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As feared, the whitewashing of the mural in the basement of Santa Ana’s Santora Building, on which we reported a month ago, was a prelude to something even worse. Word comes down today from Alicia Rojas that “the new Santora Arts owner Jack Jakosky has sent out EVICTION notices to resident artists in the SANTORA. Its the end of an era.”
She adds: “Where is the City Council on this? What now? No artists in the village.” Among the hashtags in her post: “#Gentrification.”
She later commented: “He said in an email ‘I want to get rid of the disgusting behaviour of the basement’”
The artist community of the Santora Building — “resident artists” being the term they use for ones who have been in the building for over a decade — is up in arms. Some comments over the past hour:
“Wow. Very sad. Curious what he plans to do with that building. Does he not pay attention to what kind of movement is growing in this city. Amazing lack of heart and observation.”
“His plans are a different kind of art and scene…can you say bourgeoisie art?”
“Lets complaint to the city and take back the building set up a meting Artist made the Santoras what it is today all that work and many years of stragled can’t be in vane…”
“Studio Del Sotano, The Green Door Gallery are out…the others have one more year left on their lease…”
“Almost 20 years ago the Santiras Building was a hole for drugs and home less, the selling if the building is just a pretext to finish getting rid if the Artist, we made what the Santoras is today lets take it back, I’m ready to fight to the end…”
Is this just a matter of a landlord being mean, capricious, foolish? No. It’s a matter of whether a city — or all cities, for that matter — wants to nurture an artistic community or not.
Check out that last comment: two decades ago, the Santora building was reportedly a nightmare. Today — and for at least a decade now — it’s the anchor of a bustling “Artists’ Village” with shops and restaurants and tourism. That didn’t just happen. It was the “sweat equity” that artists put in to turn it around that helped made it a desirable place for investment, that attracted a positive culture. But “sweat equity” isn’t necessarily real equity — and having done the city and community a service that they didn’t have to do, that was undertaken only with the expectation of continued community support, Santa Ana’s artist’s are now being shown the door.
It’s not just wrong — it’s foolish. It’s exactly the wrong lesson for a city and community to teach its creative class: “yes, go improve things as much as you can — and when you’ve been successful, we’re taking it over, and you’re out on your collective ass.”
I know that there are legal niceties and considerations that may have made that inevitable — although if the city government had really cared to avoid it I suspect that they could have done more — but from the artist’s perspective, the lesson is clear. To quote from Evita: it’s “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.”
If you don’t treat the creative class well in response to their efforts, they stop making those efforts. And then where would Santa Ana have been? And what does Jack Jakowsky do if his investment, once he’s cut the heart out of the community that built it, fails? What then — and who do they expect to come fix it next time?
Perhaps the answer is “no one.” And that’s just stupid social policy — because what has been built up and taken away may not so easily be built up again.
UPDATE: More comments coming in:
“The plans are to clear the whole down town, it starter many years ago but no body did nothing we can make the difference today lets let them know that we are aware of it, we change the whole downtown with our Art they used us for almost 20 years is pay back time. We Artist deserve a Building and the Heart of The Artist Village is ours lets take it back…”
“Truly sorry Ally. This just isn’t right, it is your community, love, hard work, and part of your life. I know I am naive about the politics of Santa Ana, but don’t give up…if there is something that can be done. You did so much for the artist community, know that. If there is a will there is a way…and you can always try at least.”