Pop-up art galleries

Some owners of empty buildings with big shop windows are allowing them to be used as temporary art-gallery space. The alternatives seem to be leaving them vacant and renting them out essentially as billboards.

Whether or not the gallery-space option is preferable for the owner of the building, it’s clearly better for the owners of neighboring buildings, and for the entire commercial district of which the building forms a part. This is a classic “external-benefit” problem: easy enough to resolve when there’s a single beneficiary – orchard owners are happy to pay beekeepers – but hard when there are multiple beneficiaries because of the “free-rider” problem.

Encouraging this sort of activity is a natural role for Business Improvement Districts (associations of building owners given taxing power to promote local amenities) and for city art departments or arts councils. Somehow I doubt that the National Endowment for the Arts will show much interest, but it should.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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