Following Oakland fire, artists detail nationwide crackdown on warehouse spaces

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  • Spaces in Denver and Baltimore have been shut down, while authorities in New York have warned venues.
  • Following Oakland fire, artists detail nationwide crackdown on warehouse spaces image
  • Less than a week after The Ghost Ship fire that killed 36 at a 100% Silk event, there is evidence that various city governments are cracking down on similar spaces. An article published in yesterday's New York Times spoke with several individuals who have experienced direct effects of a crackdown, including Forest Juziuk, a booking agent who contributed to the most recent edition of RA's The Hour podcast. Juziuk told the Times, "By Tuesday night I started seeing text messages from around the US about fire marshals coming through and eviction notices being served." The piece also reports on the recent shut down of the Bell Foundry arts complex in Baltimore. The Times quotes a DJ, event promoter and artist named Qué Pequeño, who says "I woke up Monday morning to my roommates telling me that the fire marshal was here… they deemed our place unsafe and that it was not up to code." Meanwhile, in Denver, Rhinoceropolis, a DIY venue that was instrumental in the early careers of artists like Pictureplane, has been cleared out by the city's fire department. Westword shared a photo of a notice posted on the venue and living space saying "Unsafe building. No one shall occupy this space (sleep in) until the building is deemed safe." In New York City, the Bossa Nova Civic Club, an integral bar and nightclub for the Brooklyn and Queens dance music scenes, received a visit from the FDNY. John Barclay, the bar's owner, spoke with RA. "We were visited by a FDNY lieutenant who inspected our establishment and told us that they will be monitoring our capacity," says Barclay. "He was very clear that this was in response to Oakland. He said they had a list of venues and expected (presumably MARCH) task force involvement in the coming weeks." MARCH (Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots) is an interdepartmental task force that previously presided over a shut down of Brooklyn DIY spots like Silent Barn and Market Hotel. Back in Oakland, the East Bay Express revealed that Ghost Ship warehouse was not even in the fire department's database, with firefighters saying the building inspection program is "is dangerously understaffed and disorganized." Earlier this week, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced a $1.7 million grant "grant intended to create affordable spaces for artists and arts organizations." The New York Times also quotes a Bay Area artist named Aaron Muszalski in its article. "People will always seek what spaces like Ghost Ship offer," Muszalski says. "What we need are solutions that don’t seek to eradicate these spaces, but which allow them to come safely into the light and support them economically in becoming safer and more accountable—something that is impossible so long as we pretend they don’t exist.” Earlier today, we published an opinion piece from RA's North American editor Andrew Ryce, "We need underground events more than ever." Check that out here.