Six months after the Warehouse Arts Management Organization took over the lease of the building where BICAS is located, the two organizations are working together to improve the building and the community that works there.
BICAS administrative coordinator and Warehouse Arts Management Organization board member, John Salgado, said WAMO, BICAS and the artists in the building have formed a committee to help decide what changes and improvements should be made.
“It is unorthodox, things aren’t usually done that way,” Salgado said of the committee-based decision making.
Prior to the takeover, BICAS officials believed they would have to relocate because of various disagreements with the previous lease holder.
Salgado said BICAS tried to bring the collaborative approach they use to the whole building.
“BICAS was good about laying out a plans and working together,” Salgado said. “We took the collaborative model we use at BICAS and then we expanded to include [the artists]. It is not the fastest system in the world, but it works. Everybody feels like they have a voice.”
Chris Stevens, an artist who leases space in the building, said it was challenge to adjust at first.
“Any time there is change, it is bound to be a little uncomfortable initially,” Stevens said. “They seem to be be stepping up and doing what is necessary. I’m just happy to have my space here and be able to work in it.”
BICAS lent WAMO nearly $50,000 in exchange for its rent over the next five years. WAMO is using the loan to fix issues in the building.
Salgado said so far WAMO ha repaired the roof, installed required fire doors and made sewer upgrades. WAMO also created a website for the all the tenants in the building to communicate about their upcoming events and needs in the building.
Salgado said WAMO’s next task is to fix the electrical system. According to Salgado, people were running their own wires throughout the building. TEP told the group that the electric boxes were undersized and would have to be replaced.
BICAS board member Erik Ryberg said he was pleased to see that WAMO was also looking at adding a cooling system to the basement, which is his main priority.
He said it has been a relief for BICAS to not have to worry about their lease for five years.
“We spent a great deal of time looking for property that was for sale or space that might benefit us,” Salgado said. “One of the good things is, it got us out in the community and made people aware of our plight, but it took us away from we really need to do here.”
He said since WAMO took over, there has been a lot more communication between all the groups and it has prompted a change in the building.
“We noticed right away there was a real change of attitude,” Salgado said. “There was a lot of miscommunication between the artists and BICAS.”