COULD STREETWIRES BE LEFT OUT ON THE STREETS?
We hope not…
Big development, broken promises and agreements that have fallen through leaves our job-creation social enterprise with nowhere to go, currently.
Not so long ago, we wrote in our blog about the possibility of moving due to a development in the area. At the time, it seemed that everything was in order for a smooth transition, and that we were in the good hands of our landlady who had our best interests at heart: http://streetwires.co.za/we-might-be-moving/
After turning down an earlier offer from a neighbour to take over their building rent free for as long as we needed on the promises from our landlady that she would provide us with suitable space across the road, we have been let down very badly.
Established in 2000, Streetwires employs over 40 previously unskilled and unemployed artists who produce the finest wire and bead craft and art pieces for the local and export market. After over a decade, we have established ourselves as the only working artists studio in the city. One of our key revenue streams currently are the guided tours we offer to tour groups, where they can meet the artists, learn about the craft, and support our artists by purchasing gifts and souvenirs in our gallery store on the same premises. With the downscaling of certain design exhibitions in the city, our gallery and studio also serves as a showroom and meeting place for our local and export clients. We have become a designated itinerary stop for all the walking tours of the city, as well as shore tours for all the cruise liners that dock in Cape Town.
Going on the promises of our landlady, Cecily Blumberg, and feeling a mutual loyalty that made us decline the offer of the rent-free spot next door initially, we were positive for our move across the road as mentioned in our blog.
Unfortunately, this is now not to be. Speedy, the current tenant occupying the space we were promised (also owned by our landlady Ms Blumberg) has refused to move out, or even share the space with us, as we were previously led to believe would happen. This coupled with the recent decision to either sell the building we currently occupy, or renovate it and increase the rent to more than double what it is now once the development is complete, means that instead of our social enterprise having a place to continue operating, a tyre storage facility will be lucky enough to have business as usual – and continue to occupy prime city space while we struggle to find a new home for our business. While the original offer and the final outcome has dragged on for so long, we have lost precious time in securing a suitable alternative…
With the few available options of space which we have seen not being viable for us, we now face the strong possibility of losing over a decade worth of business relationships while we try and find a space we can afford, possibly far outside the city now – meaning a major reshuffle of our business and sales strategy, as it is highly probable that we will no longer be able to have our office, studio, showroom, welding workshop and a store trading all under one roof. The bigger impact of this also ultimately impacts our artists, who this business is built around. A move may not only mean no shop for them to sell their pieces, and the loss of our tour revenue – but could also mean a cut in our sales, and their (piece-meal) earning, along with potentially higher transport costs if we cannot find an affordable solution near a major transport hub.
We are therefore appealing to all readers to come forward and try and assist us in finding a space that suits the needs of our organisation in it’s current form. We’d really appreciate as many eyes and ears on the ground as we can get.
It simply has to work out. It can’t not.
Please contact Riaan Hanekom for further details – 021 426 2475 / firstname.lastname@example.org