Arts organizations in San Francisco face insurmountable challenges when faced with searching for a new home in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. In the 15 years that I have served as Director of First Exposures, we have moved our entire operation five times, often on short notice. “Couch surfing” is what it has often felt like. I am thrilled to let you know that, against all odds, we finally have secured the very first permanent home for First Exposures, and we need your help now more than ever as we make this incredible step forward!
Through a competitive application process, the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) has chosen First Exposures and Youth Speaks, a celebrated youth arts organization that was also facing displacement, to occupy a wonderful space together at its 2060 Folsom Street site, currently under construction in the Mission District.
The 2060 Folsom Street development is one of the first of its kind, offering below-market-rate space for arts education organizations at risk of displacement, co-locating them within a 127-unit affordable housing development in a community also impacted by displacement, and, as a result, providing free access to arts programming for youth and families. MEDA recognized that the First Exposures/Youth Speaks partnership was an ideal one to activate the space and provide a holistic approach to community building and cohesion.
Our aim together is to establish an unparalleled center for youth storytelling—a safe, vibrant, and transformative space for under-resourced youth to participate in substantive arts mentorship programming. The development of a permanent home in the Mission will allow both organizations to scale programs exponentially and to host events for under-resourced youth and families where they already are. With the long-term stability this facility provides, First Exposures will be able to expand the number of youth served annually by up to 50% and realize a long-held dream to add a program for transitional aged youth ages 18-24!
First, we must hire an architect and contractors and pay for all aspects of tenant improvements to the space. With a projected move-in date of late 2020, we will be working with MEDA and Youth Speaks to create an interior design that includes administrative and programmatic space, as well as intergenerational event, gathering, and art-making space for the community at large. These build-out costs, estimated at $1.25 million, are substantial. That’s why during this season of giving, I hope you will consider making the most generous gift you can to support First Exposures.
We wouldn’t be here today without you, so thank you for being a part of our family. Looking ahead, we’re ready to go from survival mode to future-planning mode. By making a gift now, you are investing in the future of First Exposures and helping us realize our mission of leveraging the power of mentoring relationships and photography to empower young people to thrive, express themselves creatively, and become leaders in their communities.
Thank you in advance for your support!
Director, First Exposures