GHOST SHIP: IN MEMORIAM
On December 2, 2016, 36 people lost their lives in the Oakland Ghost Ship fire. It took such a senseless tragedy to bring attention to conditions under which so many of our emerging artists live in the Bay Area. Surely we can do better, for these people who give us things we love and enjoy, and make sure it never happens again. We mourn the lives lost to teach us this lesson, and dedicate our work to their memory.
As many of you already know, I have spent the last few years moving towards the establishment of artists’ live/work spaces and venues in San Francisco, a project called Bohemia Redux. It has been slow going, as I am struggling to survive here as well. But slowly, one piece after another has fallen into place, bringing the project closer to a launch. After the nightmare of the Oakland warehouse fire, however, it’s not possible to move ahead slowly any longer.
A couple of years ago, I came up with a win-win solution. It capitalizes on the fact that people buy buildings and leave them empty to show tax losses. But people can show the same loss by buying buildings and leasing them to the nonprofit for a nominal fee—with an agreement that, in 10 years, when the buildings no longer qualify as losses, the nonprofit buys them. We can use the tax code to create a high social impact, public benefit project—the stuff of legacy.
The Bohemia Redux blog looks at the question of why we need artists in our cities. Everyone generally accepts that the arts are beneficial to humanity. No one talks about why artists themselves are valuable to the social fabric, even though they clearly give us things we love and rely on to soothe our distress: music, books, poetry, film, performance, and visual arts. Their neighborhoods are always vibrant—because they’re there.
This project offers a way to create spaces for artists and give them venues to market their work—not relying on government, but making it happen by citizens’ initiative. You can read about the basic plan at www.bohemiaredux.org. To read about it further, you can request a business plan.
Starting a nonprofit is hard when progress is incremental by necessity. The urgency of the situation demands that I find collaborators and work-arounds to get things in motion quickly. We could use many different kinds of help to move things forward.
Here are some of the things we need:
Ø People to join the board and actively engage in meeting objectives
Ø A nonprofit accountant willing to join the board or offer initial assistance pro bono
Ø Fiscal sponsorship, to enable us to pursue agreements and accept donations, until our own 501(c)3 status is in place
Ø Alternately, we could take over an existing 501(c)3 that is not being used any longer, as long as it’s unencumbered by debt or legal issues
Ø Introductions to people who would value tax losses and would partner with us to acquire buildings
Ø Writers, bloggers, social media personalities, reporters, and others who would like to help get the word out
Ø Professionals or organizations willing to help us navigate contracts, agreements, real estate options, bureaucracy, construction, and other thorny aspects of the project
Ø Buildings currently not in use that could be donated to the project. It would be ideal to have mixed use buildings, but it would be fine to have separate residential and commercial spaces, We can use almost any kind of space.
Ø Empty storefronts donated for pop-up fundraising sites
Ø Companies interested in partnering with us to assist in a various ways
Ø Arts organizations interested in collaborative efforts
Ø Fundraisers, PR, media, and IT people who can offer some vital help (for example, we still don’t have an email address)
Ø People to spread the word socially
Ø Computer gear not on the verge of planned obsolescence
Ø An intern to help keep things together, perhaps for college credit
And of course…
Here’s the deal about donations. Donations to a pending nonprofit are only tax deductible for a certain amount of time. Donations made to the project now are not tax deductible, until we have fiscal sponsorship in place, get our designation, or take over another exiting 501(c)3. However, they couldn’t be more needed and appreciated. If you would like to contribute something to the effort now, please scroll to the bottom of this page:
Thank you for reading through this far! I hope there’s something on our list that you would like to do with us to solve this one very fixable problem. I fully believe that restoring the city’s creative community will go far towards building an intangibly happier new year for everyone. There’s real magic in bringing together a group of people to make something happen. I hope to do it with you, and make this particular—and long overdue—bit of magic happen in 2017.
To a happier new year!