Now, Barber says, they can “grow in the space and dig deep” without “clouds of uncertainty” plaguing future plans. The gallery plans to apply for nonprofit status; they currently have fiscal sponsorship through fellow City of Oakland tenant Pro Arts.
The announcement comes as a welcome and rare bit of good news at a time when nonprofit arts spaces on both sides of the Bay struggle with landlord rent increases. San Francisco’s 48-year-old Galería de la Raza moved out of their 24th Street gallery space and into an interim spot on Valencia Street at the end of 2018. And Aggregate Space Gallery expects to have to leave their Oakland warehouse space at the beginning of August.
Barber hopes her successful lease negotiation will help Oakland forge real estate partnerships with other arts and culture organizations. “To be here now means that this should create more opportunity,” she says. “We recognized that a precedent had to be set. I’m hopeful we can help advance this as a model and even refine it.”
But for now, Barber and her team are simply thrilled.
“We are ecstatic!” she says. “I can’t even say it’s surreal because we worked so hard for it, but it feels like we really accomplished something—and that we did it arm-in-arm with our public... This is a win for the whole town, for Oakland and for black women in leadership in the arts.”