Mar 7, 2024

Preliminary Feasibility Report | Helena, Montana

Helena, Montana

Amelia Lockwood, Artist-in-Residency at the Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts (The Bray)


Over the past two years, Artspace has had a chance to learn about the current opportunities and challenges in Helena through conversations with Montana Business Assistance Connection (MBAC).


Chief among those challenges and related to this feasibility study is a growing population causing an increase in demand for all housing types along with elevated property values for both commercial and residential properties. This recent population growth and affordability challenges has an out-sized impact on the creative sector. The new population that is moving to Helena is also significantly younger than the median age would indicate of this community, bringing in new perspectives from out of state as people seek a more rural idyllic place to live. 


While a hallmark of the community, its historic downtown has become unaffordable for many of the users who made it the “award-winning” district. The historic downtown and the Helena Business Improvement District (HBID) were given the highest tier of recognition by Main Street America in 2022. 


Helena’s arts and culture identity is evident by the number of excellent and world-class organizations, but is of minimal note in its strategic plans. If arts and culture truly want to be at the forefront of Helena’s future, more identification and reference to its impact should be noted. 


This Artspace Preliminary Feasibility Study is well-timed to understand whether the Helena community supports an affordable mixed-use artist live/work housing project and is willing to put the resources behind supporting such a project.