Through its “Dream House Raffle” http://www.sfraffle.com/. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts extracts capital from the red hot property market in San Francisco to finance its art programs. Prizes in the raffle include the multi-million dollar “Dream House” and a slough of other luxury prizes, including luxury cars, luxury vacations, and jewelry, and other capitalist trinkets. The raffle’s web site has the “look and feel” of a shopping channel site or a seedy internet scam. (Full disclosure: I am an artist who does not own property in San Francisco and has purchased raffle tickets in previous years.) The “Dream House Raffle” has run for the last five years.
The irony is that this avowed supporter of the local arts is profiting from the red hot property and rental market that has driven many artists out of town. In addition YBCA’s celebration of exclusive, expensive luxury goods, absent of any balancing position on the housing situation in San Francisco and the Bay Area, brings into question its claim to represent of a cross-section of diversity in the City.
The high property values have been fueled primarily by the booming tech sector that is threatening to turn San Francisco into a playground for the young rich technocrati and their heavily pampered dogs [there are more dogs San Francisco than children]. In it’s “Dream House Raffle” the nightmare hypocrisy of this so-called liberal city is brought into sharp focus.
Advertisements for the “Dream House” are cropping up all over San Francisco – on billboards, on buses and bus shelters, and in BART stations. Along the platform at Powell Street station a long line of Dream House billboard advertisements disappears into the distance. Strangely, none of these ads mention YBCA as if, indeed, there is something embarrassing about the enterprise.
In its advertising, YBCA gives the general location of the “Dream House” but the address is a closely guarded secret. This year, the house is in Pacific Heights. After two hours using Google Maps with Street View, combined with pictures of the house itself and the views from it as shown on the raffle web site, I found it at 2508 Green Street.
Some artists and activists are attempting to raise awareness of the contradictions surrounding the raffle. In January of this year, a group called “Occupy the Dream House” staged a demonstration at the 2012 Dream House in Menlo Park.
The drawing for the main prize is is scheduled for June 21, 2013 when the lucky winner of the “Dream House” will be announced and they will join the rich property owners on top of the hill.