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The Cultural Mafia | San Francisco Magazine

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Laurie Lazer and Darryl SmithCOFOUNDERS OF THE LUGGAGE STORE GALLERYThey’re pioneers in the mid-Market revival, with projects like the Tenderloin National Forest; the transformation of derelict Cohen Alley into a green space framed by murals and populated with performances; and Trailhead, an espresso bar, jeansmanufacturing workshop, and indoor green space tucked into one corner of the Renoir Hotel.

Joshua Simon and Leiasa BeckhamDIRECTOR OF REAL ESTATE CONSULTING AND REAL ESTATE CONSULTANT AT NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY LOAN FUND"We love white elephants," says Simon, referring to the unconventional spaces—some of which don’t even show up in a traditional real estate search—that he and Beckham have come up with for many mid-Market arts groups, including Trailhead, SF Camerawork, the S.F. Film Collective, and many more.

Ellen RichardEXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATERRichard is the one who snagged the old Strand Theatre, on Market Street, to fulfill Carey Perloff’s dream of a place to showcase the work of A.C.T.’s MFA students. She also started the Costume Shop, which currently plays host to a rotating lineup of performances by small innovative theaters such as Campo Santo, Magic Theatre, and S.F. Recovery Theatre.

Shelley TrottSENIOR PROGRAM OFFICER FOR ARTS AT KENNETH RAININ FOUNDATIONIn the foundation’s mere four years of existence, Trott has awarded nearly $700,000 to more than 20 arts-related programs in mid-Market. Currently, she is trying to come up with ways to help arts organizations deal with the area’s sharply rising rents.

Deborah CullinanEXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF INTERSECTION FOR THE ARTSFrom Intersection’s new home inside the Chronicle building, Cullinan has forged an alliance with the5M Project—the development effort dedicated to transforming the four-acre space between Fifth, Mission, and Howard streets—and has already begun rolling out programming.

Amy Cohen and Ellyn ParkerDIRECTOR OF NEIGHBORHOOD ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND PROJECT MANAGER IN THEOFFICE OF ECONOMIC AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENTNo one in city government has been more instrumental than Cohen in keeping the Central Market Partnership (the official name for the public-private initiative to revitalize the area) on track. And Parker is her right-hand woman where the arts are concerned: She spends most of her time facilitating projects like 24 Days of Central Market Arts and other guerrilla arts activities in and around U.N. Plaza.

Elvin Padilla Jr.EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TENDERLOIN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTAs powerful a community organizer as you’re likely to find, Padilla is an important line of communication between city hall and the people, businesses, and organizations in the area that are otherwise "kind of invisible," he says. His ability to forge partnerships has brought key players like the Kenneth Rainin and San Francisco foundations into the mix.

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