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Artist Lita Albuquerque works on a blue orb from her Stellar Axis Antarctica Project at her unit four studio space at the 18th Street Art Center on Thursday afternoon. Due to existing structural damage on several of the studios from over the years, the Art Center has been collecting much-needed donations in order to fix the buildings (photo by Brandon Wise)

MIDCITY — Hit hard by unanticipated facility repairs, the 18th Street Art Center is asking the public for emergency donations to help close its $10,000 budget gap by June 30.

After fixing problems with electrical wiring, roof damange, and wood rot, the center has been left with a doubling of its $35,000 annual maintenance budget.

“As every homeowner knows,” Executive Director Jan Williamson said, “unexpected repairs are inevitable.”

Thanks to the speedy response of a few close supporters and tough decisions to cut spending in other areas, the center has managed to narrow a majority of its current budget gap. With only $10,000 left to go, the center is asking the public for recommended donations of $100, though any amount will be accepted.

Contributors will be thanked in the center’s 2010 annual catalog and will also receive a copy. Receipts will be provided for all donations and the full amount of the gift is tax-deductible, as the center is a nonprofit organization under California law.

Founded in 1988, the 18th Street Art Center has been one of the leading urban artist residency centers in the United States, focusing on providing support for resident artists and promoting “public dialogue through contemporary art making.”

Among the center’s several big-name supporters are the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Santa Monica City Cultural Affairs Division and the Getty Grant Program.

The center houses resident artists of all ages from both the U.S. and abroad and prides itself on being an “intergenerational, intercultural, multidisciplinary beehive” that is home to numerous exhibitions, performances, and a neighborhood festival.

The art center also concentrates its efforts on encouraging the careers of emerging and under-represented mid-career artists.

Approximately 54 percent of the center’s annual income is collected through event fees, donations, and both private and government grants. The other 46 percent is acquired from resident artists’ living costs — such as parking, rent, laundry — demonstrating a delicate balance in the center’s yearly budget that has been upset by the sudden deficit.

“Fundraising for our operating costs for our buildings is always a challenge — for all nonprofits, not just 18th Street,” said Williamson. “It is a natural desire for donors to want their gifts to support programs that have a human impact; at the same time, nonprofits, like everyone else, have to pay the utilities and keep their buildings sound.”

Williamson concluded, “Without our buildings, we could not provide the programs that we do to artists.”

The June 30 deadline marks the close of the center’s fiscal year, and if enough donations are received, it can finish the year in the black. Otherwise, Williamson says that the center will carry a small deficit into the next fiscal year which may lead to other spending cuts.

To make a donation or to learn more about 18th Street Art Center, visit 18thstreet.org

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