In the wake of the weekend fire at an artists' space that left dozens dead, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has announced a $1.7 million initiative aimed at supporting the creation of affordable, safe spaces for the city's artists and arts organizations.
With funding from the Kenneth Rainin and the William and Flora Hewlett foundations, the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) will launch Keeping Space – Oakland, a two-year financial and technical assistance program designed to help arts organizations facing displacement due to rising costs and/or unsafe conditions. Through the program, CAST will offer grants of up to $75,000 to Oakland-based arts organizations to help them identify and complete real estate transactions that result in permanent affordable space. CAST also will partner with the Northern California Community Loan Fund to offer technical assistance to arts organizations, with real estate experts at NCCLF assisting arts organizations in gaining the skills needed to navigate complex real estate transactions, including how to negotiate protective lease terms and acquiring property.
"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," said Schaaf. "This public-private collaboration and [these] 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."