2018 Grantmakers in the Arts Conference

Grantmakers in the Arts is pleased to have three bloggers covering the 2018 Conference in Oakland. Lara Davis (Seattle Office of Arts & Culture), Tram Nguyen (author, editor, and advocate for just and equitable policy), and Nia King (author, producer, cartoonist, podcaster, and public speaker), will be posting their comments and reactions beginning Sunday, October 21. We hope you enjoy their observations and that you join this conversation.

October 27, 2018 by Nia King
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. Read More...
October 27, 2018 by Nia King
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. Read More...
October 27, 2018 by Nia King
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. Read More...
October 27, 2018 by Nia King
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? Read More...
October 26, 2018 by Lara Davis
I got up at 6:00 AM on the final day of the conference to attend a 7:30 AM session (ouch!) on Impact Investing in the Creative Economy.  For most of us in the room, impacting investing was a newer concept. We were eager to learn about the diversity of resources available to build and sustain art-making endeavors through both philanthropic and investment opportunities. Read More...
October 25, 2018 by Tram Nguyen
My first GIA conference is over, and I am so glad for the opportunity to be part of this one, focused on Race, Space, and Place, taking place in my adopted hometown of Oakland, California. Overwhelmingly, what I’ve taken away is a sense of optimism and excitement at the new discovery (for me) of such a vibrant and dynamic world of arts and culture strategists, funders, creators, workers, wonks, and change agents committed to social justice. I’ve been poring over Oakland’s Cultural Development Plan in my spare time since the conference, and found its guiding vision to be so profound: Equity is the driving force. Culture is the frame. Belonging is the goal. Read More...
October 24, 2018 by Lara Davis
Today’s post focuses primarily on young people and the arts, and artists, with a little bit of, well, everything that’s inspiring me. First, I want to take a moment to share some sage advice I received at breakfast as I was making choices about what sessions to attend. There’s not always congruence between what I should attend based on the work I do, and what I may want to attend. In the end, I decide to lean into inspiration, trusting what moves me. I thank Dr. Anh Thang Dao-Shah (Senior Racial Equity and Policy Analyst, San Francisco Arts Commission) for reminding me to: Read More...
October 23, 2018 by Lara Davis
Well, I’m not actually in Oakland at the moment but am writing this blog from the International House Library on the University of California, Berkeley campus where I’m staying as a guest in the Ambassador Suite. That’s right, friends. I went to the 2018 GIA Conference in Oakland and ended up reliving my college days at a school I would love to have attended. My first visit to UC Berkley was in 2011, accompanying the Seattle Youth Speaks team to Brave New Voices, the annual youth international poetry slam competition – a monumental event filled with creative expression, arts, education, civic discourse and social justice pedagogy. During that trip, I witnessed Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense speak on campus to an eager intergenerational crowd of students, artists and community. Read More...
October 22, 2018 by Tram Nguyen
Sitting here in the second half of the day at the preconference session for “Culture at the Intersection of Race, Space, and Place,” my overriding takeaway is about the transformative power of the arts. Let me explain what I mean by that. It seems like everywhere you turn these days in the social justice/progressive nonprofit world, the catch phrase is “transformative not transactional change.” Read More...
October 21, 2018 by Tram Nguyen
The preconference session on “Culture at the Intersection of Race, Space and Place” has my worlds colliding this Sunday morning in downtown Oakland. In the spirit of storytelling—as panelists Roberto Bedoya and Favianna Rodriguez modeled—I am both a longtime Oakland resident, a current local government employee (in the county public health department), and a prior chronicler of race, space and place as a journalist at ColorLines.com. Read More...