Ivana Medukic is a sculptor who lived in Brooklyn for three years.
She grew up in Greater Cleveland. She and her chef- husband have decided to come back and live in Cleveland's Waterloo Arts District in Collinwood. A big reason, it's affordable to live here.
They are deciding which house they want to buy.
"Artists are getting priced out and dispersed through (New York City's) neighborhoods. You're losing the sense of community and working together...Cleveland is a great place for art. There's a lot of culutre and diversity here. You still get the big city feel, " she said.
For Ivana and others, it's largely about the bottom line. The cost of living and renting in New York City is escalating. And struggling artists are being challenged to both create and hold down other jobs that pay th bills.
A new survey of 1,000 New York City artists by the New York Foundation for the Arts found more than 43 percent of artists there expected their annual income to drop between 26 percent and 50 percent within six months.
So-called second tier cities like Cleveland are actively courting artists with incentive programs and low-cost housing deals.
In Collinwood, the Northeast Shores Development Corporation has bought 16 vacant homes and is using stimulus dollars to renovate them. It sells them for 60 percent of the fix-up costs.
The larger homes are ideal for artists' living space and studios.
Executive Director Brian Friedman said, " There is no way we expected this amount of interest from out-of-state artists....We've received calls from Boston. We've received calls from New York. We've received calls from Baltimore."
The group operates a second plan that helps artists or other renters acquire homes that they will do their own fix-up work on.
Painter and musician Monica Doyle bought and is renovating a duplex.
She also lived in Greater Cleveland when she was young. She has lived in multiple locations. She moved back to the Waterloo District from Australia.
"I wasn't thinking about buying a house. This was ridiculously affordable," she said.
She likes the community feeling. The Waterloo Arts push began with music and the Beachland Ballroom.
"It's just a gathering of energy. Both the old guard and the new guard together- that's what the buzz is about," she explained.
Some hope this advantage can be used in the battle to keep American Greetings in Brooklyn or elsewhere in Northeast Ohio.
The company is concerned about its ability to recruit creative staffers as it debates whether to stay in Northeast Ohio or move to Chicago.
There are at least 60 artists, a combination of long-time residents and new transplants, living in the Waterloo Arts District.
This weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, artists will showcase their work for holiday sale. Permanent and temporary galleries will be open.
And visitors are invited to take a Waterloo walk to familiarize themselves with this growing arts district.
Ivana Medukic will open her "pop-up" gallery called "Transition" at 428 East 157th Street Friday from 6 to 10 p.m.
"Transition" will be on view from December 3rd to December 17th. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m .to 4 p.m.
The exhbit is meant to reflect the changes in Collinwood and to capture the passage of autumn becoming winter.