Academy of Art University Offers Local Theatre $125K In Relocation Assistance

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Today, San Francisco 's Academy of Art University presented a comprehensive assistance and relocation package totaling up to $125,000 to the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre.

We believe the package is fair, provides the financial support the Theatre needs, and ensures the integrity of Theatre's cultural contributions to the City

Today, San Francisco 's Academy of Art University presented a comprehensive assistance and relocation package totaling up to $125,000 to the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. AAU offered the package to address concerns raised by the Theatre, whose lease expires tomorrow. AAU currently enjoys an option to acquire the historic 1917 Sutter Street building, which houses the Theatre.

"We are strong advocates for the Arts and are committed to assisting the Theatre with identifying an appropriate new home and providing financial assistance," said AAU President Dr. Elisa Stephens. "We felt an obligation to help make the Theatre's transition as smooth and seamless as possible by offering a package that includes upwards of $125,000 in financial support."

In 2005, AAU signed a deal with the current owners of the Sutter Street building to purchase the historic space. In that same year, the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre gave up future lease renewal options in exchange for free rent up until July 31, 2007.

In support of AAU, local community and housing advocates Reverend Arnold Townsend and Tracy and Kelly Dearman are issuing a letter to the community detailing the proposal. "As community activists who appreciate the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, we wholeheartedly support this proposal and urge the Theatre to accept its generous terms," reads a portion of the letter.

The proposed package includes:

o    A lease extension with below market rent through January 2008, in order to allow the Theatre to complete its holiday season and to locate to a new space.

o    Reimbursement of all rents paid (up to $50,000) once the Theatre vacates the space by early January 2008.

o    Up to $25,000 for the Theatre's relocation expenses;

o    Up to $50,000 for the cost of building out its new theater space;

In addition, AAU developed a comprehensive list of available theater spaces in San Francisco, of which many were toured by the Theatre. The list includes: the Kensington Park Hotel (Elks Club Theatre), 450 Post St; Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary St.; Ruby Skye, 420 Mason St.; 1133 Mission St.; Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St; Hotel Fusion 140 Ellis St.; Press Club at Powell and Sutter across from Sir Francis Drake; The Regency Center, 1290 Sutter St.; Regency II, 1268 Sutter St.; the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St.; the Artaud Theatre, 450 Florida St.; Yerba Buena Center Theater; the Zeum Theatre at 221 4th St.; and the Bindlestiff Theater.

"It's important to the Academy of Art University, Tracy, Kelly and myself that the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre receive the support and assistance it needs for its inevitable move," said the Reverend Townsend. "We believe the package is fair, provides the financial support the Theatre needs, and ensures the integrity of Theatre's cultural contributions to the City," he said.

With nearly 10,000 students, Academy of Art University is the nation's largest private art and design university. Established in 1929, the school offers accredited AA, BFA, M.Arch and MFA programs, as well as continuing art education with classes in copywriting, fashion design, interior design, new media, computer animation, sculpture, graphic design, cinematography, digital photography and car design. Students can also enroll in a flexible online degree program in art and design.

The Academy is nationally accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), ACICS, NASAD, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (Formerly FIDER) (BFA-IAD), and NAAB (M-ARCH). For more information visit http://www.academyart.edu or call 1-800-544-2787.

The Reverend Arnold Townsend has been a community and government relations advocate and consultant since 1980. Currently with the Rhema Word Church, Chair of the Western Addition Advisory Committee and San Francisco Elections Commission member, Townsend consults on the political, economic and development issues in low-income minority communities as well as the general community in the San Francisco Bay area.

Tracy Dearman has been the president of HSM since 1996, a company founded 55 years ago by her grandmother, Bertha Flemming. Observing the urgent need for a resource in the expanding African American community, Tracy continued her Grandmother's vision of assisting deserving, hardworking families who want to reside in the bay area by making available the tools and direction to attain the title of homeowner. Kelly Dearman has been a lawyer and broker in San Francisco for over 10 years. Due to her entrepreneurial spirit and tenacity, she has dedicated herself to helping people of all communities, to fulfill their goal of homeownership in the often daunting maze of the San Francisco bay area housing market.

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