What are we ready to let go of, what are we ready to embrace:
Dear Pieter friends, supporters, allies, and fans,
As a reminder, Pieter is a nonprofit organization and as such, it has a volunteer Board of Directors which has the full responsibility to manage and direct the activities of the organization. We, the Board of Directors of the Pieter Performance Space, hope that all of you are doing as well as possible during times of global health and economic crisis, national grief, and overdue social uprise.
It is our sad task to tell you that we have come to a very difficult decision: we will discontinue renting our studio space in Lincoln Heights after July 31, 2020.
WHY DID WE DECIDE TO CLOSE THE CURRENT LOCATION?
For several months, no one has been able to use the space. Due to public health concerns and regulations issued by the city of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, and the state of California, there have been no options for short term use of the space, or for any gathering of people who are not from the same household. Current ordinances concerning COVID-19 are ever changing and evolving. The legal requirements for sanitizing the space and providing ample PPE make safety supervision beyond our staffing capacity. With the possibility of another wave of the pandemic ahead in the fall, it is still uncertain as to when the space might be available for the kinds of rehearsals, classes, workshops and events we used to hold regularly.
Thankfully, our director, Dorothy has been able to work with some of our teachers to offer virtual classes during the past few months. These classes have provided some comfort to our community, as well as support for teaching artists and some minimal financial resources for Pieter.
OUR FINANCIAL GAP
To be blunt, we are bleeding financially. The rent for the space far exceeds our income. Our main income for covering monthly expenses (the largest one being rent) was from hourly studio rentals. And now with our expenses exceeding our income, in order to stay in our current space we have only two options: We can find new sources of revenue, or we can reduce expenses. Due to our inability to fulfill eligibility requirements, Pieter does not have the option of borrowing money to pay for rent.
Dorothy and the Board have held several emergency Board meetings to discuss our plight, including a Town Hall with our teachers and support staff.
WHAT ALTERNATIVES DID WE LOOK AT BEFORE MAKING THIS DECISION?
We discussed and pursued a number of options and issues including:
- Finding long-term renters who could carry rental burden until we can return
- Asking our landlord to lower rent
- Fundraising to keep the space
- Applying for grants and government funding programs
- Acknowledging the fact that the current space is not ADA compliant, thus in direct conflict with our mission to be a brave space for bodies of all kinds, and leaving it would be an opportunity to find a new, accessible home
- Letting go of the space and continuing to raise money that could go toward a new space
- The acknowledgment that Pieter is a community and not necessarily a specific location (as witnessed during this time of quarantine)
- The option to continue as a virtual space during a gap in physical locations
Our efforts to negotiate for lower rent, secure emergency funds and our search for long-term renters have been unsuccessful. Given the current economic crisis, we felt it was not morally right to ask for donations from the Pieter community to supplement paying rent for a space that we cannot use for an indeterminate period of time.
WHO HAD INPUT TO THE BOARD’S DECISION?
After receiving input from our staff, teaching, and work exchange communities, the Board of Directors has determined that we will not continue renting the current space after July 31, 2020.
While the decision to leave the space is very painful, the silver lining is that we will ultimately find a space that aligns with our mission, as well as one with a capacity larger than 50 people! We will use the income saved by this decision to fund our future home.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
We are confident that the Pieter community is strong and will continue to grow, even if we are no longer rooted in the physical space where Pieter began. We will search for a new home during the next 9-15 months. By eliminating the cost of the rent, Pieter can keep our essential staff, who provide extraordinary service that keeps us moving forward.
Meanwhile, we will be focusing on rebuilding our internal structure (expanding our staff capacity, developing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion advisory committee, developing a programming application and review system) in order to lay a foundation for an equitable and sustainable organization, while at the same time expanding our virtual programming, and hearing from our community: How can Pieter better serve you? What does YOUR future Pieter look like? And furthermore: What makes Pieter a brave space? Brave for who? Brave for what? What brave actions can we take in this moment as a group and individuals? What vision of Pieter do we wish to build? What are we ready to let go of, what are we ready to embrace?
Thank you for reading this lengthy message. If you want to get more involved during this period of evolution, we welcome your time, energy and skill. We have many tasks ahead, including the formation of a DEI committee, the development of a more transparent and accessible programming process, fundraising for our future home, and much more.
If you have suggestions or questions, please direct them to the Pieter Board via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In strength, peace, love, and unity,
The Pieter Board
Christine Suarez, President
Mona Field, VP
Carmela Hermann Dietrich
Amanda Yates Garcia