Meta Housing Corp. is nearly done transforming a five-story building on 17th and Main streets into the Santa Ana Arts Collective, and workshops on how artists can apply to rent units there are taking place this and next month.
“When I come to City Council meetings down here, everyone knows about it, and everyone is excited to see it coming, so I’m certain that we’ll house a good number of artists in the community,” says Michelle Espinoza Coulter, Meta Housing’s director of artist housing.
It’s been an almost decade-long journey for Santa Ana-based artists Victor Payan and Sandra “Pocha” Peña, who have been leading the charge to get more affordable housing for artists to help preserve and grow the city’s arts district.
“Artists’ needs for living are unique and not completely in alignment with traditional housing,” says Peña. “There’s a need to be living near where you work ... there are industrial processes that sometimes need to happen 24/7 … and artists need to have walk-throughs for gallery visits or collectors coming to visit their studio. It’s kind of a special-needs population.”
The Santa Ana Arts Collective will feature 58 units of affordable housing for working artists, a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. There will also be several studios, a performance room, a woodshop, an art garden and spaces for artists to teach classes.
The main floor, a former bank, will house Erica Broussard Gallery, run by Erica Wall of what was formerly called Gallery 6/67 about three miles west. The gallery will promote the work of local artists and emerging artists of color.
Santa Ana Arts Collective is close to the Bowers Museum, Discovery Cube OC, the Wooden Floor dance company and the Orange County School of the Arts.
Applications from interested tenants are due Aug. 10, and there will be three workshops on eligibility, selection criteria and how to apply.
“We’ll be talking about the gathering all of income information and warning that it will feel like intrusive process,” says Coulter. “But the benefits are you [may get] an affordable place to live for the next 55 years.”
Workshops will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Grand Central Art Center,125 N. Broadway, 92702; and at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Aug. 5 at Ross Hall Annex in Santa Ana City Hall (20 Civic Center Plaza, Room 1600, 92701). For more information, visit santaanaartsapts.com.