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Public Art Policy

Cultural Resilience, Community Engagement, and Addressing Displacement from an Equity Standpoint

In the wake of the recent completion of the mural dedicated to murdered painter Antonio Ramos and Soul of Oakland and OCNC rallies to defend Oakland’s culture, CRP painted the outside walls of community organization Qilombo as part of an anti-gentrification rally. Most of the massive wall, which features portraits of Assata Shakur,Thomas Sankara, and Amed Sekou Toure against a red black and green backdrop, was done in just one day. Qilombo is currently facing another eviction attempt, this time from…

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As Development Threatens Displacement, Oakland Artists Fight for Cultural Equity

As CRP previously reported, the September 3 kick-off of the public engagement phase of the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan (DOSP), followed the same week by a SPUR report outlining “big ideas,” raised community concerns about displacement and exclusion. None of those ideas, it seemed, addressed displacement, affordability, or maintaining diversity, and arts and culture seemed an afterthought at best. A second meeting, held October 19, did little to dispel those concerns. The evening began with a speak-out to defend Oakland’s arts and…

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Big Ideas for Oakland’s Downtown Mostly Exclude Artists (Op/Ed)

Retaining the character, flavor and cultural identity of Oakland should be a Big Idea. But in an urban planning process which appears to be completely run by developers and consultants, apparently with the blessing of the pro-development administration of Mayor Libby Schaff, broadly diverse voices of the artistic and creative community may have been all but shut out of that process. As CRP previously noted, the development community has already taken aim at the arts, by filing a lawsuit this…

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Developers Vs. Art (Op/Ed)

  This past July, the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area (BIA) – a developer’s club, whose members includes realtors, construction companies, mortgage lenders, and building manufacturers—joined forces with conservative legal activists Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) to challenge a recent Oakland public art ordinance. The PLF filed a lawsuit on the BIA’s behalf in federal courts, alleging Oakland committed a civil rights violation in enacting the ordinance, which expands current percent for art requirements to private (1%) and residential…

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Rethinking the Abatement Industrial Complex from a Public Art Policy Framework

Since its founding in 2007, the Community Rejuvenation Project has sought to transform communities with holistic, vibrant, and uplifting murals which engage and inspire viewers. A large part of our work, however, has been overcoming negative perceptions of street art, which is often linked to vandalism and youth crime. We have also seen the need for sounder, saner, and more sensible policy around public art and graffiti abatement, as well as for more communication and better cooperation between all stakeholders…

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Ken Houston and the Fallacy of the Abatement-Industrial Complex

Fourteen months ago, in January 2014, self-proclaimed “community advocate” and wanna-be Oakland Mayoral candidate Ken Houston addressed a roomful of business owners, mass transit corporate executives, high-ranking police officers, journalists and a sprinkling of local and state elected officials or their representatives, invited on behalf of the East Oakland Beautification Council, a community initiative developed under the auspices of the Turner Construction Group (on whose website the group’s minutes appear), a major developer whose past projects include the Fox Theater and…

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Oakland Tribune Reports: City Council Has Only Spent a Fraction of Abatement Mural Allotment

  As CRP previously reported , Councilmember Desley Brooks (D6) is on record as telling KPFA’s Davey D, “Neighborhoods in West Oakland and East Oakland need to have public art.” Yet in an Oakland Tribune article published on Sunday, April 26, it was revealed that Brooks and her fellow Councilmembers have dragged their feet in allocating funds set aside in 2013 for abatement murals. As reporter Mike Blasky noted, “Of the $400,000 the council approved, only $14,100 has been formally allocated,…

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The Privatization of Public Art

Last November, then-Councilmember Libby Schaff proposed a new ordinance which required a percentage of new development–.5% for residential property, and 1% for private development—for “public art.” The ordinance further codified an existing public art program, which provides 1.5% of capital improvement projects to “commission and acquire public art.”  Yet while the existing public art fund is administered by the city’s Cultural Arts dept., the new ordinance “provides developers with the option of commissioning public art on the development site or…

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