San Francisco Institute of Possiblity

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Out of the Ashes in Oakland

Out of the Ashes in Oakland, Bay Area Arts Organizations Vow to Enhance Venue Safety and Support Community and Underground Art Spaces

San Francisco, Dec 9th, 2016 – For many Bay Area artists, Oakland’s terrible fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse is a call to action.

“This should be a time for grieving, but artists are already being evicted,” said Courtney King, a Board Member of the San Francisco Institute of Possibility (SFIOP), an arts and education non-profit. “The very community most affected by the loss of life is now facing the loss of its homes and livelihoods. The damage to individual lives and the vitality of the Bay Area art scene is worsening every day, and we must act now.”

In the wake of this tragedy, many of the Bay Area’s artists, musicians, performers, and leading community arts organizations are determined to ensure that the loss of life is not compounded by a loss of culture.

“Underground art spaces are integral to the unique character and success of the Bay Area. They are not a problem to be solved — they are part of the solution to the Bay Area’s affordability crisis,” said Colin Fahrion, SFIOP Board Member. “Safety does not need to come at the price of access to the arts for all people. We can have both, and it begins with community outreach.”

Nonprofit arts organizations in Oakland and San Francisco are now beginning to coordinate outreach and response efforts, including the SFIOP.  The SFIOP board has also formed a partnership with We the Artists of the Bay Area (WABA), a group of talented individuals that has recently joined together in response to this tragedy to help protect the Bay Area’s vital art culture. WABA’s quick growth has been impressive and it is now on track to be the largest self-organized groups of artists in the Bay Area.

The SFIOP is developing partnerships with these organizations to share expertise and create a joint program to reach as much of the community as possible. The goals of this program are to:

  • Connect a network of experienced event managers and place makers to the community and underground art scene in the Bay Area.
  • Offer free, confidential consultations on the state of current venues with an emphasis on safety. The network will offer assistance on everything from managing exits to upgrading electrical wiring.
  • Offer free classes on safe venue development and effective event management.
  • Help educate local governments on the value of these spaces, and the housing problems artists face in the current economy.
  • Serve as liaisons between underground venues and local governments, where appropriate.
  • Encourage regulatory agencies and property owners to work with these all important creative spaces and foster their growth, rather than shut them down.

“The Bay Area has an extensive community of artists who have been running daring but safe events, in all kinds of spaces, for decades,” said Tyler Hanson, cofounder of WABA. “We lead the world in our collective expertise on these issues. This is a tradition to be proud of and a vital resource not to be overlooked. And that is why we are organizing an alliance, to be artistic voice for this community”

Cofounder of WABA, Will Chase agreed. “Working with local agencies, we can make immediate strides in safety while supporting the Bay Area’s diverse art scene. The answer starts with open communication, and a message to artists that their contributions to our communities are valued.”

For more information, contact

Benjamin Wachs
Board Member of the San Francisco Institute of Possibility
benjamin@sfiop.org
(415) 862-4273

The San Francisco Institute of Possibility is a Bay Area based 501(c)3 arts and education non-profit dedicated to creating a sustainable ecology of art: enabling new and established artists, fostering community and civic engagement through art, and perpetuating an inclusive artistic community that lives the art it produces. Since 2013, the SFIOP has produced large and small scale interactive art events in the Bay Area, involving hundreds of local artists.