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Reflecting on the year

In a tumultuous year, perhaps something that many of us share is the particularly valuable role that art has played in our lives in 2020. When we look back on this period, we will certainly remember its challenges, and what nourished us as we navigated them.

Artists are among the most impacted by this year’s hardships. Beyond their livelihoods vanishing overnight, they’re also having to reimagine what their craft looks like for the near and far future and where it can take place. CAST works hard to develop permanent affordable workspace and housing to keep artists in our neighborhoods. 

While the constraints due to COVID-19 have made for many limitations, in other instances, it has provided CAST with new opportunities. In October, we launched Dreaming Spaces, an initiative centered around the question posed by Elena Serrano: 

“How might artists reimagine cultural spaces and dream together about gathering safely, given Covid-19, for now and for the future?”

By engaging designers, city planners, and public health experts to meet with artists and cultural organizations, we facilitated the discussion and generation of design solutions for our communities to safely gather in spaces free from disease, oppression, and violence.

This fall, we are working with a new body of artists and cultural workers as part of the Cultural Space Ambassadors network joined by Cultural Strategists Elena Serrano and Chi Chi Okonmah. The CSAs are a network of artists and cultural workers instrumental in influencing how cultural space is preserved, created, and reimagined in Oakland.

Our third project, Geneva Car Barn in the Excelsior neighborhood, opened this fall as a community learning center partnered with Performing Arts Workshop. Our fourth project, CAST’s first affordable multi-tenant project at 447 Minna, is in construction and is scheduled to open in fall 2021.

Lastly, we look forward to continuing to work with the East Oakland Black Cultural Zone Collaborative and the Black Cultural Zone Community Development Corporation and supporting their work to center Black Arts and Culture and keep space for Black and East Oakland businesses and residents.    

As we reflect back on the year and look forward to next, it is with the support of our community that our mission is able to come to life, even in these extraordinary times. To our partners and supporters, thank you–we couldn’t do this without you.

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