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Help Berkeley Finnish Hall Stay Open & Accessible

Tax deductible
Please help us stay open and make the Berkeley Finnish Hall accessible to all!

In order to keep our doors open to the community, we need to make the Berkeley Finnish Hall accessible and ADA compliant. We need to raise $250,000 in total to fund the project. Construction starts in June. We *might* get a big grant from the city of Berkeley in May for up to $150,000.

We’ve been working on this for a decade, getting down to the wire, and we need your help.

This is how much construction costs to make the building ADA compliant so that we can stay open to the community. Construction begins in June in order to meet a April 2025 deadline imposed on some parts of this project by a lawsuit settlement from 2021.

Here’s everything we need to do:

  • Add access ramps to two levels
  • Excavate several feet into the foundation to build ramps
  • Build a new entrance and new hallway
  • Reroute HVAC around new entrance and hallway
  • Add another fully ADA compliant bathroom
  • Rebuild a 3-story fire escape

If we do all this, we can keep the building open AND make it accessible to all bodies. It took ten years of work to find the right architect, navigate city building codes, get a plan that makes us ADA compliant, secure the right contractor, and get an actual start date. Now we need to begin construction in June and stay cash flow positive to pay as work continues.

Donating to this Gofundme helps us pay for construction, and there are other ways you can contribute if you’re not able to financially.

  • Donate what you can to this Gofundme. Anything helps! (Other ways to donate below)
  • Ask employers that offer gift matching to match what you give via Benevity
  • Tell your friends, family, dancers, co-workers, colleagues, and community the Finnish Hall needs their help to stay open.
  • Find wealthy philanthropists or donors who want to leave a mark on the arts and dance community in Berkeley.
  • Share this fundraiser on social media! Please. Even if your post gets 0 likes (fundraisers often do), it gets the word out and helps us raise money. #LOVETHEHALL

***Big thanks to FRED MORK for kicking us off with a big donation in November ***
The name of all donors will be included on a special commemorative plaque.

We’ll keep you updated as construction gets closer, grants are approved or not, any big donations come in, and as cash flow for the project becomes critical.

We want to keep the space open for all the communities that already use and love the building. And we want to welcome EVERYbody to this historical community space! Built in 1932 by immigrant families with volunteer labor, the Berkeley Finnish Hall has long stood for Finnish values of equality of opportunity and mutual aid.

We are a home for kids' camps, a mycology association, a textile guild, tango, ballet, improvisation classes, contact improvisation jams, community organizing and so much more!

Let’s make sure this local treasure can be a resource for the whole community, regardless of physical ability.

  • Spent a decade working with different architects to find the most cost effective solution
  • Developed a construction plan for the whole project and found a contractor to do the work
  • Built one ADA accessible bathroom upstairs
  • Applied for relevant grants that could help fund the project

For more information on alternative ways of donating, read on below, and never hesitate to reach out to us!

If you have ideas for fundraising, people we should talk to, or grants we could apply for let us know.

If you prefer, you can also donate via Zelle, Paypal, or Venmo - reach out to us for emails and handles.

If your employer offers gift matching, we encourage you to donate to Sense Object, Inc., through Benevity:

Prefer to send an old fashioned check?
You can do that as well!

Make it out to "Sense Object", and send to:
1970 Chestnut St.
Berkeley CA 94702

Donations to this Gofundme are processed via Sense Object, the 501(c)3 arts organization-in-residence at the hall, and are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. EIN #93-1507563.

We will be fully transparent with any donor who wishes to track how funds are spent.

If desired, you may choose to make a donation directly to the Finnish Heritage Society, however please note that because FHS holds 501(c)4 status, those donations are not tax deductible.

The Berkeley Finnish Hall is a historical building with lots of quirky features. It is a split level building, meaning ramp construction will involve several feet of excavation into the foundation.

Building an entrance at the right slope will also require cutting through walls and creating a new hallway, which will also require rerouting HVAC. The placement of the ramp also means we have to rebuild a third story fire escape, which is no longer to code.

We have been working on this project for almost a decade. We have considered every possible placement of ramps, lifts, even multi-story elevators. We are confident that with the help of our architect, we have reached the most cost effective and feasible plan possible, meeting all of our legal obligations and creating accessibility to a majority of our spaces, if not all.

Unfortunately, construction is still very expensive. We know that with the help of our community, we'll be able to pull this off and keep the space open.

Please reach out if you have any questions or want to help the effort in any way.

The Berkeley Finnish Hall and the Finnish Heritage Society (FHS) historically served Finnish immigrants through mutual aid, and currently serves those seeking connection with Finnish heritage and cultural practices. FHS was formerly known as Lodge 21, which was the second largest lodge in the United Finnish Kaleva Brothers & Sisters association. Finnish cultural activities at the Berkeley Finnish Hall have included stage plays, dances, an orchestra, chorus, folk dancing, lending library, public dances, concerts, voting for Finnish national elections, movies, arts shows, poetry readings, benefits, and holiday parties.

Today, Finnish Heritage Society events are open to the public, regardless of heritage. The Berkeley Finnish Hall and Finnish Heritage Society seek to promote social welfare for the entire community by making the Hall available for community events related to dance, art, music, history, health and wellness, and other community functions. FHS educates the public about Finnish heritage, culture, and traditions, and upholds the mission and values of the Finnish immigrant community that built the hall in 1932.

Sense Object was founded in 2011 as a small arts organization with a mission of fostering contemporary and experimental dance and performing arts by creating performance, research, and educational opportunities. We mostly produce events that focus on development stages, and which highlight the artistic process over the final product. We believe performance practices are contemplative practices, both for artists and audiences, and that they are indispensable to our cultural weft. Sense Object has been producing programming at the Berkeley Finnish Hall since 2014, including classes, workshops, open dance jams, residencies, and performances. We are currently the arts organization in residence at the hall, and are grateful for our long term partnership with this unique community center.



  • Neil Sethi
    • $10 
    • 6 d
  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 14 d
  • Barbara Saarni Oddone
    • $100 
    • 20 d
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 22 d
  • Cathie Caraker
    • $100 
    • 22 d

Fundraising team (2)

Sense Object Inc
Cole Lehman
Team member

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