Safer DIY Spaces has been trying to preserve infrastructure and hold space for community organizing since 2012. Part of the work is trying to buy buildings and part is trying to get orgs eligible to apply for grants. The event that was taking place at Ghost Ship the night of the fire had asked to use Omni Commons (which is up to code) as a venue, but they were rejected because the city had already tried to shut Omni down three times and Omni was worried about noise complaints from the neighbors and how long the show would go.
Nia King's Blog
Peacock Rebellion is based out of the Liberate 23rd Ave building. They bring together queer and trans people of color to produce comedy, dance, and storytelling events based on themes such as the nonprofit industrial complex, healing, and fighting displacement. They utilize these cultural events to build community power, and try to mobilize and their audience and community members to fight for queer and trans people of color, particularly trans women and trans femmes of color. For example, when Peacock performer Davia Spain was arrested for defending herself, Peacock worked with TGI Justice Project to get her out of jail and have the charges dropped.
The After Ghost Ship panel was organized by Claudia Leung, outgoing senior program associate at the San Francisco Arts Commission. She began the panel by giving a shout out to Nadia Elokdah (Deputy Director at Grantmakers in the Arts) for all her hard work moving the conference at the last minute. The conference was originally set to take place at the Oakland Marriott, but since Marriott workers are on strike nation-wide, the conference had to be moved at the eleventh hour. Claudia then introduced the panelists: Katherin Canton of Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition and Emerging Arts Professionals SF/Bay Area, David Keenan of DIY Safer Spaces, Devi Peacock of Peacock Rebellion and the Liberate 23rd Ave Collective, Eric Arnold of the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition and Black Arts Movement District Community Development Corporation and moderator, journalist Chris Zaldua.
I had the privilege of attending GIA’s Preconference After Ghost Ship: Supporting Artist-led Solutions to Equitable and Accessible Space Development on Sunday, October 21. While I am not an Oakland native, I have been living here ten years and feel increasingly protective of the city. Living in a rapidly gentrifying city makes you weary of change and suspicious of newcomers. At first, I didn’t really understand why GIA chose Oakland as the site for this conference on “Race, Space, and Place.” Oakland really is a unique place; unique because of its diversity, radical political history, and extremely high concentration of artists. What lessons could Oakland teach other cities when there’s no-one-size-fits-all approach to stopping displacement?