Bindlestiff Studio

Bindlestiff Studio

Originally opened in 1989, Bindlestiff Studio became the only permanent, community-based performing arts venue in the nation dedicated to showcasing the arts of the Philippine diaspora. Bindlestiff provides the often underserved Pilipino-American community access to diverse offerings in theatrical productions, music and film festivals, workshops in directing, production, acting, stand-up

Bindlestiff Studio

Originally opened in 1989, Bindlestiff Studio became the only permanent, community-based performing arts venue in the nation dedicated to showcasing the arts of the Philippine diaspora. Bindlestiff provides the often underserved Pilipino-American community access to diverse offerings in theatrical productions, music and film festivals, workshops in directing, production, acting, stand-up comedy, and writing, as well as a children and youth theater program. OUR MISSION Bindlestiff Studio cultivates artists who reflect and celebrate the diverse values, traditions, and histories of Pilipino/a/x cultures through bold artistic expression and community engagement. As the longest running black box theater in the district, we rose from the rubble of the Loma Prieta earthquake and have since endured displacement from our original space, economic booms and busts, shifting neighborhood demographics, a global pandemic, and now an apparent “doom loop”. Through it all we’ve relied on a steadfastly loyal community of supporters, neighborhood advocates, donors, volunteers, and immensely talented artists. In 2003, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) acquired our building for a low-cost housing project, displacing us and the other tenants in the process. In reaction to public outcry from our community, SFRA committed to building the shell of a new 99-seat, black box theater for Bindlestiff. We were able to make our home in the new space in 2011, at which point we immediately began to expand our programs for a hungry audience. Given our history, we know that having a space in San Francisco is more than a luxury - it is a responsibility.

About the Organization:

Originally opened in 1989, Bindlestiff Studio became the only permanent, community-based performing arts venue in the nation dedicated to showcasing the arts of the Philippine diaspora. Bindlestiff provides the often underserved Pilipino-American community access to diverse offerings in theatrical productions, music and film festivals, workshops in directing, production, acting, stand-up comedy, and writing, as well as a children and youth theater program. OUR MISSION Bindlestiff Studio cultivates artists who reflect and celebrate the diverse values, traditions, and histories of Pilipino/a/x cultures through bold artistic expression and community engagement. As the longest running black box theater in the district, we rose from the rubble of the Loma Prieta earthquake and have since endured displacement from our original space, economic booms and busts, shifting neighborhood demographics, a global pandemic, and now an apparent “doom loop”. Through it all we’ve relied on a steadfastly loyal community of supporters, neighborhood advocates, donors, volunteers, and immensely talented artists. In 2003, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) acquired our building for a low-cost housing project, displacing us and the other tenants in the process. In reaction to public outcry from our community, SFRA committed to building the shell of a new 99-seat, black box theater for Bindlestiff. We were able to make our home in the new space in 2011, at which point we immediately began to expand our programs for a hungry audience. Given our history, we know that having a space in San Francisco is more than a luxury - it is a responsibility.

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

21-25 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

National

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

21-25 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

National

The Issue:

Downtown San Francisco is in crisis. The street where we are located (Sixth Street) has witnessed a fair share of that devastation. Businesses have shuttered. Residents have fled. Arts spaces have moved. A tri-demic of COVID, homelessness, and opioid abuse have scarred our community.
The recent spate of layoffs in the tech sector and the exodus of major retailers have further dimmed the prospects of a rebound.
However, when we have rehearsals and shows, our little corner of Sixth and Howard feels a bit more vibrant and welcoming. Despite all the challenges, our community continues to build something beautiful for those of us who refuse to leave.
Arts and cultural economic activity accounted for 4.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), or $876.7 billion, in 2020 (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis). The arts & culture sector has proven to be more resilient than other industries. According to empirical analysis by Douglas Noonan at Indiana University, states with a diverse, vibrant arts ecosystem recovered faster from the Great Recession.
Bindlestiff is an integral part of that diverse, vibrant arts ecosystem here in the Bay Area. Just prior to the pandemic, we closed out 2019 having produced/co-produced 20 distinct productions, ranging from one-night events to three-week theatrical runs. These 20 productions attracted over 5K patrons and generated nearly $70K in revenue (ticket sales, donation, merch, etc.). Despite the pandemic, we continued to program events. In 2021, we paid nearly $100K to artists/contractors.
Moreover, our programming activated the space year-round. There was barely a night when the space wasn’t buzzing with energy. As critics portend the death of downtown SF, we remain intent on helping to keep it alive.

The Solution:

Bindlestiff’s “Gather” Artists Residency Program will provide performing arts groups funding for rehearsal space, performance rentals, artists fees, production costs, and/or technical staff to create year-round in-person workshops and performances to reignite creative placemaking on our block, one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic.
 
Our residency program seeks to accelerate this recovery by encouraging regular visits to Sixth Street. Whereas a one-time large festival might attract a critical mass, consistent activity at the theater builds community. During the pandemic, people grew accustomed to online meetings and rehearsals. And while that convenience will certainly endure, the only way we can heal from the trauma of COVID is to gather together once again.
 
The “Gather” Residency will focus on community-based performance groups/troupes in order to maximize the number of artists congregating at Bindlestiff. In the past, these troupes might have upwards of 15-20 performers. Our goal is to fund four residencies across a two-year period. Gold Futures funds will seed a new production from each of the artists-in-residence. Each resident will receive $20K to go towards their production (paying artists). An additional $5K will be dedicated to Bindlestiff in order to cover the cost of staffing/rent/insurance for each residency.
Each production will run for at least two consecutive weekends at Bindlestiff with no fewer than six live shows. In-person brainstorms, fine-tuning writing workshops, and rehearsals could stretch the process out an additional 2-3 months for a total of 4-5 months. Once the groups begin their residency, the space would be activated for almost two solid years.

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