We the Artists of the Bay Area (WABA) is an inclusive organization of artists, tenants, and community activists dedicated to working with city officials to ensure safe, long-term spaces for the creative community in Oakland, the larger Bay Area, and throughout the United States. WABA was formed in response to the Ghost Ship tragedy that occurred December 2, 2016, and has quickly become one of the largest self-organized coalitions of creative professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area.
WABA is working with Oakland city officials and community organizations on immediate safety measures for DIY housing and work spaces. Creative spaces are vital to the culture of Oakland and the larger Bay Area, and we aim to ensure that the creative community will always have a home here.
Requests for Assistance & Volunteer Forms
Making Creative Spaces Safe
Many in the creative community — makers, inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, performers, musicians, and artists — choose to live or work in creative spaces because of the inspiration and skill sharing that living in a community provides. The intense rental market also is a driving force, making artists share space out of economic necessity. For these communities to thrive, it is critical for their spaces to be safe. We are working with communities and arts organizations around the Bay, along with Oakland city officials, to implement fire safety measures in creative spaces such as sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and exit signage.
The Bay Area’s creative spaces are home to people of all stripes, including marginalized communities such as people of color and LGBTQ. These spaces are integral to the creative lifeblood of the Bay Area — many of which serve as cost effective solutions to the housing market, as both homes and work spaces for creative entrepreneurs and small businesses. It is imperative that, as we bring these spaces into compliance with law, we craft solutions to prevent tenant displacement and keep rents affordable.
Fostering an Open Dialogue
The fear that has gripped artists and property owners after the tragedy is understandable, but for us to solve the problems facing the art community we need to overcome these fears and work together. We are advocating for measures that will allow owners and occupants to come forward without fear of penalty, so that they can ensure the safety of their buildings and work with the city to ensure their long-term viability.