In the San Francisco Bay Area’s thriving real estate market, the reality of displacement presents a serious challenge to retaining strong, vibrant and diverse arts communities. We understand that securing affordable space is one of the biggest challenges facing nonprofit organizations, our grantees included. In search of a long-term solution, the Rainin Foundation partnered with the Northern California Community Loan Fund in 2013 to create the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) to stabilize physical spaces for arts and cultural nonprofits in San Francisco.

The Rainin Foundation seeded CAST with a $5 million grant over five years and continues to support CAST as an advocate and strategic advisor.

The Innovative Model

Luggage Store Gallery

Luggage Store Gallery, 1007 Market Street, was one of the first buildings that CAST acquired. Photo credit: Kegan Marling.

Through collaborations with nonprofits, government agencies and many other community partners, CAST helps to stabilize arts and cultural organizations by:

  • Acquiring properties to lease to arts tenants
  • Bundling leases to sustain affordable rents for multiple arts groups and those not prepared to buy
  • Building the capacity of cultural organizations to help them gain a permanent asset without risking their operations and programs

Two Pilot Projects

CAST’s first major undertaking was acquiring a pair of buildings for the Luggage Store Gallery (1007 Market Street) and CounterPulse (80 Turk Street). These San Francisco-based organizations have been operating since the early 1990s, but in 2013 both were at risk of displacement due to a building sale and fast-rising rents. Today, these nonprofits are secure in their spaces with below-market lease rates and the opportunity to purchase the building in seven to 10 years. And, thanks to a deed restriction, these buildings can only ever be used by arts nonprofits.

A Bold Solution to Real Estate Challenges

CAST continues to attract public and private partners and is looking ahead to even larger projects, including management of a 12,000-square-foot historic building at 447 Minna for arts and cultural organizations. To achieve its goals, CAST aims to leverage existing networks and resources to continue to purchase and renovate cultural facilities.

CAST’s innovative financial model has gained national recognition for its promising role in securing permanent, affordable space for the arts. We are hopeful that this creative model will inspire other funders and help raise awareness of displacement issues and the importance of keeping artists and arts organizations in our communities.

Learn more at cast-sf.org.

Top photo: CounterPulse Building, 80 Turk Street. Photo credit: Kegan Marling.