Listen closely, Santa Fe teens. If you don't stop dicking around, you risk the very real possibility of losing Warehouse 21 forever.
Concert and workshop attendance at the teen art center is consistently low. Now, W21 is having trouble paying the rent, which caused the board to seek a resolution with the city to redesign W21's lease (tip of the hat to the Journal North, which first covered this story).
The organization feels that the value of its services to the community outweighs its land lease costs, held by the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp., on behalf of Santa Fe.
"We're looking at about $17,000 a year, and as it stands right now, we do need the help," W21 Board Member Boni Armijo tells SFR. "If we get to a point where can just pay for the land lease, we will."
It's really quite simple: More teens showing up and paying for shows and workshops means more money and, despite what hip-hop fools will tell you, fewer problems. Yet an entire generation of teens takes the place for granted. Having booked shows at W21 for nearly a decade, I have spoken with many touring musicians who said that their hometowns had nothing even remotely capable of encouraging structured, multimedia artistic experimentation.
"I don't think local kids know how to utilize us in an entrepreneurial way," Concert Coordinator Ana Wooldridge says. "Between the period of time without a dedicated building and a lack of mentor-like involvement from previous generations, there's a lot hindering them."
OK, but when my friends and I began promoting shows, we faced similar obstacles. Yet we took control of the situation and transformed W21 into the space we wanted it to be. All it took was a little effort on our part. Today, however, I get the feeling that the venue is little more than a warm place to check Facebook profiles, so I asked a few youths involved with W21 what they think.
Ahtmah Khalsa, a 17-year old guitarist and founding member of fledgling band Tru Youth, has only been involved with W21 since the summertime, but already holds a deep respect for the nonprofit.
"[Warehouse 21] has been a great place for me to hang out and work on my music, but it needs more publicity and more support " he says. "This is the only safe haven for kids in the city, and I wouldn't stand for it closing; this should be a part of Santa Fe forever."
The first step has been the reduction in special event rent costs for youth promoters. Whereas a flat fee of $300 has been the norm, a new 60/40 split structure (with the 40 percent going to the promoter) has now been implemented. This split may not sound like a major change or even a particularly great deal, but it's a hell of a lot better than scaring teens out of booking shows with high numbers. $300 doesn't sound like a lot of money to those of us with jobs, but to a teen, the number may seem daunting. This hasn't fixed everything by any means, but new promoters are popping up already.
"I'm positive it's because of the rent change," Wooldridge says. "It's a slow process, but I believe that the coming year will go a long way to showing kids they can collaborate and flourish here."
So teens, stop bitching about how there's nothing to do when you have something like Warehouse 21 in your own backyard. And parents, throw a couple bucks at your kids and drop them off there, knowing it's a wonderful, affordable space full of art and music.
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