Rachel Berger moved to New York City in 2011 with the dream of becoming a famous Broadway actress. However, she quickly realized that she loved creating her own work with friends in the theater community and that being an actress doesn’t necessarily mean being an actress; “you can be a writer, a director, you can create your own works,” says Berger. Inspired by the WeWork model, she set out to try and create a WeWork for artists where they could connect with and help one another. That’s when the Artist Co-op (TAC) was born. As part of our ongoing Client Spotlight series, we are pleased to have spoken with Rachel about her work and the community she’s built over the past five years.
After meeting at the Centre for Social Innovation, Elizabeth took Rachel on as a pro bono client to help her with legal advice and their relationship grew from there. Initially, TAC started off as an LLC and was fiscally sponsored. However, the problem with being fiscally sponsored is that 7% of their donations had to go to their fiscal sponsor. Good Counsel helped TAC become a non-profit by establishing their 501(c)(3) status as well as trademark the Artist Co-Op (the branding and the name itself).
Rachel says the word co-op is used in a more figurative than literal sense because TAC is membership-based. For a monthly fee of $40, members have access to a variety of programming geared for artists and building community. Additionally, in order to offset the costs for members who could not afford the monthly fee, TAC offered a "Desk Exchange Program". Volunteers would work one day a week at the front desk where they would greet community members as they walked in and help people feel at home in the space.
Sadly, due to COVID, the physical W 52nd Street & 10th Avenue location has closed, and TAC has moved online for the time being. Now that membership is virtual, part of the programming involves "skillshares" where members are either interviewed about or present a skill, which are recorded on Zoom made accessible to members.
Greatest Initial Challenges
Just like any young person starting something with great potential, Rachel found herself second-guessing her leadership capabilities given her age. She found dealing with the commercial real estate world to be challenging, especially since it is highly male-dominated. However, with time, she learned to trust her gut more, and the positivity continued.
Rachel feels as though she has been successful in her work. After sending an email newsletter to the contacts she’s built over the years regarding the space’s closing, she received numerous positive responses affirming the value of her work and community as further confirmation that TAC will continue to operate with support. Rachel says: “It’s not about the space; it’s not even about the business. It’s about people believing in me as somebody who can create something out of nothing and build a community around it and continue to believe in it...I think success is knowing deep down in yourself who you are…It will live on. If I want it to be, it will be.”
“Being able to step back in the space and seeing the serendipitous connections happening [whereby] people meeting each other and then creating, because they met each other in the space or now virtually, and helping one another, that’s what brings me joy.”
Interested in joining the community? Click here for more information on becoming a virtual member. Want to know what they’re up to and what skills people are sharing? Here is a link to their events calendar.