NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Creative types often pursue their passion for love, not profit.

But one artist is really going to score in a suburb that’s putting out the welcome mat.

How does a studio apartment in a luxury building, rent-free for a year sound?

New Rochelle has long encouraged artwork to add life to its public spaces. Now, at the site of a former Loews movie palace, the city is reaching new heights in nurturing creativity.

(Photo: City of New Rochelle)

“We don’t want a downtown that’s only economically successful. We want a downtown that’s culturally vibrant. And so, we’re really rolling out the welcome mat for artists in a variety of ways,” New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson told CBS2’s Tony Aiello on Monday.

The mayor said that’s why the city and developer, RXR, are sponsoring a contest. An artist will win 12 months free rent in a studio apartment at 360 Huguenot. It’s a prize worth more than $20,000.

Just submit a short video explaining why New Rochelle is “Ideally Yours,” the city’s new marketing slogan.

When asked if a free apartment could turn her into an artist, teacher Tabitha Harrell saidm, “I could become an artist! I teach, so I’m sort of an artist.”

It can be difficult to define — what is art? For the purposes of this contest, the city of New Rochelle is defining the term “artist” pretty loosely. It is listing computer arts, culinary arts and “other” as options, and opening the contest to current and aspiring artists.

“I think culture ought to be broadly defined. It’s really about creative expression through whatever means and medium one chooses,” Mayor Bramson said.

If you don’t win a free apartment here, perhaps a reduced-rate unit a few blocks away. One building will offer 11 artists discounted rent and space to work and perform.

“We want to infuse art into our little mini-neighborhoods,” developer Anthony Hammel said.

Adding color and character to the suburban streets.

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Entries are due by mid-May and the winner will be named in July. To enter the contest, please click here.

In case you are wondering, the value of the year’s free rent will be reported to the IRS and the winner will have to pay taxes on it.


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