How Can Cities Like Denver Balance Creative Freedom, Affordability And Safety?

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DIY Panel collage, Michael Seman, Jill Jennings Golich, Stephan Herrera
Left to right: University of Colorado Denver director of creative industries research and policy Michael Seman; City of Denver's Community Planning and Development deputy director Jill Jennings Golich; visual artist and experimental musician Stephan Herrera.

When a deadly fire recently tore through a converted warehouse in Oakland, California, the relatively unknown world of "Do It Yourself" -- or DIY -- art spaces was thrust into the national spotlight. Here in Denver, two underground venues where artists lived and worked were shut down by safety inspectors.

Some artists say they were targeted. City officials say they're trying to keep residents safe. Last week both sides came together in a public forum to discuss concerns like safety and funding. Some big questions remain, like how Denver and its residents can come together to find solutions for affordable and safe housing. And what role should a city play to support underground art spaces?

Colorado Matters invited three people close to the issue to discuss the future of DIY spaces and affordable housing for artists.

  • Jill Jennings Golich is deputy director of Denver's Community Planning & Development Office
  • Michael Seman directs creative industries research and policy at the University of Colorado Denver
  • Stephan Herrera is a visual artist and experimental musician who lived at two Denver DIY spaces called Rhinoceropolis and Glob