AngelaJossy's Blog

Apr. 7, 2010 at 2:21pm

Brainstorm with me - how do we keep this alive?

I would like to hear your ideas on how you can help Speakeasy Arts Cooperative stay open. Our rent is going up by $500 starting in May and we don't have enough members to support this increase. We can barely pay the rent we have now.

We are open to the idea of sponsorship. Restaurants could take turns sponsoring our Thursday night community dinner. Other businesses could sponsor events or even an individual membership for a deserving artist. We need community support now more than ever. Let us know if you'd like to get involved.

If a business were to join as an honorary member for $100 a month, they would be entitled to use our event space once a month for free.

We've been the beneficiary of a lot of media attention and we are willing to share the spotlight with your business. This is a  great way to show the community that your company supports the arts in Tacoma on a grassroots level.

We are also open to the idea of someone opening a coffeeshop inside our space and/or turning our kitchen into a commercial kitchen that we could make available for rent.

The one thing I will not do is raise the rent for the artists. This is non-negotiable.

What do you think? I want to hear your ideas and I'd very much like to hear your pledges of support.

comments [29]  |  posted under art, event space, gallery, Speakeasy, Tacoma


by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 4/7/2010 @ 2:37pm
I'd be willing to put a couple of bucks in the electronic tip jar every month. Make it fun, say on the last day of the month check your account and put in the last dollar and cents amount. For instance my account today is says 478.32 I'd put 8.32 into the electronic tip jar. You are are internets savvy , surely you haz paypal. Speakeasy is a great idea but it does need some extra support these days. A bunch of people just kicking in a little can really help keep this on Broadway and see it flourish.

by izenmania on 4/7/2010 @ 3:04pm
Do you, at this time, have any income for the organization other than artist memberships? I know that many of the concerts are put on by the musician members and thus the door is kept by them, per the terms of their membership.

by Erik on 4/7/2010 @ 3:09pm
We are open to the idea of sponsorship. Restaurants could take turns sponsoring our Thursday night community dinner.

Confer more value to potential supporters.

by AngelaJossy on 4/7/2010 @ 3:19pm
Many companies sponsor festivals in return for logos, banners, advertising, etc. Why wouldn't these same companies sponsor Speakeasy - a festival that lasts ALL YEAR. It seems like a good investment to me.

by NineInchNachos on 4/7/2010 @ 6:21pm
I had a funny idea for performance art project.... PREEMPTIVE RIBBON CUTTINGS for projects LESS THAN 1/2 COMPLETED.

If you figure out how to make money off that idea please cut me in.

Also I will eventually need a place to have the next Tacomic Party.. how much to rent the space?

by fredo on 4/7/2010 @ 10:17pm
You asked for ideas. Here's mine.

Ask you landlord to skip the $500/month rent increase. Show him your books if it would help. Doubt if he has any hot prospect for your space waiting on the sidelines. Last time I looked downtown Tacoma was wall to wall "space for lease" signs.

What do you think Nachos?

by NineInchNachos on 4/7/2010 @ 10:20pm
show landlord your "books" (if you know what i mean)

by AngelaJossy on 4/7/2010 @ 11:03pm
We charge $400 to rent the space for parties.

by NineInchNachos on 4/7/2010 @ 11:12pm
yikes! the helm was only like 100

by L.S.Erhardt on 4/7/2010 @ 11:23pm
Bikini letterpress?

Interestingly, that may work.

You know, the Chair Affair auction raised $50,000 for the NW Furniture bank. Perhaps some similar fund raiser? Have 50 artists make some sort of ginormous collaborative piece art that you could auction off piecemeal.
OR allow in more artists.
Or allow in "Transient Artists" who need space only once or twice a month for $250. Or how about sponsorship? No Nike Swoosh over your door, but you know what I mean.
OR get dirt and blackmail your landlord.
OR find a cheaper place.

by jenyum on 4/7/2010 @ 11:28pm
Wish I had any money! Crossing my fingers you guys can hold on to the space. I second the "talk to your landlord" motion. Honestly, what better option is coming right around the corner?

Failing that, have you looked into grant money?

by L.S.Erhardt on 4/8/2010 @ 12:24am
When it comes down to it, which is a greater evil?

Letting the Speakeasy fail and dissolve or charge 20 people $25 more per month to keep it open?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 4/8/2010 @ 12:43am
I go by Speakeasy every single day and it seems to me it is vacant most of the time. How about turning part of it into a poor man's Suite 133. Lots of space there I'm sure can be used for a couple of desks and tables with chairs, put in some wifi and a coffee pot and and I'm sure you'll get some takers for like 50-100 bucks a month. Sure it wouldn't be as fancy as the Suite 133 but the space fee's would help, you'd have people in the building during all hours of the day and it would look like win/win to me. Maybe the Speakeasy coworking studio will become the hip coworking studio in town.

by L.S.Erhardt on 4/8/2010 @ 1:04am
How about "free guest classes"?

By "free" I mean free for someone to put on, but not free to attend. And by "guest" I mean people who are not Speakeasy members.
Crenshaw makes a phenomenal bubble tea. A tea so good that it'll make a blind man sing. You let Crenshaw, who is not a Speakeasy member teach his 1 hr bubble tea class for free. In exchange, Crenshaw gives you 50% of ticket sales. Crenshaw wins because use of the venue (and it's name) is free to him, you win because you get $.

If you got people to do this daily, think of the $$$. Think of the reduction of risk involved too... If I want to teach a class but can't afford a rental, I won't do it. But if the venue is free for ME in exchange for a cut of the ticket sales, I'd do it.
And think of the class attendees. If Crenshaw's overhead was $1,000 for the space, that $1,000 will be reflected in the ticket price. He may have to charge $30. Now, if the venue is $0 to him, he could charge $10 and still come out ahead. Me, as a potential attendee, will find $10 far more accessible than $30. More people will show up.
...kinda like the Wal-Mart approach, but that approach apparently does work. Well.

by jenyum on 4/8/2010 @ 9:13am
I'd be all over a co-working space in the $100 a month range.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 4/8/2010 @ 9:33am
You take the co-working space, I'll bring the bubble tea. Seriously, Speakeasy could be the coolest co-working space anywhere and it could provide the needed revenue to keep the rest of the operation floating. Any space that wants to stay alive has to have life in it as much as possible. It is the time we spend in the spaces we occupy that makes it so important and ultimately have meaning and even life.

by NineInchNachos on 4/8/2010 @ 9:39am
Do you have WiFi ?

by thriceallamerican on 4/8/2010 @ 9:48am
Probably could market co-working on a per-day basis, too. Something in the $5-$10 is a good reasonable alternative to the cost of a few lattes for the honor of sitting in a noisy coffee shop...

by L.S.Erhardt on 4/8/2010 @ 10:29am
Business is a cutthroat world. Only the smart, active and the aggressive survive.

How much of these does the Speakeasy have?

Why is bumping the rent up verboten? That's the same kind of attitude we see in politics, that some things (like union pensions) are off the table, even though dealing with them would clearly resolve the issue.
Can another, less expensive location be acquired?
Can your landlord be reasoned with? In case they did not notice, there are many empty buildings with no one lining up to rent them. Now is an ill time to demand rent increases.
Can you allow two more members?
What can you do? And what have you considered?

by L.S.Erhardt on 4/8/2010 @ 11:00am
Better yet, answer me this one question, Angela:

why did you open the Speakeasy?
I want the for real, 100% honest answer as to what your motive actually is.
-> this is not some sort of "value judgment" or whatever like that. It's curiosity, and possibly an idea about how to help the Speakeasy.

I'll explain my reason for asking once you tell me your why.

by AngelaJossy on 4/8/2010 @ 11:20am
Yes we have wifi

Any member could use the space in the mezzanine to work there. I've done it many times. Can be a bit noisy and distracting though.

I'm not bumping up the rent for the artists because I would lose members that way, they have a tough enough time paying the $100 plus utilities and I made them a promise that I wouldn't raise it.

We have room for quite a few more members. For example the music room is scarcely used. I think every evening from 6 to 10 pm there should be a different music teacher in there giving lessons. That could be 7 new members right there.

The Healing Arts Room has only one person using it now. Potentially that could be a different person each day of the week so that could be 6 more members there. We should have a reiki person, a psychic medium, an acupuncturist, any sort of councilor or psychologist or any number of other type of healing arts in there.

We have room for two more in our retail section. This can be any sort of handcrafted goods.

We have room for 2-3 more painters or photographers in our downstairs gallery.

If Crenshaw wants to teach a bubble tea class, all he'd have to do is get a member to sponsor him in. We have outside people doing things all the time during our events or our Thursday night dinners.

I'm not opposed to outside people teaching classes there, they just need to come and talk to me.

What I need though is something sustainable that I can count on every month because I'm personally going to have to sign another lease and I'm not even able to pay my own bills right now, let alone cover an extra $500 for Speakeasy.

To answer your question Thorax, I started Speakeasy because I fell in love with the space, I saw a need in the arts community and I knew it was in my power to make it happen. I didn't know if it would last or if it would be like Kulture Lab - just a 6 month deal. Now that I'm in there and I see how Speakeasy is helping people I don't want to give it up. If we had just 5-6 more members we'd be golden. We are so close now but we are running out of time.

by AngelaJossy on 4/8/2010 @ 11:24am
The reason you might have found it vacant is that we are only open Thursday - Sunday 11 am to 6 pm except for when we have events.

by L.S.Erhardt on 4/8/2010 @ 11:47am
What good is a promise not to raise the rent when the doors end up being closed? What good is it to put your own self in the hole because you aren't willing to spread $500 across 20 or however many people?

Some portion of this HAS to benefit you, Angela. It's unreasonable to expect you to not be able to make your own personal bills. You do have to watch out for Number One... because no one else will.

How do you intend to get more people in the Speakeasy?

Have you considered telling the current members that you have to raise their rent by $25 for now and it will be lowered proportionately as the 5-6 new members join in?

As an artist myself, I can tell you that if I were a member, I would find a way to scrounge up $25 extra per month to keep the Speakeasy open. If I didn't the doors would close, and what good would that do me?

Please take no offense at this:
If I were a bank, I would not give you a loan. It's one thing to have a contract to a specified rent during the duration of the contract. It's another to be unwilling to do what it takes to keep the doors open... including raising the rent. If it was my money that was at stake, you'd best be operating like a business to stay in business.

I see 17 members listed. That's $29.41 each.

It's ultimately your decision. But I will tell you what I would do:
I would raise the rent by $29.41. And as new members join in, I would scale the rent back down proportionately until I reached $100 again.

That is my advice, you may take it or leave it.

by Jesse on 4/8/2010 @ 9:41pm
Get a contract grant writer.

by Jesse on 4/11/2010 @ 6:50pm
I stopped by on Friday after checking out the chalk-off incognito. Anyways, I left my business card with my current number on it. I helped run a significant non-profit for a number of years and can help you get organized. I retain org charts, fund raiser templates, and general knowledge about running a successful non-profit. If you are game, I will help you.

I do need one thing from you. You need to know where you want this to go. Do you want to just break even and pay the rent? Do you want to make a little money to help other artists? Do you want this as a starting point for something greater? Do you want to be a non-profit Exec with the aim of helping others in the art world? Can you see this as the start of something big for Tacoma? You need a goal --- that's different from a mission statement.

Please call me. You have my card. I'm excited to help.

by AngelaJossy on 4/14/2010 @ 10:56pm
Jesse, your card never made it into my hand. Please email me at Thanks

by Dave_L on 4/17/2010 @ 9:51am

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 4/17/2010 @ 5:23pm
I think Angela Jossy should have won. I have never known Angela to shill for anything.

by greenfringegarden on 4/17/2010 @ 5:53pm
Fredo's comments are timely. Right not it is a bad time to lose tenants. Why the $500. increase? Rents are going down not up.