Galería De La Raza, regarded by many as the foremost pillar of the Latino art scene in San Francisco, is being forced out of its location of 46 years after receiving a major rent hike.
“Unfortunately, in June 2018, we received notice of a 100% rent increase, effective August 2018 for the space we are currently occupying,” reads a statement sent out by the gallery on Friday. “Through the summer we were able to negotiate with the property manager to maintain our tenancy at our current rental rates but moving forward have to forgo” the main gallery space at 2857 24th Street.
For now, it will primarily operate out of its Studio 24 space, next door at 2851 24th Street, a significantly smaller venue.
It’s unclear how much the landlord, listed in public records as Lily Ng, is asking for, and how much the gallery was paying before the hike. Ani Rivera, the gallery’s director, declined to comment on the specifics on their rental agreement.
“At the moment, we don’t want to share specific amounts as we are still negotiating the new rent scenario with the property manager,” she wrote in an email. “I can confidently say that the proposed increase essentially doubled our rent.”
The gallery had been paying its rent month-to-month since the time it moved into the space at 24th and Bryant, two years after being founded in 1970 at 14th and Valencia streets. Over that period of time, representatives from the gallery said, the gallery attempted to “change the arrangement with the landlord to a more stable agreement for Galería and the community.”
But the economic circumstances of the city’s rental market would not allow it, they said.
Instead, the gallery is working to raise money and forge a deal with the Mission Economic Development Agency and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation to rent, and potentially eventually purchase, ground-floor space at the nonprofit developers’ forthcoming 1990 Folsom project — a fully affordable 143-unit building slated to break ground in February 2019.
Already the gallery has hosted outdoor events at 1990 Folsom, which right now is an empty lot.
In the 1970s, Galería De La Raza served as a unifying force for the Chicano civil rights movement, and a backbone of the Latino arts explosion of that era. It has since turned into a hub for community and youth programming. Whether this will continue in the much-smaller adjunct space remains to be seen.
“For the Board and Staff, coming to this decision was not easy,” a statement reads. “Our priority has been to be responsive to our communities’ needs and desires, which include that long-standing cultural institutions, such as Galería, remain in the Mission District and continue to offer and expand its local and world-renowned community-based programming.”