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Why Art Incubators, Not Tech Incubators, Might be Just the Thing San Francisco Needs

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The bay area has managed to invest zillions in tech incubators and engineering talent, but what about investing in the artistic talent that makes our city unique, creative, and interesting?  Once upon a time this city nourished the likes of Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Jack London & the Dead Kennedys.  But now the city’s price tag is having the opposite effect, it’s forcing artists and creative types to move away, creating a glaring deficit in writers, painters, poets, musicians, sculptors and craftsman.  If we let this trend continue, we are going to start loosing the very fabric that made our city special in the first place.  You think a young Kerouac could have afforded a flat in North Beach in today’s housing crunch?

A possible solution you ask? The Art House Project we say.  San Francisco native, writer, and life coach P Segal has launched a program to return creative culture to the city.  The essential concept is this: rather than donating money to nonprofits that solve global problems, or investing in another mobile dating app, philanthropists and tycoons are encouraged to buy city properties and lease them to the Art House project, with very nominal rents and very long leases.

Art Houses would collect reasonable rents from tenants and use them to open businesses. A Writers’ House would have a café and bookstore, magazine, and an independent publishing house. A musicians’ building would have a recording studio, available to non-residents, a booking agency for musicians, and a concert venue. A painter’s building, have a gallery, classes, and art rental agency.  While building owners may not benefit financially from rental income, there are many other ways in which they can benefit; not the least of these is social capital. And buildings in San Francisco appreciate in value over time, like blue chip stocks.

Residents would be selected through a process of peer review, and a formal application process. Spaces would be given to those who demonstrate consistent production of professional quality work and interest in community building. Those driven out in evictions of long-term, below market, tenants would have priority.

Segal notes that artists are totally undervalued in our culture. “We’re the only first world country,” she says, “That doesn’t have an arts secretary on the Cabinet.” Art events and arts organizations get support from the city, but not the artists themselves. She quotes Burning Man Director Larry Harvey, who said, “Something like the creation of Burning Man could never happen here now.”

For more information, please contact P at


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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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