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8 Projects Chosen for Sparking Radical Imagination and Action for Oakland 

OAKLAND, CALIF., October 14, 2021 The East Bay Community Foundation, Akonadi Foundation, and the City of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Division today announced its second round of awards for Belonging In Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund. Eight projects were awarded two-year grants totaling $780,000 for projects that spark radical imagination for racial justice and activates the creativity and agency of Oakland’s citizens. 

“As cities across the country embark on a journey of racial reckoning, Oakland artists, grantmakers and city government are coming together to center arts and culture as a springboard to create solutions to the City’s most complex issues,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “We hope that the social and cultural connections made through this program will push all of us to reimagine what our lives, our city, and our country would be like if we all truly felt like we belonged.” 

The Fund is a unique public, private and community partnership that centers Oakland’s Black, Indigenous, People of color artists culture workers in the intersectional work of racial justice while bringing together the cultural equity vision of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Division, the racial justice mission of the Akonadi Foundation, and the power building commitment of East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF).

“The eight projects that were chosen exemplify the extraordinary power of arts and culture to reimagine new landscapes and narratives, liberate deferred potential, recover old wisdoms, and unleash radical hope. It is through the process of questioning and reimagining that we can shine a fresh light on injustice, build solidarity, and work toward—a better future for all of our communities,” said Lateefah Simon, president of Akonadi Foundation.

In its second year, Belonging in Oakland is supporting the cultural sector in the city as artists and culture makers navigate uncertain times and turn moments of profound crisis into thought provoking work sparking hope for the future of Oakland.

“These artists dare us to radically imagine racial justice by using arts and culture as a means to unify our communities,” said James Head, president and CEO of East Bay Community Foundation. “As EBCF embarks on our journey to advance an inclusive, fair and just East Bay, we continue to uplift the power of arts and culture to drive social change and build stronger communities and neighborhoods.” 

Belonging in Oakland centers cultural life of communities of color as integral to Oakland’s legacy of activism, and is made possible by a grant from Surdna Foundation’s Radical Imagination for Racial Justice Initiative, with additional funding from Akonadi Foundation and East Bay Community Foundation. Oakland is one of thirteen cities across the nation to receive the Surdna Foundation grant.

Projects selected for funding are:

  • Civic Design Studio: Public Space Initiative – Led by Tommy Wong, Civic Design Studio-Public Space Initiative reimagines and improves shared public spaces for underserved communities across Oakland. The project utilizes its 20-year old network of schools, district leaders, community organizations, creative industry partners, and City government agencies to create “evergreen curriculum” in schools and industry pathways for young creatives
  • Dads Evoking Change – Oakland artists/cultural practitioners–Shawn Williams (poet), Pendarvis Harshaw, (storyteller/journalist), and Cory TK Campbell (videographer) aim to interrupt systemic marginalization of Black fathers by the family court system through a series of powerful new media features and community engagement activities. 
  • Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park – African American landscape architect/sculptor Walter Hood, Ohlone culture practitioners/artist Corrina Gould, Linda Yamane, Ruth Orta, Ramona Garibay and Vincent Medina will partner with the Peralta Hacienda staff and Fruitvale community residents to animate visions of Indigenous culture to address the historical annihilation and contemporary invisibility of Native voices and culture. 
  • The Haven Project – Still I Rise is a collaborative project between Masters of Ceremony, RyanNicole Peters, G.O.L.D. (fka Coco Peila), and Maddy “MADlines” Clifford that merges the ancient, African, artistic structure of the Hip Hop cypher with the technology of a vodcast and EP series, effectively sparking conversations that interrupt Misogynoir, amplify marginalized voices and empower Oaklanders for decades to come.
  • Kingmakers of Oakland – Obasi Davis and Cava Menzies partner with young artists from Oakland Unified School District’s Office of Equity (via the African American Female Excellence and African American Male Achievement programs), Young Gifted and Black (YGB), and the Oakland School for the Arts, to create? a justice-facing soundtrack album, Black anime film, and cultural showcase in collaboration with Oakland Unified School District.
  • Oakland Sustaining Ourselves Locally (SOL) – Oakland SOL Revival is a Black American preservation and radical reparations project focused on Queer, Femme leadership and collaboration. Avé-Ameenah and Laya Wig are utilizing the storefront and garden they steward to create a stronghold for Black community and culture in the San Antonio/Fruitvale neighborhoods of East Oakland. This project directly challenges issues of displacement and food injustice by addressing the disappearance of Black businesses, artists, cultural hubs, and living food programs in Oakland.
  • Spirit Root Medicine People (SRMP): Two Spirit Lifeways – Led by Two Spirit/Takataapui cultural practitioners RaheNi Gonzalez, M. Zamora, Loa Niumeitolu, this project engages Two Spirit/LGBTQI Indigenous people who exist across Huichin, Oakland to envision a just city where wellness and medicine circles heal and renew Two Spirit people from unprecedented rates of suicide, severe mental illness, high rates of drug addiction, wide spread homelessness and poverty, and the normalization of living in the closet. 
  • Village in Oakland – Led by Oakland unhoused artists, citizens and housing advocates Anita Needa Bee Miralle, Pancho Pescador, Ayat Jalal Bryant and Lola, “Tarpestries” will work with unhoused citizens to design and transport murals carrying messages of healing and information about community resources and direct-action plans related to Oakland’s housing affordability crisis. 

Last year, the Belonging In Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund awarded 12 grantees for projects that spark the imaginations and amplify the voices of Oakland communities most impacted by systemic racism and inequality. Find more information about the grantees, and updates on additional funding on the Just City Cultural Fund page.

Akonadi Foundation supports powerful social change movements, primarily in Oakland, that work to eliminate structural racism and create a racially just society. Akonadi Foundation seeks to stop the criminalization of young people of color and promote responses to harm that nurture wellness and well-being. Since its founding in 2000, the Foundation has given over 1,800 grants totaling $43 million to nonprofit organizations, primarily in the Bay Area, as well as across the country. For more information, visit: Akonadi.org 

Founded in 1928, and supported by over 400 local donors, the East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) connects donors with community-led movements to eliminate structural barriers, advance racial equity, and create an inclusive, fair, and just East Bay. Recognized as 2019’s “Boldest Community Foundation” by Inside Philanthropy, EBCF is committed to ensuring that all members of our community are treated fairly, with equitable opportunity and outcomes. EBCF has charitable assets under management of over $800 million.

The Cultural Affairs Division is housed in the City’s Economic & Workforce Development Department. The division includes the City’s cultural funding program, which provides approximately $1 million in grants to support the arts in Oakland; and the public art program, which has more than $1 million in funds currently dedicated for public art installations across Oakland and staff working on special events, film production permitting and a walking tours program. 

The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. Learn more at www.surdna.org.

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