Project hopes to help artists stay in San Francisco


The Luggage Store is an arts organization and gallery located in the rapidly evolving mid-Market neighborhood, home to Twitter and other high tech companies where rents are now skyrocketing.

"It's a challenge with revitalization; we are growing jobs here, we are decreasing vacancies, which was our initial initiative," San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim said. "Now we are finding that we're overly successful so now it's our job to ensure the folks who have always been here can continue to stay here."

Wednesday, Kim, who represents the district, along with the mayor and others announced a city partnership in a new venture called the Community Arts Stabilization Trust. CAST will buy buildings for artists to rent, and eventually own.

The Kenneth Rainan Foundation is committing $5 million over five years to get things started.

"We saw that artists were getting pushed out again, the same way they were during the last dot com boom, so we decided to step in and make a difference," Kenneth Rainan Foundation Director Eric Rodenbeck said.

What it means for the Luggage Store and it's tenant, the Hospitality House Community Art Program, is stability.

"If we should, in 10-20 years, decide we're through and sell it out, we sell it to another non-profit arts group at a non-speculative rate," Darryl Smith said.

The other building purchased so far is a former adult theater on Turk Street in the Tenderloin that will now be home for Counterpulse, a performing arts group.

Artists and the funders hope with the real estate program an art district will flourish in the city.

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