ARTISTS AND ALLIES RALLY TO PRESERVE BAY AREA CREATIVE SPACES
Newly formed organization seeks to create working model for the creative community and local authorities, adoptable by other municipalities
OAKLAND, CA, Dec. 12, 2016 — In response to the Dec. 2 Ghost Ship tragedy, a new organization has been formed to build a coalition between a vast network of artists and established organizations, community leaders, activists, policy makers and specialists. We the Artists of the Bay Area (WABA) seeks to facilitate conversations between the creative community and the broader community, advocate on behalf of creative spaces, provide access to resources, and educate the creative community about maintaining safe live/work, studio and event spaces.
The creative community is made up of makers, entrepreneurs, artists, innovators, hackers, inventors, technologists and performers. The Bay Area’s history reflects their contributions in driving innovation and creativity that underpins economic and cultural vitality.
“Prior to last week’s tragedy, the City of Oakland was already taking steps in the right direction to support the creative community,” said Lara Edge, WABA leadership member, business owner and tenant of American Steel Studios in Oakland. “WABA wants to continue and expand that dialogue, influencing policy to support the creative community, and finding immediate solutions for building owners and disenfranchised communities in need of affordable and safe spaces in the short and long term.”
Over the course of just two days, WABA garnered more than 11,000 signatures in support of these efforts, and the list of signatories continues to grow. WABA representatives are actively reaching out to existing local advocacy groups, seeking to work with those who share the goal of sustaining creative spaces through sensible, practical, and legal solutions.
“No one wants to live or work in a dangerous space. In Oakland and urban centers across the country, the creative community has been forced to do just that,” said Liana Sananda, WABA leadership member and community organizer. “Through the coalition we are building, WABA seeks to address the myriad social, political and economic issues that have driven the creative community and other marginalized groups to eke out an existence in unsafe spaces, and to offer them a better way forward.”
WABA is addressing the immediate needs of the creative community by acting as an umbrella organization that unites the many efforts underway with people’s overwhelming desire to help. The WABA team is made up of more than 50 volunteers and more than a dozen working groups collaborating on a concerted effort to identify the problems, organize resources and skills, and provide support to the creative community.
Though saddled with profound grief for the victims of this horrific tragedy, the WABA team is actively working to affect positive change in hopes of honoring the lives of those who perished, so that some good may come of this calamity.
To view the original statement that garnered 11,000 signatures, or to add your name to the growing list of people voicing their support for safe spaces for the creative community, visit www.artistsofthebay.org/sign-petition. WABA will be announcing opportunities to get involved on its website www.artistsofthebay.org and on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wetheartists.
For anyone in immediate need, or wishing to offer services, please visit:
Help Ghost Ship: www.helpghostship.com
Gray Area Foundation for the Arts: http://grayarea.org/initiative/fire-relief-fund/