All Your Favorite Arts Organizations Are Turning 50 This Year

Friday, January 26, 2024

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What was in the water in 1974? That’s the question you might ask when a surprising number of Bay Area arts organizations celebrate their 50th anniversary this year: Creative Growth, Kala, SF Camerawork, Small Press Traffic, Southern Exposure — the list goes on.

In anticipation of the anniversary, Syd Staiti, executive director of Small Press Traffic (SPT), began talking to people present at the beginning, when it was a Noe Valley bookstore and poetry hub. The short answer, Staiti relates, is that “word got around that it was really cheap to live in San Francisco.”

“People came here or already lived here, young people with lots of energy and ideas and ideals who wanted to start things,” Staiti says. Aided by cheap rent, people would “work like a day a week — literally — and then spend the rest of their time making things happen.”

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Sarah Hotchkiss