CAST – Community Arts Stabilization Trust

Vital Arts



Honoring the victims of the Ghost Ship fire by ensuring access to affordable, safe housing, work, and performance spaces for Bay Area artists




Vital Arts emerged from discussions between Edwin Bernbaum, Beth Jay and Thomas Dolan – long time friends who galvanized around Ed’s loss of his son in the Ghost Ship fire tragedy in Oakland. Vital Arts is fiscally sponsored and operationally supported by Community Arts Stabilization Trust.


Vital Arts believes in a world in which everyone understands that groundbreaking arts and culture are essential for the continued health and vitality of society at large. We are actively working to bring this about by successfully implementing community-based projects to meet the needs of low and moderate-income artists in the Bay Area, and by ensuring that these projects serve as high profile, innovative models that are scalable and can be replicated nationally and internationally. The Ghost Ship fire in Oakland highlights the tragic way rising rents and housing costs in the Bay Area have driven out innovative artists or forced them into increasingly dangerous live-work spaces and performance venues.







To maintain the diversity and vibrancy of the San Francisco Bay Area by ensuring that artists of all kinds can continue to live and work in the region, thereby preserving the Bay Area’s position as a major center for arts and culture.

To develop innovative programs to assist with the creation and maintenance of sustainable, long-term affordable live-work spaces and performance venues through funding, project creation and implementation, and advocacy for artists.







  • Identify currently occupied properties in need of safety improvements and/or at risk of displacement.
  • Advocate for code reform to encourage safety improvements that provide an affordable path to legality and for regulations that allow events to go longer hours or to otherwise meet the needs of the artist.
  • Work with groups of artists and performers who are seeking safe, long-term affordable space.


      • Investment in existing occupied properties
      • Property acquisition
      • Master leasing
      • Low-Interest loans
      • Building individual/organizational capacity




Advocate for artists providing legal, entrepreneurial and real estate assistance


Improve and stabilize existing rentals & artist collectives:

      • Provide safety and code improvements
      • Negotiate with landlords
      • Provide legal status assistance
      • Provide purchase assistance

      • Purchase and develop 10,000-30,000 sq ft – of artist live/work space
      • Create a safe, legal performance space with up to a 200 person capacity – can be part of existing or acquired project


Vital Arts is fiscally sponsored by the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) a nonprofit real estate development and holding company that purchases and leases space for the exclusive use of arts organizations. CAST is providing financial and administrative support as well as programmatic and real estate development expertise to allow Vital Arts leadership to focus on fundraising, research/advocacy, project selection and program development.



For more information contact: Owen Levin, Director of Finance and Operations,
CAST 415.556.9888 ext 102,