An in depth report from NY1 News explains how the Inclusive Creative Economy Fund has galvanized the future of a venerable downtown theater, La Mama. Thanks to a $3 million line of credit from LISC, the nearly 60-year-old institution, which has nurtured thousands of experimental artists and engages a broad diversity of audiences, is able to renovate its aging building and continue its valuable work. The fund’s model of raising debt capital from an array of impact investors to support creative economies and stimulate job growth, the report noted, can be scaled for communities across the country where real estate costs and other forces threaten local arts and culture.
The excerpt below is from:
New Fund Allows City's Creative Artists to Have Space to Thrive
By Matt McClure, NY1
As rents keep rising, artists and creative entrepreneurs in the city often have a difficult time finding space to create. A new fund is trying to change that. A theatre in the East Village is one organization benefiting from its innovative loan program.
La MaMa Theatre began in 1961. That's when Ellen Stewart, a fashion designer with no theatrical experience realized some artists needed a space to create.
“La MaMa is a place of experimentation. And maybe we try something that you've never tried before -- or has never been tried before, ever,” said Mia Yoo, La MaMa’s Artistic Director.
Six years later, La MaMa moved to its permanent space on East 4th Street.
“Ellen Stewart, our founder, purchased it in 1967 with the help of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations for $25,000,” said Managing Director Mary Fulham.
Now, after 58 years, the building is getting a much-needed makeover.
“All of our facilities are from the late 1800s,” Yoo said. “If we're thinking about the sustainability of the organization and making sure that these spaces remain dedicated to the artists, then it's out of necessity that we're renovating.”
The overhaul will restore the historic facade, add an elevator, create new performance spaces and upgrade everything behind the walls, too. Much of the 18 million dollar cost will come from a city grant. But there's a catch.
“It's just reimbursable funds,” said Fulham. “So it's like where are we going to get that kind of money?”
Enter the Inclusive Creative Economy Fund and LISC, the Local Initiative Support Corporation, which raise and loan money to organizations that own, lease and manage affordable spaces for businesses in creative industries.