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Oakland artists eye $$ for community projects

on May 31, 2009

More than 50 local artists envisioning sunflower murals, films and other projects attended an orientation Thursday at City Hall to find out about the Oakland Open Proposals program in which the city will give out $100,000 for art projects.

“We still have money to fund art, even though the budget is cut across the board,” Steven Huss, the Cultural Arts Program Coordinator at Oakland’s Cultural Art and Marketing Department, told the artists.

“I would like to detox some parts of Oakland with my sunflower murals, ” said Pam Consear, a 43-year old artist.

Others saw the opportunity as a recession rarity.

“I have applied for more than 30 grants,” said Mateen Kemet, a filmmaker, who is working on a project Oakland B Mine. “With the economy less foundations are giving money for individual artists.”

The Bronx native artist said he fell in love with Oakland and now lives here.

Others agreed. “My art work is dependent on disposable income, and many artists are suffering,” said Sabrina Fadial, a mix media artist, who uses everything from steel to wine corks for her creations. Fadial, who also teaches art at the Crucible, a non-profit educational facility in West Oakland, said her classes were canceled because of the low-enrollment—a development she blamed on students having less money to spend on art classes.

The city will fund artists with up to $14,000 per project such as sculpture, painting and other visual arts.

For the first time,  an outside foundation, the  Open Circle  Foundation, is funding Oakland Open Proposals.

The city’s art project usually draws its budget from the general fund. Some 1.5 percent of the city’s capital improvement money used for public construction, is allocated to for art projects on public buildings, according to city officials. Oakland Open Proposals is open to projects anywhere in the city.

“The city council wants to see community art projects in every district, especially culturally under-served areas,” Huss told the artists. “The project, which can be put anywhere in the city would be good, or if you pick the specific site, it has to be about that site.” Huss emphasized the importance of the projects purpose.

Huss said the competition would be tough because Oakland has more artists per capita than any other city except Long Beach and Brooklyn.

The deadline for the application is June 29th. The city is holding another orientation on June 2 at Oakland City Hall.


  1. Oakland North » North Oakland Now 05.31.09 on May 31, 2009 at 11:47 am

    […] – a service we’ll be more in need of soon – and read about how the city is planning to fund local artists, despite the budget […]

  2. Jim Smith on June 5, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Thanks Ayako for sharing this information with us, I like this blog, The above information given by you is very impressive and helpful.

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