2022: The Bay Area

Art, Culture, and Equity in the Age of COVID

May 24 - June 1

Arts Management students with Natalia Mount in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

Arts management students with Natalia Mount in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

The immersion into the Bay Area focused on Oakland’s cultural and artistic life and the city’s grappling with social, cultural, and racial inequity. Unlike its neighbors, San Francisco and Berkeley, Oakland has only recently been discovered as a destination for arts and culture. In the public eye, the city is better known for its racial upheavals, as birthplace of the Black Panther Movement and for its high crime rate. Besides its best-known art venues and organizations - such as the Oakland Museum of California, AXIS Dance Company, and Paramount Theatre - Oakland is also known as breeding ground for artistic and cultural grass-roots initiatives such as the West Oakland Mural Project, the Oakland Theatre Project, and the now tragically famous make-shift art space Ghost Ship warehouse.

Our focus was shaped by two recent events: the 2018 release of the city’s Cultural Affairs Commission’s first cultural plan in 30 years, "Belonging in Oakland: A Cultural Development Plan;” and the city’s art institutions’ responses to COVID-19. The new cultural plan set the tone for an equity-focused, community-oriented approach. Triggered by the challenges imposed by COVID, The Oakland Museum set an inspiring example in rethinking how they operate, starting from the premise that they need to disrupt traditional business practices.

Besides talking to the heads behind these measures and inquiring into the impact and long-term effects of such measures, we visited arts initiatives and artist initiated projects on both sides of the Bay that reflect the Bay Area’s vibrant answers to demands for equity and social justice. Students conversed with policymakers, artists, cultural workers, and administrators to get a sense of the Bay Area’s art and culture as it reemerges from the pandemic in the age of racial reckoning.

From a student

Meeting the innovative, thoughtful leaders and cultural workers in Oakland changed my worldview- I now look for modes of belonging and placemaking in my hometown, in Buffalo, and in all arts organizations. I have a greater understanding of what is possible.

-Maggie Kilada ('24)


May 24:

May 25:

May 26:

  • Conversation with Roberto Bedoya (Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Oakland)
  • Conversation with Colin Mandlin and Ari Powell (Managing Director and Director of Patron Experience, Oakland Theatre Project)
  • Conversation with Sunshine Deffner (Associate Managing Director, Berkeley Repertory Theatre)
  • Excursion: Octet at Berkeley Rep

May 27:

  • Site visit and conversation with Jilchristina Vest at the West Oakland Mural Project (Mini Museum @ the Mural)
  • Site visit and conversation with Lori Fogarty (CEO and Director) and Peggy Monahan (Director of Content Development) at the Oakland Museum of California
  • Visit with artist Chris Johnson to explore his work "Question Bridge"
  • Excursion: Off the Grid: Food Truck Extravaganza @ Fort Mason

May 28:

  • Panel: Equity and Artistic Labor (moderated by Dr. Miriam Paeslack with Dana King (artist), Alistair Monroe (Cultural Arts Producer and Manager, Oakland Cannery Collective), and Ayodele Nzinga (Poet Laureate, City of Oakland)
  • Site visit and conversation with Emma Spertus (Founder Director, Real Time & Space)
  • Site visit and conversation with Valerie Imus (SOEX)
  • Site visits to The David Ireland House, Minnesota Street Project, and the murals at Clairon and Balmy Alleys.

May 29:

May 30:

May 31:

June 1:

  • Student presentations
  • Creative Growth: Facing our Future Together - Disability Justice Panels
  • Excursion: Steven Banks and Xak Bjerken @ SF Symphony