As we learned last month, 50-year-old Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco's oldest alternative-arts organization, is in a crisis, and its former executive director says the problem is structural. If the organization fails to raise a half million dollars this year, 2014 could end up being its last.
The Chron's Robert Hurwitt asks how this could have happened to an organization that's been so vital for so long, having served as a stage for the early careers of Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello), Bill Irwin, and poets and writers like Gregory Corso, William S. Burroughs, Gary Snyder, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Former executive director Deborah Cullinan, who recently left after 17 years to take charge of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, said that a growing organization like Intersection, with 8 full-time staff, didn't have the most stable revenue structure, noting that it depended mostly on project-specific grants from foundations, and not enough on attendance and event rental income, which fluctuated a lot. Plus, the organization needs an endowment, it sounds like.
They enter the new fiscal year on July 1 with $167,000 in debt, and in addition to layoffs that took place in May, a transition team began meeting last weekend to discuss options for the future. The organization supports some 125 groups and artists, and they're hoping to live on in some more stripped-down form after this year. Currently, after long-term homes in both North Beach and the Mission, they lives in the same building with the Chronicle at 5th and Mission.
Interim executive director Randy Rollison tells SF Weekly that the current crisis is "not about race, or class, or gentrification... we had ideas about where new income would come from and then it just didn't."
Be on the lookout for fundraisers and fundraising drives. A lot of local artists have stakes in keeping this place alive, so this won't be the last we hear about them this summer.