Artist Favianna Rodriguez

Oakland is known for a vibrant arts scene and its monthly Art Murmur event, a lively gallery walk and street party. But the city has also experienced the second-highest rent increases in the country. As part of our Boomtown series, we talk with members of the local arts community about the impact they’re seeing: economically, artistically and beyond. They will join us for a live broadcast from the Oakland Museum of California, which is currently featuring a “Who is Oakland?” art exhibit, highlighting the city’s diversity.

VIDEO: Artists Seeking Social Change Bring the Public into the Picture


Images of the 'Who is Oakland Exhibit?'

Photos courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California




Chris Johnson, photographer
Anyka Barber, owner of the Betti Ono Gallery
Cristy Johnston-Limon, executive director of Destiny Arts Center
Sarah Sexton, founder of Oaktown Indie Mayhem Productions
Trevor Parham, founder and director of Oakstop

  • Guest

    Things are bad all over: They even sold Sesame Street to the real estate speculators:

  • trite

    The default position for putting money into the coffers of the city is the parcel tax. This is not a feasible solution, particularly when people who will not be impacted by the proposed increase will be voting on the issue.

    • jamiebronson

      I paid more than $12k in property taxes last year. If you want to contribute $12k out of your pocket that would be tremendous.

      • trite

        Don’t understand your comment. Did you read mine through to the end? I am not advocating for the parcel tax.

        • jamiebronson

          I read your comment. My point was if you want to eliminate the parcel tax where is the money coming from?

          • trite

            Perhaps a city tax based on income would be less contentious and more equitable.

  • Hyphelonious Kambone

    Oakland is full of rich trust fund kids pretending to be poor, whining about gentrification and being the first wave of that gentrification.

    • bossandnova

      Not true. What neighborhoods have you visited in Oakland anyway? Not many, it seems. Oakland is still a city full of ordinary working people, artists and academics from Cal. Our diversity needs to be preserved and sustained. But you’re right; the young lady on the air who complained about gentrification in West Oakland gave her bona fides as having lived in Oakland FIVE WHOLE YEARS. Don’t know if she has a trust fund, but is clearly able to still afford her rent, while many arts providers are being displaced, because of a kindly landlord. Warning: in gentrification, landlords change…We can’t rely on one landlord’s kindness to sustain our current and growing creative community. We need policies in place to allow the arts to continue to thrive.

  • De Blo

    The main problems in Oakland, as in San Francisco, are rent control and other unfair
    anti-homeowner laws that make it difficult to expel problem tenants and
    to rent out vacant homes. Homeowners cannot improve their properties
    because rent control and unfair anti-eviction rules make it impossible
    to raise rents to fair levels. Tenants, who do not contribute to
    communities, have all the power. Landlords and other homeowners, who
    invest in and improve communities, do not have the ability to afford to
    improve the City because rent control and anti-eviction laws prevent the
    ability to make home and neighborhood improvements. We need to pass
    laws that say any homeowner can evict any tenant as long as a one month
    notice is given and that any landlord can charge any level of rent that
    the market supports and can pass on the costs of home improvements and
    tax increases to tenants.

    • Noelle

      Hey not all tenants are moochers! Even more people can’t afford to buy houses so we have to live peacefully, renters and homeowners.

    • Whamadoodle

      “Tenants, who do not contribute to communities”? Oh, that’s funny… so they don’t shop, guard against crime for their neighbors, or do community and beach cleanup projects? Funny–I’ve seen people who call themselves “tenants” do all those things every day, but from what you say, I guess they were actually all homeowners who were lying about that fact.

  • bossandnova

    Oakland Art Murmur is the association of (as of this date) 45 local art galleries that created the entire First Fridays phenomenon that has transformed Oakland’s image as center for the arts. They have improved neighborhoods and created community, as well as ushering in a new era of economic development, inspiring the First Fridays street festival on Telegraph Ave and “Art Murmur” events at non-associated spaces all over town.

    But this successful arts renaissance is a house of cards; in order to display and sell the work of local artists, these galleries (local small businesses) need to earn enough revenue through sales and rentals to pay their own gallery rents. It is ironic that by improving their neighborhoods, they are sowing the seeds of their own destruction. When gallery rents increase and they become displaced, they can no longer exhibit the work of Oakland artists, who are in turn also displaced. This is a conundrum.

    San Francisco is losing the creativity battle; Oakland has a unique opportunity to become a national leader in developing a model Arts Policy that seeks to preserve and sustain its arts scene rather than just using art to improved blighted areas in preparation for market rate development.

  • gez devlin

    Pot-Hole Parties.
    From systemic syphilis we get creative use of our bombed out
    boulevards, more hood-grit.

    The urban campfire is back! Parties have been springin’ up in
    pot-holes. Abandoned depressions are so deep & endemic to flatland barrios
    that hdz have been fillin’ em up wid kindlin’, torchin da trash, and sharin’
    Hennessy & rappin’ around da burnin’ hole. Just like we used to up in da
    cave, out in yon parc, but now we can do it safely, right in front of our own
    shack by West Mac.

    Alas, some of these pot-ho pardies are memorials, tributes
    to those who fell in da hole and never got up.

    I hear on the curb that Oak has more pot holes than people,
    ain’t no finer place to pardee…

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