Oakland Committee to Vote on Establishing New Arts District

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An aerial view of downtown Oakland.  (Photo Credit: James Daisa/Flickr)

Oaklanders often claim the city has the country’s highest number of artists per capita, but those artists worry that the city’s rising rents will push them and arts organizations out of "the Town", just as they’ve been pushed out of San Francisco.

So City Council President Lynette Gibson-McElhaney has crafted a resolution designating 14th Street as a “Black Business And Arts District." Councilmembers on the Community Economic Development Committee are slated to vote on the resolution Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The block on 14th Street and the neighboring blocks west of Lake Merritt are home to the African American Museum and Library, the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, the Joyce Gordon Gallery, the Oakland Post, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle and the Betti Ono Gallery. Anyka Barber runs the Betti Ono and worked with Gibson-McElhaney to craft the resolution.

“It sets a precedent and positions the city for growth around its arts and culture,” Barber said, “and creates safe havens that let the arts and culture community know that Oakland is really really focused on being an arts and small business city.

Gibson-McElhaney has said once Oakland designates the district, the city can seek state funding and foundation grants to support the arts organizations there.