Three ways to help local arts communities
It now looks all but certain that Cambridge (and the Central Square Cultural District especially) has lost the community of musicians, artists and creative businesses at the EMF Building on Brookline Street – there is literally no reason to think otherwise, though the building also isn’t being shut down until the end of May – but not everyone thinks it’s time to give up on EMF or local arts in general.
Here are three arts communities that could use attention and assistance after being forced out of their homes and hometowns by an overheated real estate market and a few people who have been happy to catch the fever.
EMF. After a dozen years hosting band rehearsal spaces, artist studios and small, arts-related businesses, the 120 Brookline St. building is being shut down by John DiGiovanni, president of the company Trinity Property Management and Harvard Square Business Association. He has not revealed his plans for the building.
Since tenants can stay until the end of the month, “we intend to use this borrowed time to explore all options and fight to keep our community alive,” community leaders said in a GoFundMe crowdfunding letter.
Contributions to the potentially $5,000 fund will be used for community outreach, to stage events to raise the profile of artists’ cause and for legal consultations, if necessary, they said.
“It’s the last building of its kind in Cambridge and it plays a vital role at heart of the Cambridge cultural district. If we lose this building, we lose so much more than just bricks and walls – we lose our culture, our livelihoods our home away from home,” they said.
The fundraising page is at gofundme.com/saveemf.
The Comedy Studio. This comedy club operated for more then 20 years out a third-floor bar in Harvard Square’s Hong Kong Restaurant – helping launch the careers of comics such as Gary Gulman, Eugene Mirman, Sam Jay, Emma Willmann and Jen Kirkman and hosting Ali Wong, Mike Birbiglia, Anthony Jeselnik, Colin Jost, Sarah Silverman and many more – before being forced out by increasing rents late last year and announcing a move to the new Bow Market in Union Square, a former storage space being turned into a complex of more than 30 small storefronts for food, retail and the arts.
Owner Rick Jenkins is hoping to raise $50,000 for everything from fireproof curtains to glassware – for the Studio’s own bar, called Variety – and a high-tech sound system. The Indiegogo campaign comes with rewards, from a Comedy Studio button for a contribution of $5 to a private party in return for $10,000.
The fundraising page is here.
Out of the Blue Too art gallery. The nonprofit Out of the Blue art galley and performance venue closed Dec. 1 after 21 years near and then in Central Square. At first, gallery founder Tom Tipton said Out of the Blue was exploring finding a new location in Cambridge or Somerville, but after the closing the search turned by necessity toward looking as far away as Malden. And even there it wasn’t clear that a venue that believed in giving anyone a chance at creating, selling and performing could make a go of it.
In the meantime, Tipton and business manager Parama Chattopadhyay have been hosting kid-friendly fundraising salons – “bimonthly arty parties” – on Saturdays in Medford. Up to 60 attendees enjoy the visual works of a dozen or so artists, listen to acoustic music and are fed for $12 donations. The next event is May 19. For information, send email to [email protected] or [email protected].