Biographical/Historical Note

The SoHo Artists Association was an organization formed in 1968 to legalize artists' loft residences. The search for suitable, as well as liveable, office space by artists through the SoHo Artists Association did lead to legislation creating the area known as SoHo where artists can legally live in loft buildings. Involved in the efforts was the Artist-Tenant Association, as well.

Provenance

The records were donated to the Archives of American Art by Gerhardt Liebmann, a member of the SoHo Artists Association, in 1979.

Related Materials

A Finding Aid to the SoHo Artists Association Records,
1968-1978
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.sohoarti
Biographical/Historical note
The SoHo Artists Association was loosely formed in 1968 to centralize lobbying efforts to change New York City zoning laws to allow artists to live and work in SoHo loft spaces zoned for manufacturing. At that time, spaces that were vacated by manufacturers were being converted to studios by artists drawn by cheap rents, expansive spaces, and available natural lighting. Many artists also began to occupy their studio spaces, although zoning laws did not permit residency. The group voted to call itself the SoHo Artists Association at the same time they shortened the area designation on a city planning commission map from "South of Houston." The name for the neighborhood stuck and became a model for other neighborhood acronyms in New York City.
The Association acquired its incorporation certificate on June 2, 1970 and held its first "official" meeting a few days later. In addition to negotiating with the city, the SoHo Artists Association built community support and membership through community events and festivals. They also sought financial and foundation support for artists and extended those funds to purchase buildings for artists' residences as well as exhibition and performance spaces.
During negotiations and public hearings, the City placed a moratorium on evictions to allow more time to resolve the situation in a legal manner. In 1971 the Zoning Resolution was amended to permit Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artists. This law is still in effect and, for the most part, only visual artists and their families are permitted to legally live in converted lofts in SoHo.
Arrangement note
Due to the small size of this collection the records are arranged as one series.
Series 1: SoHo Artists Association Records, 1968-1978 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Provenance
The records were donated to the Archives of American Art by Gerhardt Liebmann, a member of the SoHo Artists Association, in 1979.
Processing Information note
The collection was fully processed and a finding aid prepared by Amanda Louie in 2011. The collection was digitized in 2012 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

A sound recording in this collection was digitized for research access in 2009 and is available at the Archives of American Art offices. Researchers may view the original reels for the archival notations on them, but original reels are not available for playback.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

SoHo Artists Association records, 1968-1978. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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