Oakland, CA Mayor Libby Schaaf has announced $1.7 million in philanthropic funds to support sustainable, long-term solutions to creating affordable, safe spaces for Oakland’s artists and arts organizations. Though this support has been in development for many months, these funds are especially important and prescient in light of the recent Oakland warehouse fire tragedy.
With funding from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) — a nonprofit real estate organization — has launched a new financial and technical assistance program to help arts organizations facing displacement. This philanthropic support will seed a capital fund to allow CAST to initiate a real estate acquisition program in Oakland to create permanently space for artists and arts organizations.
These investments come at a critical time, as artists and arts organizations are at risk of displacement due to Oakland’s escalating housing and commercial space costs. Today’s announcements represent recommendations of a multi-disciplinary taskforce that Mayor Schaaf convened in 2015 to help stem the displacement of artists and arts organizations from Oakland.
“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. 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,” said Mayor Schaaf.
Oakland is home to hundreds of arts and cultural nonprofit organizations, and a significant population of working artists, with an estimated economic impact of $53 million per year (2010 study by Americans for the Arts).
Supporting Safe Facilities For Oakland, CA Arts Community
The Kenneth Rainin and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation funding will support the expansion of CAST into Oakland. CAST will implement several initiatives that together will result in long-term, sustainable solutions for creating affordable and safe spaces for Oakland’s arts community.
CAST’s new two-year pilot initiative, Keeping Space – Oakland, launched December 7, 2016 and provides technical and financial assistance to arts and cultural organizations that are seeking real estate expertise and funding for their space needs. Through Keeping Space – Oakland, CAST offers grants up to $75,000 to arts organizations that have been displaced, or are facing displacement, from the city. The grants are intended to help arts organizations execute real estate transactions that result in permanent affordable space.
In addition, as part of the Keeping Space – Oakland initiative, CAST is partnering with the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF), a local nonprofit, to offer technical assistance to arts organizations. Real estate consulting experts at NCCLF will assist arts organizations in gaining the skills they need to navigate real estate projects, including negotiating protective lease terms and acquiring property.
Applications for Keeping Space – Oakland are due February 10, 2017, and more information is found on the CAST website.
Finally, support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will help seed a capital fund to allow CAST to launch a real estate acquisition program in Oakland to create permanently affordable, safe art spaces. The fund will be used to purchase real estate and lease at below market rates to Oakland artists and arts organizations.
CAST Executive Director Moy Eng said, “Keeping Space – Oakland and our new real estate acquisition efforts are dedicated to ensuring that Oakland’s arts organizations and artists, who are facing immediate space challenges, remain a vital part of our communities through training, funding, and ultimately permanent real estate solutions. When our local artists and arts organizations are firmly rooted, the entire city benefits.”
Shelley Trott, Director of Arts Strategy and Ventures at the Kenneth Rainin Foundation added, “CAST is a proven model for the community to stem displacement in the arts. This innovative approach addresses financial equity issues by profoundly changing the dynamics. We look forward to seeing the impact it will have in Oakland.”
“NCCLF’s Consulting Department has a long history of stabilizing nonprofits through its real estate and financial management services,” said Joanne Lee, Director of Consulting Services. “We are pleased to join our partners at the City of Oakland, CAST, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to preserve artistic resources in Oakland.”