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Home News Another SF Gallery Down

Another SF Gallery Down

Wednesday, 12 March 2014 11:48

SAN FRANCISCO --- We're really NOT trying to be negative here with posting so many stories of the city's art demise/ rapid changes, but man, the bad news keeps coming and coming. This time around another Mission gallery/ not-for-profit takes the hit as their landlord triples the rent... Let's hope they can find another space in the city sometime soon.


Root Division, Community-Based Arts Organization, Impacted by Mission District Rent Increase

Faced with San Francisco’s rapidly changing real estate market, Root Division announces that it will lose its current space in the Mission District and will need to relocate in Summer 2014. 

After residing at 3175 17th Street for more than nine years, Root Division was recently informed that its rental payments would nearly triple. Although disappointed that Root Division must vacate its long-term home, the organization’s Executive Director, Michelle Mansour, maintains a positive stance, viewing this transition as "an opportunity to plan the development of a vital new, sustainable arts facility” with an affordable long-term lease.

Root Division’s team is working with its supporters, partners, and civic leaders to identify a new site, primarily in San Francisco’s Mid-Market area, where several initiatives are underway to support the relocation of arts, education, and family service organizations. Root Division is diligently searching for a publicly accessible multi-use facility (8,000-10,000 square feet) that can host 18-22 artist studios, two large studio classrooms, a 2,000 square foot exhibition space, and a modest amount of office space. During this transition, Root Division is working to identify interim solutions, including a temporary space and/or satellite programs to continue its support of arts education and emerging artists.

During the past nine years at its site in the Mission District, Root Division has provided subsidized studios to over 130 artists; offered over 4,000 hours of free art classes to neighborhood youth by empowering and training 240 artist-teachers; served 1,500 students in onsite adult art classesexhibited over 1,700 artists in its gallery; and welcomed over 32,000 visitors to its space. Meanwhile through events, exhibitions, workshops, and other gatherings, Root Division has developed partnerships with two-dozen schools and community centers and over 150 local businesses.

Deborah Blum is partner in three of the businesses that collaborate with Root Division—the popular Mission District restaurants, Beretta, Starbelly, and Lolinda. Blum sees firsthand how strongly Root Division contributes to the community as she effusively explains that her “restaurants are fortunate to be involved with Root Division. During a time when art education budgets are shrinking in public schools,it's wonderful to see an organization that is really walking the walk; investing time, energy, heart, and effort into teaching art to adults and children alike. Root Division artists have created installations in our restaurants, and we’ve really enjoyed seeing young artists thrive and succeed.”


Joining Blum in singing the praises of Root Division, Saul Anaya, After School Coordinator at nearby Cesar Chavez Elementary School, expresses his wholehearted agreement. As one of Root Division’s school partners, Anaya describes, “having Root Division at our site was the best thing to happen to our program in quite a while - it was a blessing. The various types of arts our children have been able to create have been outstanding."

While Root Division is disheartened to leave the neighborhood it has worked so hard to revitalize, the organization aims to capitalize on the positive momentum generated in the Mission to expand its constituency and to provide the same excellence in arts education to another community in need. Root Division’s innovative model will thrive at a new site where the organization can continue to maintain a fiscally responsible organization and cultivate community partnerships to reach new audiences with high quality exhibitions, studio space for emerging artists, classes for adults, and arts education for youth. As always, Root Division is proud to be an agent of progress and change. The organization’s vision continues to be a model of creative excellence, sustainability, and collaboration as it empowers emerging artists to amplify art’s positive impact on society.

Root Division is fortunate for its strong leadership and financial health, and the organization is currently undertaking a feasibility and planning study prior to launching an anticipated capital campaign. A variety of advisors, constituents, philanthropists, and leaders in the field are assisting the organization with its planning, and Root Division appreciates its supporters’ investment and understanding as it navigates this challenge.

In the meantime, the organization welcomes the community’s input and support during its planning period. Please feel free to contact us at transition@rootdivision.org if you have any questions or want to volunteer, provide beneficial contacts, offer in-kind donations of goods and services, or discuss other ways you can help. Although it is too early to launch a capital campaign, Root Division welcomes financial contributions to help sustain its programs during the interim period.

ABOUT ROOT DIVISION: www.rootdivision.org

Root Division is a San Francisco-based non-profit that improves access to the visual arts through a dynamic ecosystem of arts education, exhibitions, and studios.

Since its founding in 2002 by three MFA graduates of the San Francisco Art Institute, Root Division has brought together artists, teachers, curators, local schools, audiences, individuals, and foundations, to achieve its mission to improve appreciation and access to the visual arts by connecting personal inspiration and community participation.

Root Division provides subsidized studio space to working artists in exchange for their service in creating shared learning opportunities for the community. Artists develop creatively and professionally by teaching art to underserved youth, leading adult education classes, and producing exhibitions that showcase local emerging artwork.  By combining multiple opportunities for creative exchange, Root Division cultivates an artistic ecosystem that enriches life throughout the Bay Area.

The organization runs four interconnected programs – Studios, Youth Education, Adult Education, and Exhibitions & Events – which link diverse audiences and interests in mutually beneficial relationships. The programs not only nurture creativity, but also foster volunteerism and community engagement that is vital to the social, economic, and cultural health of the Bay Area.

Root Division’s Studios Program acts as a hub for interaction and development for promising emerging artists, while empowering them to give back to the community. Currently the organization hosts 18 artists in 16 studios at belowmarket rates in exchange for their volunteer hours towards the organization.

In the Youth Education Program, Root Division recruits, trains, and places volunteer artists to teach free art classes in one of its five after-school partner programs, creating a link between practicing artists and the schools community.Root Division provides free art classes to over 500 underserved students in grades K-12 each year.

The Adult Education Program offers dozens of inspiring and affordable courses, such as Drawing, Screen Printing, and Sewing, for adults interested in expanding their artistic skill-set. Root Division also offers Professional Development

Workshops that provide artists support and direction in composing portfolios, building websites, and developing practicalbusiness skills.

The Exhibitions & Events Program provides a platform for innovative artwork in an engaging environment. The Second Saturday Exhibition Series presents a fresh show each month featuring an innovative collection of painting, photography, sculpture, installation, video, and performance. In the past year Root Division showcased the work of over 400 artists, fostered 8 curatorial visions, and welcomed over 4,500 visitors to its gallery.

Root Division is supported in part by grants from Grants for the Arts: San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, San Francisco Arts Commission / Cultural Equity Grants, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, Drusie Davis Family Fund, Zellerbach Family Foundation, W A Gerbode Foundation, Fleishhacker Foundation, Morse Foundation, A Better Place Foundation, and Art4Moore


Amy Cancelmo
Exhibitions & Events Coordinator
Root Division

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