Nonprofit Intersection for the Arts Lays Off Senior Staff, Faces "Substantial Changes"

Famed local gallery Intersection for the Arts found itself in an awkward position in 2011, after decamping from its old Valencia Street venue and moving to the Chronicle building in SOMA.

Its new home is a cluster of brightly-lit rooms in the middle of a large co-working space, shared by start-ups, non-profits, and -- as of a few months ago -- Yahoo. Building owner Hearst Corporation shielded everything behind double-layered glass doors with security passcodes -- an ideal setup for an office, perhaps, but not a theater.

While the shared workstation model made rent affordable, it also seemed constrictive. Interviewed last fall, Intersection's program director Sean San Jose characterized the security barriers as vestiges "of an old fascist regime."

Now, it appears the organization is facing even greater troubles. Today San Jose and two other program directors -- Kevin Chen and Rebeka Rodriguez -- announced they would be laid off along with other staff at the end of May, as Intersection undergoes "substantial changes."

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"With the specific shifts in the economy and culture of San Francisco, it has been increasingly difficult to operate and sustain a community-based nonprofit arts organization like Intersection," the three wrote in an e-mail. "It is truly miraculous that we were able to exist for so long and be able to thrive with programs for as long as we did."

The departing staff members have yet to comment, and we have yet to hear what changes are afoot at the organization. Just this month, Intersection premiered a new play by Oakland writer Chinaka Hodge and a large-scale interactive wood installation by Bernie Luebell. It's been known for showcasing jazz combos, experimental dance performances, and gallery works that might not find a home elsewhere, given the city's dwindling supply of small theaters and arthouses.

We'll update this post as we learn more.

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