How did we get here?

The After Ghost Ship panel was organized by Claudia Leung, outgoing senior program associate at the San Francisco Arts Commission. She began the panel by giving a shout out to Nadia Elokdah (Deputy Director at Grantmakers in the Arts) for all her hard work moving the conference at the last minute. The conference was originally set to take place at the Oakland Marriott, but since Marriott workers are on strike nation-wide, the conference had to be moved at the eleventh hour. Claudia then introduced the panelists: Katherin Canton of Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition and Emerging Arts Professionals SF/Bay Area, David Keenan of DIY Safer Spaces, Devi Peacock of Peacock Rebellion and the Liberate 23rd Ave Collective, Eric Arnold of the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition and Black Arts Movement District Community Development Corporation and moderator, journalist Chris Zaldua.

Eric Arnold spoke first and gave a presentation called “How did we get here?” which attempted to sum up to last 20 years of gentrification in Oakland. He provided a lot of important background information for the discussion, so I’m going to take some time recapping his presentation.

In 1999, then Oakland mayor Jerry Brown (now California’s governor) instituted an initiative called 10K with the goal of bringing 10,000 new residents to downtown Oakland. Between 2000 and 2015, Oakland’s population rose by about 44,000 but only 1,000 units of “affordable housing” were built. (According to Eric, affordable housing is defined on a federal level as where a resident/tenant does not have to spend more than 30% of their income on rent. For some reason, in Oakland, even housing where you are spending up to 60% of your income on rent is considered “affordable.”) The housing built as part of the 10k initiative was all market rate.

In 2006, the recession hit Oakland and hit its Black homeowners, who have been targeting for predatory lending and sub-prime mortgage loans, particularly hard. The same year, Oakland Art Murmur started as a DIY arts and culture initiative. “The Oakland renaissance has been driven by arts and culture.” In 2012, Jerry Brown (now governor) eliminated the state redevelopment agency, which decimated the funding available for affordable housing subsidies and arts organizations, particularly funding available for visual arts projects like anti-blight murals. Also in 2012, the Urban Strategies Council reported that African-Americans were leaving Oakland at a higher rate than any other demographic, a trend which has continued to this day.

From 2012 to 2015, the rents in Oakland increased 76%, the most of any city in the US. In 2013, Oakland was named one of America’s top art places. Oakland starts to become a destination for the arts, but at the same time, artists are being pushed out at an alarming rent due to rising rents and the shortage of affordable housing. In 2013, Art Murmur morphs into First Fridays and begins to draw tens of thousands of attendees, increasing Oakland cultural cache as a place to be and a place for the arts.

In 2014, Oakland amended the existing public art ordinance to mandate contributions from private developers. In 2015, the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition formed, started by Anyka Barber of Betti Ono Gallery and Katherin Canton.

More coming soon.

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