“T.W.Five,” 2010. Exhibition view at The Luggage Store, San Francisco. Courtesy The Luggage Store
The Luggage Store, also known as the 509 Cultural Center, is a nonprofit, artist-run multidisciplinary arts organization founded in 1987. We obtained our 501C3 nonprofit status in November 1989. We began as an all-volunteer collective (with seventeen members), predominantly of residents from the former Aarti Cooperative Hotel at Ellis and Leavenworth, in 1987. We remained a collective until about 1989, right around the time of the Lomo Prieta Earthquake.
Our mission is to build community by organizing multidisciplinary arts programming that is accessible to and reflective of the Bay Area’s residents. Our programs are designed to broaden social and aesthetic networks, and to encourage the flow of images and ideas between the diverse cultural communities that cross paths in our exceptionally dynamic downtown San Francisco neighborhood. To implement our mission, we organize exhibitions, performing arts events, and arts education and public art programs designed to amplify the voices of the region’s diverse artists and residents, promote inclusion and respect, reduce inter-group tensions, and work toward dispelling the stereotypes and fears that continue to separate us.