The Bay Area Mourns the Loss of Intersection for the Arts


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I’ll try.

But I don’t think I’ll do the organization justice.

One of the first times I went to see a Campo Santo play at Intersection for the Arts (for the uninitiated, Campo Santo is–now was–the resident theatre company at Intersection) it was in their old home over on 16th and Valencia in San Francisco’s Mission District. The theatre was overflowing with people. Young, old, from all classes, from diverse backgrounds and cultures. There were so many people there that some of them even sat on the stairs.

Intersection was…is…was a beating artistic heart. A home to artists of all stripes–musicians, writers, visual artists and theatremakers–to its community and to the community’s youth. In the organization’s own words, it is a “community development organization that connects people and communities across physical, social, cultural, and economic boundaries to instigate change.”

Intersection lived up to its name.

For 49 years it has been a crossroads of artistic exploration, cultivation and collaboration. As I look at my Facebook feed I see so many artistic peers lamenting the announcement we received via email this afternoon. The announcement that Intersection for the Arts is in fact suspending its programs and laying off Visual Arts Program Director Kevin B. Chen, Outreach and Community Engagement Program Director Rebeka Rodriguez, and Theatre Program Director Sean San José, as well as all communications staff.

It is no exaggeration, the Bay Area arts community is reeling. What is Intersection without “for the Arts”? And for that matter, what is San Francisco and the Bay Area without the arts?

Because this announcement is part of a larger trend. As Bay Area rents triple and nonprofits (including artistic organizations) are pushed out of their spaces–along with the working class and artists–this city’s thriving cultural scene is no longer thriving, rather it feels more like it’s struggling to survive. Struggling, even though there is plenty of money flowing in this city.

And Intersection’s announcement feels like one more nail in the coffin.

I’ve failed.

I haven’t really conveyed to you all what this organization means to us out here. The indelible impact Intersection for the Arts has made in the lives of artists, in the lives of its community members.

If you could see the heartbreak I’m reading tonight. The heavy hearts.

We are devastated.

  • May 23, 2014
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