While many cities lose musicians and artists who can no longer afford rents, Santa Cruz's refurbished leather factory has given hope of keeping the city weird and talented.
"This really puts Santa Cruz on the arts map," said Bruce Labadie, a San Jose event promoter who lives in Santa Cruz. "I can't think of anything else like it."
Once a factory, ten years ago the city took on a proposal to make it a space with 100 low-rent apartments and 28 work studios.
While such complexes are more common in Europe, the Minneapolis group Artspace USA has been promoting similar concepts in Colorado, Indiana, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa and a proposal for the East Garrison Arts Center in Monterey, to name a few.
Tannery Arts cost $40 million for 100 apartments and $7 million for the second phase of artist studios. The next phase, according to director Rachel Goodman, would be a $5 million, 200-seat theater for music and performances. It is expected to open in 2014 if funds can be raised.
Friday night there was plenty of everything except parking. Lots along River Street were packed and people were parking as far away as Costco and Gateway Plaza. There is a path along the river from Gateway that leads to the Tannery.
Other than that, this First Friday was a huge success with artists meeting artists and customers, a cultural marketplace.