4 Things You Should Know About A.I.R. Rules

The word AIR has a totally different meaning here in SoHo.  (1) AIR stands for Artist In Residence.  SoHo originally was a throughway to connect Brooklyn with New Jersey via Broome Street, and there were lots of vacant buildings originally used for manufacturing garments.

In the 1970s, artists saw the vacant buildings potential:  high ceilings, natural light, and affordability.  At that time, the types of people passing through included low-wage truckers and the homeless.

(2) In 1971, the artist-in-residence zoning law took place, converting 200 commercial lofts to residential use.  In order to qualify to live in these lofts, you had to be certified as an artist.

(3) The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs is the governmental agency overseeing applicants (3).  

Under applicable state legislation and the City’s Zoning Resolution, certification as a working artist is necessary in order for an individual to qualify for joint living-working space in the M1-MA and M1-MB zoning districts (SoHo NoHo). Under Sections 275-6 of Article 7-B of the Multiple Dwelling Law, an “artist” is defined–for the purpose of qualifying for joint living-working quarters in cities with populations of over one million–as “a person who is regularly engaged in the fine arts, such as painting and sculpture, or in the performing or creative arts, including choreography and filmmaking, or in the composition of music, on a professional basis and is so certified by the city department of cultural affairs and/or state council on the arts.”

(4) Based on Section 27.03 of the Art and Cultural Affairs Law, the criteria used by the Department in considering the applicant’s eligibility for certification are:

  1. The individual is engaged in the fine arts, not the commercial arts, including but not limited to painting, sculpture, choreography, filmmaking, and the composition of music, regularly and on an ongoing basis;
  2. The individual demonstrates a serious, consistent commitment to his or her art form;
  3. The individual is currently engaged in his or her art form;
  4. The individual demonstrates a need for a large loft space in which to create his or her art.

It should be noted that the word “professional” refers to the nature of the commitment of the artist to his or her art form as his or her primary vocation rather than the amount of financial remuneration earned from his or her creative endeavor.