Breakfast with Enzo is a weekly show of children’s music and storytelling created and performed by Enzo Garcia. Held at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center for the last 11 years, Breakfast with Enzo was much-loved by local children… and their parents.
Last week, however, Breakast at Enzo’s long run at BHNC came to an end. In a note to his mailing list, Enzo Garcia alleges that the closure stemmed from a significant increase in the rental fees BHNC charges to use the space:
This year a new housing director was hired by BHNC. The housing director is my contact for the rental of BHNC’s dining room. In February I received notice from the housing director that the rent I pay to use the space would go up 50%. Since I had never been subject to a rent increase in my tenure at BHNC, I made no waves and agreed to pay the increased rent and continue to use the dining room.
On December 2nd, I received an email from the housing director that my rent would increase an additional 66%, up from the 50% increase beginning January, 2014. I can not sustain the increase without passing the cost along to you, the patrons of the show. I am terribly concerned that attendance will be negatively affected.
Breakfast with Enzo is a live music performance for families in the San Francisco bay area. Although I consider the show to be a performance it is routinely referred to as a class by parents who attend. Most organizations offering music classes for infants and toddlers here in the bay area require pre-registration, cost over $20 per class and are taught by underpaid teachers (I speak from experience). At $6 per person and no pre-registration, Breakfast with Enzo is a more affordable service for the community.
Having been at the BHNC for many years now I have seen personnel there come and go. Breakfast with Enzo has remained. I would like to continue serving families with live music at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.
In a note to Bernalwood, Neighbor Christina vented:
A weekly tradition, Breakfast with Enzo has been an incredible resource to the neighborhood, not just because young kids are getting a social outlet and musical education at the incredibly reasonable rate of $6 for 2 hours of super, jump-around, mind-enriching, fun. But Bernal businesses are benefitting by having families from other neighborhoods come in to see Enzo, and then spend the afternoon having lunch, going to the library, and shopping in Bernal.
The BHNC is a City subsided space, which is supposed to be supporting the surrounding community. Their main focus is at-risk teens, and low-income elderly, so apparently they don’t value what has been happening there on Saturday mornings for the last 11 years. Egos, miscommunication, and who knows what is at work here, resulting in Bernal kids are no longer getting to have their music time. And guess who’s moving into Enzo time slot — no one. They’re booting Enzo out for no one.
It’s really sad.
Bernalwood reached out to BHNC to get their perspective on the closure of Breakfast with Enzo. BHNC housing director Amy Beinart writes:
Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center is a neighborhood-based nonprofit organization that provides services for low-income seniors and youth, organizes members of the community to advocate for their needs, and develops and operates affordable housing for low income people. We support this work through extremely constrained funding sources, including fee-for-service contracts, foundation grants that are restricted for use to serve our programs, and membership and donations. We stretch these dollars as far as we can to support the programs that address our core mission. We are able to supplement our budget in a very small way by renting our space for community uses and private events. This is one of very few options we have to secure the money we need for upkeep and repairs to sustain this valuable community resource.
Many evenings and mornings, the downstairs multipurpose space and the upstairs conference room are used by 12-step recovery groups. Periodically, private individuals reserve the space for birthday parties and baby showers. Additionally, we have been happy to have Enzo rent the room on Saturday mornings.
As Enzo has described to you, for many years the rent rate was flat; he paid $30 per Saturday, or $10 per hour. Last year, he agreed to an increase to $45 per Saturday morning, or $15 per hour. This year, in considering our budget for the year ahead, our ever-increasing overhead costs, and need for repairs to the building, we recognized that we had to look carefully at all possible sources of income to support BHNC. Earlier this month, I sent Enzo an email proposing a new rate of $75 per Saturday, $25 per hour. The proposed rate is lower than our standard private event/business rate; and well below the $70 per hour charged by SF Rec and Park to rent the center behind the library.
In my email, I asked him to contact me to discuss if he had concerns about the amount. He emailed me back that this rate would be too high, and I responded that it was not our intent to price him out and invited him to suggest an increase that he could support. It is clear, however, that we cannot keep rates for private events flat while our expenses continue to rise. While we agree that Breakfast with Enzo is a fun event, it is not a program of BHNC, and we are not able to raise funds to subsidize his use of the space.
This is an evolving situation. We’ve been in conversation with Enzo about a workable compromise, and continue to be open to finding a solution.
Bernalwood hopes that a way will be found to keep Breakfast with Enzo on Cortland, and we will update this story accordingly.
PHOTO: via Yelp