Studio at 550 faces relocation from its current 550 Mass. Ave, Central Square location due to the landlord intending on building micro-unit apartments in the building, retaining the first floor tenant businesses. Especially, at this time of COVID-19, relocating is more about surviving first and through it all so on the other side (whatever that may look like) we can persevere in providing space, resources, and programming that supports multidisciplinary exchange. Where we stand now is complicated, yet simple. We’ve had not had rental income for over 6 months and owe rent on a space we need to move out of. Our landlord has graciously offered to escrow our rent and give it back to us when we vacate so that we will have some seed money to relocate and negotiate a new lease somewhere.

In order to raise funds to make at least the $11,500 required for that, we have held hope that the City of Cambridge could utilize some emergency funding to help us stay in Cambridge and be able to open when it’s safe to do so. In recent events, there was an order on the agenda of the summer session council meeting to utilize funds from the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund to be able to be put towards arts organizations. As they did with for-profit small businesses. As they did with non-profits who were providing COVID-related services to the community. Unfortunately, Councilor Denise Simmons utilized her charter right, tabling the agenda item until September 14!  Councilor Alanna Mallon worked hard to see if it was possible to put that agenda item on the special meeting Aug 10 agenda, but the City Solicitor granted it was not and had to be heard at a REGULAR council meeting instead.

This has left the Studio in an even more precarious place and we’ve decided to keep on working until all avenues are exhausted. We see established bars and restaurants close around us. Not many will be coming back. These bars and restaurants are inherently dependent upon the performing arts sector to drive foot traffic through their doors with drinks or dinner before or after a show, that the ecosystem seems to be collapsing. Especially in Central Square, where for so long arts has been the center point of attention for the identity, yet there seems to be no provisions or safeguards to keep it sustainable. Developers have moved in and built apartments and condos and without any restriction or policies protecting the arts in particular, we face the hollowing out of the essence of what actually built the square in the first place…the arts.

In time, apartments and condos will loose value as the reason for their high prices is the “demand”. The demand only comes because the heart of the square is driven by the activity of the arts. Remove the arts, and what do you have left. A hollow shell of parcels of land devoid of soul.

The next step on our agenda is to have the artists voices heard through an ongoing projection installation adjacent to the Studio’s current location. We will be doing a fundraiser/arts activism piece which calls on YOU to create content. Donations start at $1 per word (minimum of 10 words) and you can have your voice projected onto the adjacent building throughout the month of August. It is planned on also being live streamed to increase reach, delivering those streams to the inboxes of influential policy makers and for the world to see.  Other content can include actual art, and video.  Please stay tuned for a place on this website to make your donation and submit your content.  We are looking forward to speaking up and including you with us on this.

Meanwhile, keep sending your support for the agenda item to pass at the City Council meeting in September!  Colleague Marissa Molinar of Midday Movement, has created this handy template:

On the state-level, be sure to check in with MASS Creative, who is championing arts-related advocacy on the state level.

Thank you,

Studio at 550