Mayor Lee Celebrates Arrival of Burning Man Project & Welcomes SF Camerawork & PianoFight Theater to Central Market

8/5/11—  Mayor Edwin M. Lee today celebrated The Burning Man Project’s launch in Central Market at a lively event in United Nations Plaza hosted by the new nonprofit organization. The theme, “Welcome Home,” is the greeting used at the entrance of the annual Burning Man event, and was chosen for this event to celebrate the organization’s new nonprofit orientation and its return to the center of Burning Man’s city of cultural origin, San Francisco. The organization will initially focus on its program of community-building and economic revitalization in Central Market District.

“I am thrilled to see the continued transformation of one of our challenging intersections in the City into a hub of community-oriented arts organizations” said Mayor Lee. “The Burning Man Project’s commitment to participatory arts activities and community-building makes them an invaluable partner in the City’s efforts to transform the area.”

“The Burning Man Project is a new organization that aims to use the arts to build community around the world,” said Burning Man Project Board President Larry Harvey. “Our highest priority is to start with our new neighborhood, Central Market, and to work in creative collaboration with community partners and citizens. We like to go to the root of things.”

The Burning Man Project recently moved into a 20,000 square foot space at 995 Market Street at the corner of Sixth Street. The project’s fiscal sponsor, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, has already participated in neighborhood revitalization activities by placing two 20-foot flower sculptures at Seventh and Market streets in collaboration with the Arts Commission’s Artery Project.

Mayor Lee also announced the imminent arrival of a well-established visual arts organization near Burning Man’s new Sixth and Market Streets home and of a new theater to occupy the former Original Joe’s nearby on Taylor Street. SF Camerawork, a 37 year old nonprofit photography organization that champions the work of emerging photographers and also runs First Exposures, an award-winning mentoring program for underserved youth, announced it has signed a 15-year lease for the top floor of 1011 Market Street. The location is next door to the well-established Luggage Store Gallery and Central City Hospitality House Community Art Program, across from Gray Area Foundation for the Arts and a block from new gallery Satellite 66 at 66 Sixth Street. SF Camerawork will occupy a space that has been vacant for 20 years with exhibition space, offices, and ample room for its First Exposures mentoring program.

The founders of PianoFight Productions (recently named “San Francisco’s Best Up-and-Coming Theater Company by SF Weekly ) will sign a 10 year lease for the 144 Taylor Street property. They intend to build out 8,000 sq. ft. at the location encompassing three stages, a restaurant/bar and rehearsal and office space for burgeoning theater companies. The aim is to create an all-in-one solution for new artists to create, rehearse and perform for Bay Area audiences. It is located in the old Original Joe’s site, which burned down in 2007 and will relocate in October to North Beach. The downstairs of the building has been leased by Clay Underground, a ceramics studio that provides affordable studio space and classes to ceramic artists.

“The arrival of SF Camerawork and PianoFight Productions, and their desires to make a long-term commitment to the Central Market neighborhood, is an affirmation that the vision of this area as a community-serving arts district is becoming a reality,” said Mayor Lee.

SF Camerawork, PianoFight and Burning Man Project each chose to relocate to Central Market in part due to the City’s Central Market Partnership efforts, which under leadership from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), engages a range of City agencies and community-based partners as well as the private sector in the revitalization of the neighborhood. Northern California Community Loan Fund played a significant role in assisting the arts organizations in their efforts to find space. The SF Camerawork and PianoFight property owners, the Thacher and Duggan families respectively, have both been proactive in upgrading their buildings and welcoming arts uses to the Central Market neighborhood.