Is Works Closing??

Some answers to questions about Works:

Is Works closing? Why is Works dark?!

With no exhibition up and no events on the calendar, these are the questions we have heard most. Warned of our financial uncertainty and the threat of an impending move, guest curators and artists were delayed and then could not install in time when given the green light. The building contains all of Works’ property but no exhibition is up or scheduled.

Why did Works move there?

After the new owners of 30 North 3rd did not wish to negotiate a new lease with Works, we moved to 451 South 1st in an arrangement negotiated with the City of San José. The city wanted Works to move to the SoFA arts district and this location offered the lowest preparation costs of any of the area spaces at this size. Still, the move, temporary office space, storage, new lighting, construction, and cleanup cost Works about $30,000.

Isn’t the City of San José paying for the space?

The city approved a 3-year subsidy that would keep the remaining rent near the amount Works paid at the previous location. However, this did not include the substantial income Works received from studio rentals at 30 North 3rd. Works had to somehow make up this lost income with other revenue. With overall space between locations decreasing from around 8000 to 4500 square feet, studio space was not practical.

Over the past year, a few donors have given more than any individuals ever have to Works. But at the same time, the Board of mostly volunteer artists was inexperienced and often uncomfortable with fundraising. Membership revenue and grants fell short and the decision was made to move the benefit auction to Spring to avoid competition with the holidays. With the present uncertainty the auction has been delayed further, and would not be enough alone to sustain Works at the current location.

Is it just money?

Yes, Works needs money, but as much and more it needs people to reenergize it. It needs volunteers and Board members who will, as others have for 31 years, take the organization and remake it with new ideas and energy.

Works/San José is your community art and performance center. For years this sentence has started most descriptions of the organization. The meaning has now become more clear than ever—Works is just people. People like you and me who want there to be a home in San José for the experimental—the less established—the sometimes raw and unfiltered in art. Works is the only arts venue in the South Bay where programming is determined by community proposals—but nothing happens without individuals from the community pitching in.

How bad is it? What’s next?

Money has run out and several bills remain unpaid. Only a few remain on the Board of Directors, along with a couple more on the Executive Committee. A handful of dedicated volunteers have pledged support. The Board has enlisted the help of the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San José (RDA) to potentially exit our lease at 451 South 1st Street. Along with RDA we’re now awaiting a decision by a third party that will determine what happens next. There is not yet any new location for Works. Weeks ago RDA made a tentative proposal for another downtown space, but conflicting missions with the other tenant and space issues shelved this possibility.

What can I do to help?

Hey, that’s our question exactly. What can you do? Works needs just about everyone right now: leaders, workers, organizers, and donors. Works needs basic members now more than ever—if you haven’t already, please join or renew to show that Works has community support. We are grateful for the extraordinary support that Works has received from core volunteers and donors. But that list has to get longer for Works to survive.

Who should I contact?

You can email the entire Board directly:
works-board@somejunkwelike.com

Or you can contact the Board President, Steve Cooley:
president@workssanjose.org


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