A Poignantly Timed Announcement of Support for Artists in Oakland

December 6, 2016; KRON-TV (Oakland, CA)

Less than a week after the Ghost Ship Fire, which killed 36 individuals in a warehouse being used as a live/work art space, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced previously planned, long in the works investments to a public-private initiative that will help create sustainable, affordable, and safe spaces for Oakland’s artists and art organizations.

The philanthropic investors are the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which together will invest $1.7 million in the Community Arts Stabilization Trust. The money is to go to a capital fund to create permanently affordable space for artists and art organizations in Oakland. The formidable Rainin Foundation is an active player in similar real estate projects with a purpose in nearby San Francisco, as we reported here and here.

“The arts are at the center of vibrant and diverse communities and are critical to neighborhood health and well-being, yet artists and cultural organizations are increasingly vulnerable to instability and displacement,” Mayor Schaaf said. “This public-private collaboration and investments are aimed at preventing displacement, growing the capacity of the city’s artists and cultural organizations, and enhancing municipal resources for the cultural sector over the long haul.”

The investment from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will help seed a capital fund to acquire spaces for artists that will remain “permanently affordable.” The overall initiative, as with the ones funded by Rainin in San Francisco, will provide technical and financial assistance to arts and cultural organizations and will award grants of up to $75,000 to arts organizations that have been displaced or face displacement in the city. The foundation will also fund a staff position to develop new policies and initiatives to stop the displacement of artists and arts organizations in Oakland.

The Northern California Community Loan Fund is also a partner in the project.—Ruth McCambridge