Echo Park’s Machine Project needs to get creative about cash

Machine Project, the alternative Echo Park art space, won rave reviews from local and national media last month for its one-day, creative takeover of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. But perhaps Machine Project should have taken control of a bank instead. Founder Mark Allen put out the word a few days ago that one of his major contributors had decided against extending a $35,000 grant for a third year in a row, citing a drop in the value of its investments. Machine thus joined the growing list of art and cultural institutions whose donations have been cut in light of Wall Street’s nosedive.

“I’m not angry with them. We were just counting on that,” Allen said of the grant in an interview. “It’s very worrisome in the short term.”

Allen would not identify the source of the grant but said it accounted for about 25% of Machine Project’s revenues. The organization needs to cover monthly costs of about $9,000, which includes rent on its Alvarado storefront and the salary for its only employee, Michele Yu, operational director of the educational nonprofit.

The sudden shortfall means Machine is going to have to take a harder look at making itself less dependent on grants, which generate about 60% of its income, Allen said. Machine recently appealed to the many new supporters who signed up at LACMA, and Allen said he’s looking at how to boost income from workshop fees and memberships. “It’s kind of an opportunity to build in that direction.”

He’s preparing to organize another fundraising campaign. But you can donate now.

Photo: Machine Project

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