Things You Learn as a Building Manager... by Roy Mackey

 

 

          You know being a building manager for six years you learn a lot of neat stuff about things and people. Some are good some are not so good and some are really strange. Being manager here at the ARC was a lot different compared to most buildings. Mostly I guess because of the fact that everyone living here are artists. That in itself is kind of strange. I often wondered if artists are just afraid of the real world or what. Dentist's don't huddle together all in the same building. Neither do building contractors. In fact I don't know another profession that does that. Some say they do it for inspiration but always found holes in that one. I don't think I ever met one serious artist that told me they could not do any more artwork because no one had given them any ideas or inspiration lately!! Every good artist I know has ideas coming out the yin yang! The last thing they need is some outside input. I did hear from the mothership that the government likes to keep artists all in once place so they can keep an eye on them. Maybe that's it but either way the ARC is different in a lot of ways. In other ways though it is just like any other building. After all people are people no matter what they do.

          Below are some of my observations collected here during my six years of managing. Most of what I have or will write here has been confirmed to me by other building managers also.    

 

 

For post on ARC Shop please scroll down.

 

 

 Everyone Hates Your Dog!

 

          As shocking as this seems it is true... This is one of the strangest things I learned as manager. I learned that in reality everyone hates your dog. There were a few reasons for this and the hatred often only related to a few things the dog did. I concluded that what dog owners think is cute is often disgusting for non dog owners. Things like jumping up on ones clean clothes, shedding hair against your new pants or dress,  slobbering all over everything, dog mines, crotch sniffing and barking are the most hated. I had tenants that would phone me yelling that something has to be done right away with this or that "dumb mutt" I would tell them no problem they just had to write me a formal complaint letter. Well right away they would back up quickly saying they couldn't do that since they did not want the dogs owner to find out it was them complaining. This made sense to me since as Canadians we are not allowed to complain or say anything about anyone or anything no matter how annoying.

          In one case I had almost everyone on one floor complain to me constantly about this particular dog. Most were really angry about it but none... not one would write a formal complaint letter. They just wanted to let me know how mad they were about the bloody mutt. Well after enough complaints I finally got after the dogs owner. I told them that I had been getting a lot of complaints about this dog and that they had to do something. Well the owners response was that I was lying and that everyone on their floor especially just loved her dog!! Needless to say I did not want to expose the owners delusion but the truth was the exact opposite. This type of thing happened more than once. At the time I started to take some notes and was very surprised to find that I got constant complaints about around 80% of the dogs living here at the time. (Back then there were quite a few dogs living here. When they first hired me they changed the pets rule and no longer allowed pets into the building. Anyone that had a pet including me was grandfathered in.)  

          It took me awhile to figure it out but realized that the whole problem was dog owners don't see things quite the same way. Sort of like the fact that dog owners never notice how much their dog stinks. Most people don't think dogs stink but thats just because they get used to the smell. I knew a guy at a auto detail shop and he told me the only thing harder to get clean and fresh than a smokers car is a dog owners car! In fact almost impossible. He used to work hours trying everything under the sun but no luck. Everyone had ideas but none really worked. His main customer was a car dealership and value of a dog owners car would plumet if they could not get the smell out or at least under control.

          I did notice the same thing here with cat smells in a studio. Again most cat people don't realize how much cats smell. Of course anyone having to clean after they moved would quickly find out. Again cat owners get used to the smell and never notice it. We had a bitch of a time here in a few units that had cats. I had new tenants say they would take the unit if we got rid of the cat smell. I used to think how hard could that be... : )

          Over the years I bounced this off of a few other building owners and they also confirmed the same. The end result of all my notes and all this was I realized I got serious complaints about almost all the dogs in the building... no one wanted to say anything formally...dog owners all thought everyone loved their dogs... the exact opposite was true. This did not mean that the complainer did not like the tenant. They just did not like the issues caused by the dog.  

          Another funny thing I noted was the fact that dog owners were often very quick to complain about other peoples invasion of their space through loud music or whatever. Yet they along with their dog were likely the biggest invaders of space ever.

          So next time someone says they love your dog there is an eighty percent chance they are lying... especially if they are Canadian!!

 

 

Guilt Always Led to Complaints

 

          This was another real strange thing that almost drove me crazy yet was extremely easy to predict. Tenants that felt guilty about some thing or the other in their life relating to the building would always be complaining to me about something.

     An example of this was the time I had one tenant who could never pay his rent. I used to shudder every month since I knew he was going to throw a check through my mail slot. First we would no longer take checks from him since they would bounce every time. Just the same he would do it as a stall tactic after months and months of me telling him we would not take his checks any more. What really drove me crazy the most was every time I got his check I knew he did not have the rent money. This also meant he was mad and when I approached him I would have to listen to his endless complaining about how incompetent the buildings owners were. Every little detail would be covered from the lack of security to overpriced rents. It was always exhausting but taught me some interesting stuff and thus I started to notice it in other cases. It seemed like by them complaining it was a way to help them deal with the guilt they were carrying. Knowing this made it easier for me to deal with their complaints since I knew what they were likely up to. 

     I found this similar when it came to the amenity rooms. I got most of my complaints about other users of the room from people who I knew were violating the rules of that room the most. It was another strange thing to observe. But once again told me that the complainer was just trying to deal with their own guilt. I doubt that this was ever done consciously but maybe in some cases the intent was conscious and the plan was to try and distract themselves or me from their violations. It never worked for me as I knew what was going on.

 

 

 

Most People Can't Read


     One thing I quickly learned as manager is that most people can't read. Actually they can if they really try but it is really hard. Plus with most peoples attention spans being similar to mine trying to focus on anything that is not amusing for longer than five or six seconds is almost impossible. Thus when managing the ARC I had to figure out ways to get people to actually read all the dry crap I had to post regarding tenants, building issues etc. This led to a lot of crazy postings. Unfortunately I did not save most of them but did find the few shown here below. I hope you enjoy them.  



flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey, landlord nightmares

     I always wondered why people did not mind knocking on my door twenty four hours a day. "I hate to bother you" ... [but not all that much as my problem is more serious than your life] ... " I know it is late but I just realized I am going to be out tomorrow and need my package picked up. Would mind if I gave them your number. They will be here at six thirty in the morning" ... [ no I don't mind at all being a butler is what I do here]



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

      Parking clean-up day was always painful for those that could not read. A lot of good junk got heaved and the next day crying was a given.... "Those tires were like brand new!!... why didn't someone tell me?... [ I riddled the building with postings and even sent you an email... the butler was too busy cleaning up his junk over there to stop by and tell you in person]



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     Another challenge was getting volunteers for the Eastside Cultural Craw, especially the building rep.



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     Yes everyone dream... basking in a little hero status... not this life but next life for sure.



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     Yes.... you should have volunteered!!!!



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     May as well blame the government and BC Ferries. They get blamed for everything else.



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     Life really is complicated for those that cannot read... I mean don't want to read. They pay a lot more .... taxes... so to speak. Drake was only one block away. Easy fast money for them.



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     One thing I noticed with a lot of artists is the fact that they all think their work is slightly better than genius. Every other artist besides them is selling out, producing crap, worthless drivel, etc etc. Of course since their work is obviously so great and way above the crowd then they often do not need to follow rules. After all who could possibly enforce rules on the worlds next Van Gogh, Picasso, or Michael Jackson. They need their space to create and commoners should not be interfering. Besides when they are famous, which in fact could be any day now they are going to come back to the ARC and throw a big party with free beer at their expense. Usually a few years of reality straightens them out but in the meantime they can be miserable to be around. In a cement building any tapping, pounding or hammer drilling is heard by everyone in the whole building equally. I always found that un-posted hammer drilling was always done by the... more confident of the crowd.


 

landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art

     Finding good "in-building" painters for all the month end painting was always hard. The pay was low and so were the hours. The hours though were intense as all vacated units needed to be painted at the same time and fast. It did give some artists though a little food money without leaving the building.



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     Music room ventilation was never enough it seemed. Five people in a small room with equipment etc made it hot. Thus the increased ventilation.



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     There is an old saying that if you fart in a small car full of people the smoker in the crowd will scream the loudest. I found that often as manager. The rule breakers were always the quickest to point out the other rule breakers. I often found it almost impossible to believe how often that happened. Anyway most people do not realize how wind currants can be around a building. Even on a calm night it can shock you. Thus the two fires caused by cigarettes being sucked into a lower window. These notices were fruitless since nothing changed and still people threw cigs out the window. My guess it was the same crowd who hammer drilled without putting up notices.


 

landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     The water system in the building makes this very strange sound. Just like someone dropping steel marbles on the floor right above everyone's unit. It drove me crazy trying to figure out who it was. Eventually a plumber told me the story. I told him no way and he assured me that the following week when they shut off the boiler the sound would end. Sure enough it did end.... until next fall when the boiler was fired up again. OK I was fooled but found it really hard trying to convince tenants that it was not the person above them and the pipes. They all pretty well said the same thing "Look I am not stupid... I know when someone is dropping something on the floor above me and this is definitely that..." Man I heard that line a lot. They eventually figured out they were wrong... just like I did.



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     It always amazed me how many people would park in the handicapped zones. Most never really think about it and thus we towed a pile out of there. I made sure I always took special effort to get them towed as fast as possible.



Landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

     Every building has it's nightmare tenant and we were no exception. He is the one that complains the loudest and yet was always last to pay his rent. He bounced so many checks we would no longer take checks from him and yet every month he could not pay the rent he would write another check. That told me he did not have the rent again. It also told me that I was going to have to slog through another one of his... "its everyone's fault but mine" story. Actually I found it fascinating watching him repeat the same story every time I handed him his almost monthly eviction notices. He was also the most common violator of the handicapped parking zone thus one day I wrote this posting up. Of course I knew in advance that it would have went completely over his head. That's the way it is with people like that. They have been telling their sad story for so long they start to actually believe it. Champagne was shared at head office and with most tenants the day they moved out.



landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

      No one likes to get towed but everyone loves a contest!! This caught their eyes and at least warned them. We had changed some parking spots next to the building over to paid and reserved spots. I knew in advance that people were going to get towed and that always hurts. Not that I cared but sure enough being manager I was the one who got stuck with putting the band-aid on their owie. I did not mind totally mind since once again I always found it fascinating but it did get tiring at times. Watching a starving artist who can't... I mean won't read get robbed of eighty dollars because of not reading was interesting. That is a lot of wine and cheese money.


 

landlord nightmares, flamingsteel.com, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

      Yes growing up sucks... but hey we all have to do it sometime. In fact I have even been considering it myself at some point... just not right now. Often as we do grow up we think we are a lot smarter than we are. We figure out these little things and proudly start doing them as if no one else has ever tried or thought of it. We usually end up looking like fools and should have maybe thought it out a little more. This person was sure they had found a replacement for their mother. Unfortunately we slack off someone else has to pick up that slack. In this case the cleaning guy.... Thus this notice.



The ARC Shop ... secrets from beyond the logic that may not make sense to some individuals

 

 This is a post relating to the uprising caused by rule changes in the ARC's wood metal shop. Kind of boring at the best of times and could only make sense if you lived here at the ARC and used the shop. Even then though it would likely be nothing more than a long winded and confusing spiel. Though I heard one user had actually read it and claimed it made total sense to them. Not sure how many other users managed to slog through it all. 

 

Note: this starts a little slow and gets more to the point as it goes along. It is also a lot of babble but should clarify the ARC shop for all ARC tenants interested. It also explains some exciting improvements that will eventually be coming to the shop benefitting a lot more tenants.   

 

     One the things that make the ARC different from a lot of buildings is all the amenity rooms in our basement. We don't have a pool but we do have a wood and metal shop which has almost every tool you could imagine and more coming all the time, a kiln room with two large kilns, a fully equipped dark room that is now set up for silkscreening, a large rehearsal room with a recently installed professional sprung wood dance floor, a fully equipped gym with new equipment coming any day and last but not least two music practice rooms for 24 hr music practice.

     When I took over as manager here all the rooms were in really rough condition. The wood shop was the worse. Most of the few tools they did have were broken, a couple had been stolen and one or two were working. There were three regular users whom had pretty well taken over the shop. They were all complaining about the sad shape of the tools and that the owners would never do anything. Of course I knew the opposite since I had learned some mind control tricks from the mothership and was already using them on the owner.

      My plan was to secure money… lots of money for improvements. I told these three users that if I was going to get money that they would need to keep the shop as clean as possible. They all just laughed. If you saw the shop then you would know why. I also told them the owner was coming by the next day and I wanted to make a good impression. Well the next day I went into the shop with the owner and there were the three users sitting there stoned out of their minds rolling a joint with empty beer bottles everywhere. Using my mind reading techniques it was obvious that we would be getting no money for sure. That was at least until I could come up with another plan.  I am now quite certain that move they did was planned so no new tools would come and thus attract more users to "their" shop.

     Well eventually about six months later the one fellow who had taken over the metal shop part moved out. Their strong hold was weakened so I seized the moment and started on a front to back clean up. In total we hauled about 14 full freight elevator loads out of there. Once it was completely cleaned out of all the junk we gave the floor a coat of shop grey. Needless to say painting the floor caused a real uproar with the users. They said it was a waste of time and that the paint money could have been used for tools. What they did not understand was there was no "paint money" I just snuck some floor paint in on one of the invoices for a studio we were painting. I also tagged on a few hours onto the painting of that studio and gave them to the painter for doing the shop floor. They also did not understand that the floor painting was planned to give the impression to the owner we took pride in the shop and appreciated it. This would be a major factor in getting him to loosen his purse strings. Then I crossed my fingers.

     After about three weeks of howling from the few shop users the owner stopped by. When we went into the shop his jaw hit the floor! I said we needed money for new tools and other improvements. He was so excited that he pulled his check book out and said I will sign you a check and you just fill in the amount you need! (not a concern for this owner of many buildings) I was floored at his generosity but told him to keep his check. I would talk to him later when I figured out a list of tools we needed immediately. After some brainstorming I figured out some tools that would be needed the most and also some that would make the biggest impression on the owner. This worked and he spotted us the first $5,000. Once the tools arrived the howling started up again. According to the small group of users every tool I bought excluding the table saw was a waste of money… mostly because it was not what they needed. It took hours of my work to plan which tools to buy, then write up the perfect photo report to give to the office and finally to meet the owner and down on one knee beg for the money. The end gratitude expressed was a shot to the groin from each of the users. I did not care though since they simply did not understand the rhyme to my reason. To even try to explain to them would have just taken too much time that would be better spent elsewhere. Especially since I was run completely off my feet trying to pull the ARC out of the dark ages let alone the shop.

     Basically the above performance repeated itself over and over the whole six years I managed here. In the end I tallied up that Reliance had dished out just over $40,000 for shop improvements during this six years. Added to that was all the shop dues that were collected and spent on improvements. The regular groin kicks from the users did hurt but did not bother me that much after all the shop was getting better and better benefitting more and more people all the time. I was also getting bigger balls!

     When I first took over here I learned that to use the shop you had to pay the fifteen dollars a month in dues and that the dues were to go back into shop maintenance. Eventually I tracked down what little book work there was. The guy who had it said the group dumped it onto him and that he never did anything with it since it was fruitless. I guess there were five years of collected dues but no one could remember ever seeing one shop improvement or repair that was not paid and done by a user themselves. At one point there was over eight hundred dollars in the account that seemed to have vanished. At that point I knew an exacting set of records for the dues had to be established. One false move with the dues and I could be burned at the stake… literally. (to those that think I am joking you never lived here as manager then! : ) Thus I designed up and implemented a system to manage the dues as easily and accurately as possible. My records for the six years were to the penny. Every dime taken in was matched to a receipt for an item bought. The dues management alone was almost like having a part time job.

     Aside from there being no previous records other than a few bank statements there was another reason he wanted nothing to do with it. Not one user would pay their fifteen dollar shop dues unless he hounded them steady. Thus when I started collecting dues I had the company install a coded door lock. At the end of each month I would go down and change the code. I told every shop user that unless they paid their dues they would not be given the code. Absolutely no exceptions so don't even ask. I also told them because I failed math ten and then dropped out of school that the dues were going to an even twenty. I could add that easier. Another batch of groin kicks but before long everyone seemed to adapt. After that everyone paid cheerfully or at least they seemed that way. This also gave more dues for all the desperately needed improvements.

     I ended up using those exacting set of books for the dues to secure even more money from the office/owner as time went on. When I showed those books to the head office they were astounded and looked at me weirdly as if to say I needed a life… Just the same they were impressed and at least $10,000 was secured based on those books alone.

     During my six years as manager I could not have counted all the people who were practically in tears when they heard use of the shop was only $20. month. I also had a pile of cash offers for some under the table access. I also lost count of people who offered me cash incentives under the table to get in here. Maybe if I would have finished high school I would have took them up on their offers...

 

     There was another important thing down there that I quickly learned. That was the fact I needed a set of guidelines to overview the direction of the shop. Kind of like a mission statement that would keep the shop going in the right direction. Something that was above and beyond my limited goals and ideas that would keep me on track and even more importantly any new manager that hopefully came along soon to relieve me from all the kicking. Thus after some thinking came up with the three below.

 

1.) Get the shop set up with as many tools as we could with the money and space we had.

2.) The next was to get the shop free from any Reliance funding as soon as possible operating off of shop dues only. (This would not happen if there were only 3 or 4 users….)

3.) Set the shop up to be useable and inviting to the largest group of ARC tenants as possible.

 

Goal number one was a real challenge for a few reasons. Mostly the limited money meant we often had to buy tools that we could afford and not ones we wanted. This is also why we may have had bad timing with some tool purchases. We had to grab them on sale when we got the chance. Had there been more money right off we could have started with top of the line tools and only had to buy them once. For example we started off with a small mickey mouse planer and eventually worked our way up to a top of the line General. This was also a real challenge since there were times I knew that we had to buy certain tools that were more impressive than practical in order to impress the office/owner. Again more groin kicks there but what the groin kickers did not see is the fact that when the office/owner was impressed it made getting more money a hell of a lot easier. Which was always the case.

 

     Goal number two was to show the owners that the shop was not going to be an ongoing financial bleed. I was actively seeking to reach that end with more enthusiasm than most would think. There was a reason for this I won't get into here but related to getting the roof top deck. Anyway goal two has pretty well been reached this last four years. No money had been received from them that had not been paid back during this time. A big thumbs up to Richard there. Just the same we were slated for another five thousand for some exciting planned improvements. Kind of one last kick at Reliance funding. Unfortunately the recent shop rule change protest by the shop user group got that funding cancelled. Though this reason will never be stated publicly anyone familiar with how life works knows this is the case. Groin kick the gift horse and usually the gift horse leaves. Now Richard and I are back to brainstorming and working with minimal dues again. Of course our dreams of that new Miller tig welder, jd squared tubing bender, metal lathe, shaper and rock saw have been quashed for now. Though we will still get them eventually... All in good time.

 

     Goal number three has been the most confusing to shop users. It is also what makes the shop little weird compared to most other shops. Though they may look the same they are two totally different shops. If we were designing the shop for a small handful of users we would install storage lockers for those users, more storage space for large unfinished projects, would allow leaving unfinished projects and supplies in the shop, we would still be buying consumables for the metalworkers etc etc. This though is not the case. The ARC shop has been designed so that It could eventually benefit the largest group of ARC tenants as possible, not "the shop users group" but "ARC tenants". This was actually one of my main arguments for getting more "shop" money from head office in the first place. I needed to convince them that if they spent a pile on the shop it would attract more potential tenants thus assuring full occupancy. This is why the ARC shop was intended to be there for the largest group of tenants possible. Though a lot of tenants may not know it, head office tolerated at least five years of my whining and long winded spiels and at least two or three years of the same from Richard for a $12,000 sprung wood dance floor that was going to benefit over half if not more of the building's tenants.  Yet shop users expected the owner/office would easily spend $40,000 for improvements to the building that is only going to benefit ten or less users? Sure the office/owner should… but then so should the government pull the taxes off beer and smokes. Not many waiting for that one I would bet.

      When Richard and I do our endless shop brainstorming we always go back to these mission statements. The trouble is when you are building a shop to benefit the widest group of ARC tenants possible it usually inconveniences the regular user. Mostly because just when you are trying to get your project done along comes some "dweeb" un-educated in shop tools to cut a pipe in half with the table saw or some similar fiasco. Sure this drives the regular users crazy since often their life is depending on those tools. Unfortunately though this more what this shop is about. It gives people a chance to go down there and experiment with very expensive tools before they rush out and buy their own. If you really are serious about your art form you eventually buy your own tools anyway. (Is this dangerous having untrained people use the shop? Of course it is! That's partly why everyone has to sign a waiver to use it. You can drive a car without a licence or training also if you want. It is a choice you have to make on your own and of course live with the concequences. Reliance can't police every user down there. If they did everyone would have to have certification from some technical school to get access). I recently learned that Shelley has been doing something similar with the kiln room. She is trying to make it easily available to those who maybe don't want to spend twenty years studying pottery just to incorporate it into their present art form.

 

     One common complaint I have received over the years is that, since Richard or I almost never used the shop that we don't have a clue what goes on down there. This was always a laugh to me since we may not use it but we literally live down there mentally. (On top of that we hear all the annonymous complaining that goes on which is another long story... see the, sad but true, everyone hates your dog below.) In fact by going over my journals I keep I was able to pretty accurately guesstimate. Over the last four years alone Richard and I have spent over 1000 half hour phone conversations about the shop. This is not counting all our time spent running to kms tools or lee valley brainstorming other tools and ideas onsite etc. The whole time, all our brainstorming was in relation to making the shop more usable and appealing to as many ARC tenants as possible… going back to mission statement 3. For example we have been planning some rock cutting equipment for a long time and now have one that needs some work. I am guessing not one present user is longing for a rock saw but some other tenants might want to cut a rock in half for some other work they are doing. If so they won't have to cough out for a very expensive saw as it will be down there. We have also have plans for a heavy duty leather sewing maching that might happen sooner than later. Like the welder it would be signed out for up to three days at a time. Not to mention a raft of other tools.

 

   All this boils down to the fact that the more ARC tenants that are using the shop the easier it will be to get more funding if we needed it. If the useage dries up so does the odds of more funding. Which makes sense. I had one tenant painter tell me once that he pays the same rent here as a shop worker but gets no benefits from the thousands of dollars being spent on the shop. At that time there were more painters here than shop users. He had a point. My therapist along with my mother both say spending so much time on this is totally dis-functional on my part. They are probably right but given limited money and shop space, tricky shop users and a mutual obsession to make the shop work for the largest group of tenants it seems to take this much time.

 

     One other quirk about the shop that most users don't see relates to the post below on dogs. Canadians don't like to speak up much on the whole. Sure there are loud speakers in every country. They stand up, rant, rave and often using guilt, gather up a group of followers to support their cause. Though even when in disagreement the "non speakers"  will often just go along with them. Mostly because it is easier to come up with another option than it is to get involved with politics or public speaking to change things. On a regular basis during my six years I would have someone move to the building and be super keen about the shop. They would use one or two months then quit. I would confront them and the common response was something like. "well I used it a bit but heck I am just doing some artwork and other users in there are trying to pay their rent. I kind of hate to interfere since they are such nice people". Shortly after I took over as manager here one new user told me another common story. He said when ever he went to the shop this one user would give him such dirty look he felt like he was not only un-welcome but un-safe also. He was not interested in dealing with someone's psychosis so thus backed away from the shop. True Canadians don't like to inconvenience anyone. Hell I have always been the same. Back when I managed if I went down there to use it and someone had it tied up I would just leave and think of something else to do. Then later sneak down there at 2am,  and I was the manager!

 

     Over the years I had a lot of users complain about the dictator like rules in regards to the running of the shop. Even though their complaining made a lot of sense there is a good reason for it being this way. The reason was tied in specifically to rule 3. It was realized that the ARC shop needed to be designed in a way that would attract the widest group of ARC tenants possible. This had to be done in order to justify Reliance funding it. After all Reliance is not everyone's rich uncle. If they were I would have got that "manager's only" roof top hot tub I always wanted. It was NOT designed to give a small elite handful of shop users a fully equipped custom shop for almost free.

     This was kind of confusing for regular users after all they are the ones that use the shop so we should be catering to their whims and wishes. They just forgot or did not realize that the source of funding needed justification or good reasons for the money in the first place. Reliance can't be rushing out every time a tenant or two wants an expensive improvement.

(As an added note I was always amazed at how generous Reliance really was with this building... never saw that before in my life. In fact I did a building tour for a group of German ministers once. When we finally got down to the common room they were all babbling away like no tomorrow. I asked the interpeter what they were so excited about. She told me they could not believe our government would provide so much for the artists here!! When I told her it was not the government but a privately owned company you should have heard them then!! She said they were all calling me a liar!!!!)

     Thus decisions in regards to the shop had to be made from a totally unbiased perspective. Someone was needed who almost never uses the shop, is willing to spend endless hours for free researching out options, going to tool places, comparing deals, keeping books, willing to set up a shop bank account in their name risking hassles with taxation, did not have a life, was not too smart, could handle verbal abuse, and could take a kick to the groin and keep grinning etc. After a few quick moments they realized that building managers fit the bill perfectly so I was given the job.

     This explains in part why shop planning does not always fit the whims and wishes of the users. The shop needs to be used by more tenants to justify all the spending. Now this really sucks for the regular users since it is like having access to a Dodge Viper but having to share it. Sure the less people using the shop the better it is for the regular shop users. In fact it is even better for the shop managers also since more users mean more funding which all boils down to more voluntary upaid work. The upside though is the fact that with more users means more dues and funding along more cool new tools and improvements. (just to note there are two there are two types of shop funding received from Reliance but I won't get into that here, thats another long winded complicated story. We just need to get free from the first form funding)

 

     One thing that could have been made clearer is all the details and quirks about the ARC Shop. But then again a free Cadillac is often like that. There is always glitches. In this case even the glitches were not that bad considering the shop has been improving radically and non-stop over the last ten years which was a huge reversal to the way it went during the first five years under previous management.  Of course the shop is never even near up to par but verses the price of the dues it is an absolutely outstanding bargain. Just the same more clarity might have saved all those users who thought that someone had a grudge against them or were  out to get them. It would have also saved all the finger pointing that happened. As if a couple of users supposedly excessive abuse was the cause of the rules changing. It had nothing at all to do with any of the above it was just more refinement of the shop in alignment with rule 3 for the benefit of all ARC tenants.  

 

     In regards to the cut only rule, I do agree, it really does suck. Just the same there are some advantages. The main one being is the shop right now is pretty well maxed out tool wise considering the space we have. But now with no more space needed for fabrication it gives us a lot more room for tools and improvements like the high dust area, metal lathe, tubing bender, rock saw, rock tumbler, sheet metal shear and brake, large belt sander, tig welder, leather sewing machine, shaper, upright metal band saw etc etc. These are all expensive tools that would be sweet for those needing them and low on cash. The price we pay is losing the fabrication space, which I think is a fair trade off since space can be found in our studios but expensive tools don't show up as easily. Plus it gets the shop back to benifitting a wider range of ARC tenants.

     The main reason the cut only rule sucks is that forces you to set up in your studio in order to finish your work. I know this from experience in three different studios. It takes a lot of time, effort, upaid IOU's and visa bills to get set up. If you are serious about your work then it is something you get committed to. The ARC after all is not a hobby house for people who don't watch tv and need something to do in their spare time. Each one of my studios was half taken up by tools, supplies and other toxic crap in fact even more so in this one. Strangely though I did practically as much work in the smallest unit than I did in this largest one with twice the tools. One tenant here, who used to build free form medite furniture, had a table saw etc set up in unit 711 with dust system and everything!! I am sure he likely ate a lot of medite dust just like we eat a pile of metal dust in here.

    

      This though is the spirit of the ARC! Is it healthy? No. Why are we here then? Because it is cheaper than renting a place to live and then a studio on top of it. The zoning allows us to do what we want in our studios without hassle from the city's zoning thugs. We can deduct 70% of our rent at tax time. The building is extremely fire proof. Plus is a great community of artists unlike almost all other buildings. Just the same I used to say this in my tours. "Nobody in their right mind wants to move to the ARC. They NEED to move here. When they do, they work their art form, get famous, then get rich and then buy that ocean view home and make room here for some other blind optimist" I used to also say that if you moved here and got bored of your artwork, quit it and then hired on at Walmart that you should do the honorable thing and move out. Thus making room for someone else who "needs" what these spaces here at the ARC have to offer.

 

    What this all means is it sucks working in your studio and eating dirt but that was exactly why this building was built. Yes it's a "Free Cadillac" and there are some chips in the paint but still a hell of a deal in comparison to what else is out there at least right now. I know for sure as we have been looking steady. We really need a Rememberance day for those patient souls who fought city to get these type of buildings allowed. If you know any one of those who were involved back then you may want to hear some of the stories. A lot are hard to believe! Living in a rat infested, fire trap warehouse is not the dream fantasy that some people like to think.

 

     Even though all the above is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the ARC shop I hope this clarifies some things to anyone frustrated by all the recent rule changes. A big thumbs up to anyone of you who actually read through all this babble to the end. The ARC needs more tenants like you. Hopefully you can see how hard this would have been to explain in detail to everyone.... and there is lots more!!!!!

 

Sept/6/2010