File Photo; Meditators in the window of the ATA in the early morning sunshine.

ATA, or Artists’ Television Access, signed a renewed lease on November 13, securing its space at 992 Valencia Street for another five years. The announcement comes after a tense few weeks, during which ATA’s all-volunteer staff weighed a substantial rent increase against the ability to stay in place on on a rapidly changing commercial corridor where prices have exploded.

Ultimately, the film space was able to make it work with some funding from the Northern California Community Loan Fund, which they found via the city’s new Nonprofit Displacement Mitigation Program. Though the new rent is “a stretch,” it’s still below market-rate, thanks to what ATA called “the landlord’s willingness to cut a small break to a group that has brought film and art to the neighborhood for almost thirty years.”

Since 1984, ATA has been giving underground and alternative filmmakers access to the tools they need to do their work. In the days before the requisite equipment was easily available, “access” referred to gear and editing technology. Now, it usually means giving artists who do bizarre, provocative or new work a chance to show what they’ve created.

ATA is a fixture of the underground film and art scene in San Francisco, as well as being a long-time haven for artists, weirdos, and film lovers,” ATA’s board president Kelly Pendergrast wrote in a statement, “but with zero commercial rent control and a totally insane market, cultural value can’t trump capitalism.”

Beyond film, ATA plays host to a wide array of artistic expression in its street-facing windows, one of which is permanently occupied by the arts collective Right Window. For its own part, ATA has displayed performance artists like these women covered in syrup and Elliot C. Nathan’s “surreal potatoism,” among myriad others.

The next five years will come with more fundraisers and appeals for member support in order to make the increased rent. But for now, they’re celebrating.

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