Last month, the all-ages punk venue 924 Gilman announced that it’s in danger of closing because its landlord is raising its rent by nearly $3,000 a month starting July 1. The rent increase came about after the building’s landlord decided to sell the property, but couldn’t find any buyer, according to a letter sent to the Express by Karen O’Brien, executive director of Alternative Music Foundation, aka 924 Gilman Street. In response, the all-volunteer-run alcohol-free venue decided to seek nonprofit status, and in the process has updated its bylaws to ensure more commitment from its officers.
According to O’Brien, Gilman has historically allowed anyone who attended two, nonconsecutive meetings to vote on every matter presented. O’Brien says this setup gave individuals, groups, or scenes the ability to easily stack the vote, which has happened at recent meetings. “Our current staff is pretty sizable and experienced but cannot prevent entire meetings from being distracted or controlled by whoever has the most numbers, loudest gripe, most authoritative way of speaking or who is held in highest esteem, regardless of current contribution to the collective effort,” O’Brien wrote. “All of the club’s decisions have to be made in this environment. It’s probably the biggest reason we still trying to become a non-profit.”
But changing the bylaws was no easy matter. First, O’Brien says that no copy of the bylaws existed at the club. When those bylaws surfaced, it was discovered that voting members were required to contribute to the club by performing one task per month. Though there was some opposition, the following changes were made: Officers no longer have to be 21, responsibilities and duties of the officers were clarified, and a voting member must attend one meeting per month and complete one task per month.
In the meantime, O’Brien says they’re looking to elect a new secretary and a board member. Elections take place on Saturday, May 15. To find out more, attend one of the venue’s meetings on the first and third Saturday of every month, at 5 p.m. Also, throughout the month of May, a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the book, Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day, by Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor, will be donated to Gilman. Participating bookstores include Dog Eared Books, Green Apple Books, Get Lost Books, City Lights, Booksmith, and Pegasus Books, and Phoenix Books. Anyone who wants to donate can do so at 924Gilman.org or send checks to Alternative Music Foundation, P.O. Box 1058, Berkeley, CA 94701.