We watched with horror and deep sadness this weekend as news emerged about the deadly warehouse fire at an Oakland artists’ collective a few miles from our main office. Our heartfelt support and condolences go out to the victims, their loved ones, and the Oakland community as a whole. We have the deepest appreciation for the first responders, who put their lives on the line and, even now, directly face the trauma of going through the site.
Artists challenge our assumptions; offer new ways of looking at the world; create resilience in the face of oppression; provide safe spaces for creativity and connection; and brighten our city. In recent years especially, many low-income Oaklanders, including artists, have been pushed out of their homes and workspaces by gentrification and displacement. We echo Mayor Libby Schaaf's call to prioritize the creation of "safe, vibrant spaces for Oakland's artist community." We encourage those who can to support this community by donating to a fire relief fund for surviving victims and families of the deceased, organized by Gray Area Foundation for the Arts.