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Speakeasy Arts Cooperative owes $600 for utility deposit – and might close down temporarily

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on June 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
June 29, 2010 5:45 pm

The Speakeasy Arts Cooperative, a 16-member artist-run collective in downtown Tacoma, has announced that it is lacking $500 to pay a $600 utility deposit. If it can’t pay, it will have its power turned off tomorrow.

The deposit was required as a result of a six-month trial period after the Speakeasy’s November opening, in which Tacoma Public Utilities assesses commercial properties for their risk of bill default. Since the Speakeasy had paid several late bills, its risk was high and a $900 deposit required. Speakeasy founder Angela Jossy says she got the deposit notice in the mail a month ago and handed it to her treasurer, who let it slip by. The next step was a notice on the door a week ago.

Since then, Jossy has been trying to raise the deposit, setting up a Paypal donation site and holding a fundraising party Saturday night. She’s still $500 short.

“That’s the problem with working with 16 different people,” says Jossy, of the Speakeasy’s cooperative structure, which requires monthly membership dues and administrative duties in return for artist space in the venue at 746 Broadway. “You try to delegate so you don’t do everything yourself, but some things fall down.”

The deposit shortage isn’t something that Speakeasy members can pony up for, says Jossy. “A lot of them are struggling to pay their own bills, even. It’s tough.” She’s had an offer for a loan on the money, but is reluctant to go into debt. And if the power is turned off, reconnection fees will be costly. All the members are holding a meeting tonight to decide what to do.

“The worst case scenario is that we borrow the money, or close down temporarily and use other spaces to raise the money to keep going,” Jossy says.

More information about the Speakeasy, including how to donate, can be found at www.speakeasyartscooperative.com/rent.htm

Update June 29: Angela Jossy today confirmed she would be accepting a loan for the deposit money so that the Speakeasy could stay open. “We’ll do some fundraisers to start paying it back throughout the summer,” said Jossy on her Facebook page.

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