The Spare Room Project
Run by Gregory Bartlett, Erin McElroy, and Lauren Anderson
San Francisco, California
Erin and I started the SRP in October 2007, when we just weren't feeling a lot of community in our art community. We live in something of a collective house with 2 other artists and our "living room" has moved through a few different locations in the house, none of which were especially useful, so that became the "Spare Room". Greg moved out here from Boston and joined us in July 2008. Our decisions are always collaborative, both between the three of us and with the artist/curators we work with. In general, we almost never curate the shows ourselves, usually we have an artist that curates the show, sometimes including themselves. This makes for a really diverse range of projects, collaborations, and groupings of work because each month is based on a different artist(s) perspective, aesthetic, and interests.
We do put out press every month for our openings, and have an email list people can sign up for to be updated about our events, but word of mouth by artists and people who come to our shows is definitely our best way of building community/audience. Our openings are really homey and casual, so they make a space for chatting and hanging out (albeit sometimes tight quarters!), we've been consistently amazed and grateful at how friendly everyone is and how easily people seem to strike up conversations with one another. And since a different artist curates each show, they usually have a different network of folks that come to their opening, so word seems to spread that way as well.
And last but not least, the funding question. Currently we're funded by a grant from Southern Exposure's Alternative Exposure program, which is a brilliant grant program by a brilliant organization that is really in touch with art and artists and community and youth and all kinds of good stuff. It's the only grant program I know of that is geared specifically towards funding alternative spaces and projects that are underground and not registered non-profits or businesses. That grant will run out at the end of this year and we are currently deliberating ways to come up with funds for next year. We also definitely support it ourselves, we pay rent and we all do the work as volunteers.