Youth Arts Hub to Open in Upper Yard Housing Development

A youth arts program provider is opening a new studio in the neighborhood after creating a partnership with an affordable housing developer.

Building rendering
A ground floor retail space in the Kapuso at the Balboa Park Upper Yard will be occupied by YAX Studios. | Courtesy image
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Youth Art Exchange, or YAX, is partnering with Mission Housing Development Corporation to open a youth and community arts hub in one of the affordable housing developer’s new buildings in the neighborhood.

YAX will open an 1,100-square-foot screenprinting shop, fashion design studio and gallery and event space in the Balboa Park Upper Yard housing development.

The nearly complete 131-unit building is located beside Balboa Park Station on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s former streetcar storage lot called the Upper Yard. Mission Housing, which is also developing housing in the Balboa Reservoir, recently named the 100% affordable project “Kapuso,” the Tagalog word for heartmate.

YAX and Mission Housing already opened a similar hub called YAX Studios at La Fénix, an affordable housing building at 1950 Mission St.

“By YAX being on the ground level of two of their new affordable housing sites, more youth will have easier, closer and deeper access to our programs,” the arts provider wrote in a newsletter. “We're excited to work with residents of the sites and support affordable housing in San Francisco.”

Founded in 2000 as Out of Site and headquartered in Ingleside at Lick-Wilmerding High School for many years, YAX operates [x]space arts hub, an interactive art making and exhibition space for youth and community members of all ages, in the Excelsior District at 5137 Mission St.

The two new locations in the Mission Housing buildings are YAX’s first permanent spaces, a significant achievement for a small organization that estimates it has operated in 49 borrowed, shared and pop up spaces over the years.

A special thank you to MHDC for this incredible opportunity, and to David Baker Architects, Swinerton Construction and Mithun provided discounted and pro-bono services at both locations," according to YAX Executive Director Raffaella Falchi Macias.

"We want our youth to feel important when they work, exhibit and perform in these spaces and we want them to have access to the same professional equipment, technology and tools of contemporary industry standards in the arts," Falchi Macias said in a recent newsletter. "We want them to feel safe and we want to be a second home where they can come and hang out."

YAX aims to better serve and grow its program participants, 90% of which are youth of color and 80% are low income. It's joined by Performing Arts Workshop which moved into renovated section of the historic Geneva Office Building and Powerhouse directly across the street.

The new hubs will provide safe places for affordable housing residents to send their children by serving them directly where they live and reducing barriers to art education, according to YAX. The buildings were selected for being in neighborhoods where it has operated in the past where low income youth of color live as well as obtaining reduced occupancy costs and can earn revenue from space rentals and fee-for-service activities.

To pay for the new locations and programs, the youth arts provider launched a campaign called YAX to the MAX to raise $1.5 million. YAX has raised approximately $750,000 and the Walter + Elise Haas Fund has pledged to match the first $200,000 in donations made before March 1, 2023, doubling donor impact.

YAX is enrolling high school students now for its 2023 arts classes.

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