Oakland's New Creative Neighborhoods Coalition Announces First Meeting

It will be held at Betti Ono Gallery on June 10.


Last week, we published a feature called Where are Oakland's Black Artists?, which partially reported on the threat of displacement that Oakland's galleries and cultural centers are currently facing. As rents continue to rise in Oakland, more and more centers of creativity are unsure how long they will be able to remain in the city or stay open at all. The story highlighted Betti Ono, a gallery in Downtown Oakland that focuses on amplifying the voices of marginalized people and supporting the work that they create. Betti Ono director Anyka Barber is quoted in the piece, saying, "Displacement via gentrification, displacement via city laws, ordinances, or policies, or whatever's happening economically in this city, is all a threat to arts and culture institutions that are particularly focused on serving an audience that's not held up by the status quo." Barber and many others involved in the local art community feel that proactive, conscious, and collaborative efforts must be made to ensure that artists and arts organizations aren't pushed out of their neighborhoods and that supporting them remains a priority for the city. 

Courtesy of the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition.
  • Courtesy of the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition.

On Wednesday, June 10 from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Barber and Katherin Canton of Emerging Arts Professionals San Francisco Bay Area will be hosting a Community Priorities Meeting at Betti Ono (1427 Broadway, Oakland). It will be the first meeting for a critical initiative they are organizing called the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition, which will be focused on building strategies for maintaining the well-being of Oakland's arts community and working toward cultural equity in Oakland, prioritizing historically underrepresented communities, according to a statement on the Facebook invitation for the event.  Read the "call to action," "vision" and "structure" statements that the initiative also shared below.  
Call to Action
The City of Oakland is facing many crucial decisions at this moment as the next 2 year proposed budget (2015-2017) is being reviewed by the city council and in community budget hearing forums. Each council member will have an opportunity to identify and set budget priorities for their district and will vote to adopt a final budget by June 30th. In this moment of rapid and massive displacement, workforce development challenges, severe lack of affordable housing, and unnamed arts and culture priorities, the people of Oakland have an opportunity to speak up to ensure that budget priorities are rooted in cultural equity and create a vision where intersectional arts, culture and community initiatives are core priorities for neighborhood investment and development.

We aim to build a base of supporters that help shape and develop neighborhood based priorities for creative investment and activities; to encourage the City to re-establish the Oakland Arts Commission to assist in the creation of a neighborhood centered cultural plan. The adoption of a cultural plan that leverages the people and community assets already being cultivated on the grassroots level, and to encourage council members to develop policy/budget recommendations that support arts and cultural preservation, affordability, and healthy neighborhoods.

We invite anyone that wants to be involved in (1) action planning and advocacy, (2) communicating/rallying people, (3) policy writing/develop/research, (4) stakeholder cultivation, and (5) meeting/gathering facilitation, and probably more tasks to come. Lead organizers are Anyka Barber, Betti Ono Gallery and Katherin Canton, Emerging Arts Professionals/SFBA. This is a volunteer effort. We aim to make this organizing effort a sustainable one.
At this point, Barber and Canton ask that communities and organizations appoint at least one representative to attend this Community Priorities Meeting. Eventually, members will be expected to stay engaged in the conversation surrounding local arts policies and cultural equity, as well as participate in actions. Anyone planning to attend the meeting can RSVP using this form and RSVP on Facebook here.