not on my watch

For months now I’ve had feeling that the City of Oakland’s 2005-2007 budget preparations were going to pull the rug, and the floor, and the earth below out from under Oakland Arts. Staff seemed to carry the calm of the Routinely Doomed, but it wasn’t until Thursday night a note came in over the transom:

Hey kids –
Nothing is set yet, but due to continued City deficit the Cultural Funding Program is being asked to propose a series of cuts to the grant programs.
We may suffer anywhere from a 10% to 50% plus cut to our fund allocation. That means we would have to either greatly reduce and/or eliminate some of our grant opportunities.
Proposals for reductions are due to the budget office next week. They’ll put things together for reports to council, etc., for debate and consideration over the next few months before permanent reductions are put to a final vote with council at the end of June/early July.
It may seem early, but now is the time to gather forces to keep funding for the arts if not intact, then with minimal reductions. I’m hoping you guys can help carry the torch and rally the forces. People can contact their councilmembers, attend council meetings to make open forum statements, lobby the mayor, etc.

I cast about like a flopping fish on Friday trying to get confirmation, sending out early warnings to the Spokes, Dan Fontes, a couple Commishees, Heather Tunis, who co-chairs the Oakland Arts Funding Advisory Committee, and Peter Brown, an artist with guts to whom I turn when when the issue, ostensibly about the arts, is actually about equity.

I mentioned to the Spokes that the Cultural Affairs Commission was finalizing its agenda for its Feb 2 Retreat, and there was talk of tabling the item to discuss the budget, and the role the Commissioners play (if any!) in its development and adoption. Some Spokes thought it might be a good idea to gather the outrage, bum rush the show on Feb 2 and demand the Commishees take the item up. This after Sanjiv reprimanded the Commission on Monday night for breaking Brown Act laws by conducting the retreat during the day, instead of the evenings and weekends when the public could reasonably be expected to have time to attend.

Established Spokes over at to take advantage of all the built-in networking and calendaring we’ll need to mount an effective advocacy campaign. If we proceed correctly, and then maybe not even then, the budget that the Mayor and City Administrator present to City Council in May won’t contain any cuts to the arts.


the difference between a proletariat and a proletarian

something more than a consonant.

I only mention it because in a post that I forwarded on behalf of Spokes of a Hub, Proletariat Bronze was called out as Proletarian Bronze. I hate misspelling band names almost as much as I hate hearing band names mispronounced by KALX DJs when they read the calendar listings.

But yes, Oakland Arts, it’s all up inside those references and here’s why:

Spokes of a Hub is convening again:

  • tuesday 25 may 2004 at 6pm
    at the new pro arts
    550 second st at clay
    oakland, california
    alliances, collaborations and advocacy
    a candid panel discussion with funders and collaborators

This is my first billing as a Moderator and I’m hoping it goes straight to my head. I’ll spend Sunday morning watching the news shows to hone my skills.

agenda for 5/19 cultural affairs commission

OK, so I blew it and did not let people know about the Oakland Cultural Affairs Commission meeting this past Monday. It happened to contain a tish-load of action items regarding public art commissions all over town and the approval of the cultural funding program package.

This is what I had to do:

  • recuse myself from the item that approved the review panel for the open proposals program because mocha has a open proposal in front of the open proposal review panel.
  • recuse myself again from the item that approved the cultural funding program recommendations for the cultural funding program because mocha has two recommendations for funding inside of that.

Recusing is fun. Before the item came up I just left my seat and walked out of the room, sitting on the steps in the City Hall rotunda, studying just how Doric the interior is. When I say Doric, I mean Dull. The 70s Disco Ball chandelier is still stunning, however, and I had a magical moment of staring at it while it was turned on for the evening. How Times Square.

Dan Fontes came out on his cell phone attempting to help caller Randolph Belle deal with a flat tire. I think Randy asked Dan where he was, and Dan said: commission meeting. Then in a few seconds he said: No, just the same old shit. That’s when I put my head in my hands.

Here’s the tricky part: When I left the room the Commission momentarily lost its quorum. So it couldn’t vote on the action items I was conflicted about. So I might as well go back in, I thought. But then it would gain a quorum and take up the action item. But I had a conflict with that action item. So I had better stay put and not listen to Dan.

I looked up at the ceiling and squinted: perhaps the answer was hanging there, or I could pretend it was. Many many many moments passed. I can’t tell you exactly how many. It was as if much weed had been smoked, and the simplest decision about the order of events was lost to me forever, due to a dank, bureaucratic overlay. The door to the chamber opened and a big wafting aroma of Kafka bloomed out the portal.

It’s official: I’m Part Of The Problem.

Agenda for 4/19 Cultural Affairs Commission

Cultural Affairs Commission
Regular Meeting
Monday, April 19, 2004
5:30 – 7:30pm
City Council Chambers
Oakland City Hall – One Frank Ogawa Plaza, 3rd Floor

  1. Call to Order / Determination of Quorum
  2. Open Forum
  3. Action Item – Approval of minutes from: March 15, 2004
  4. Oral Report – Chair
  5. Oral Report – Department Director / Staff
  6. Oral Report – Amy Kweskin re: 6 Women with an Idea for Sustaining Oakland’s Arts & Culture
  7. Agenda Building
    Next CAC meeting – Monday, May 17, 2004 5:30 – 7:30pm, City Council Chambers
  8. Announcements
    Cultural Affairs Commissioners invite all interested to monthly post-meeting discussion and socializing at Cafe Van Kleef Contemporary Art Galley located at 1621 Telegraph Aven, two blocks from City Hall.
  9. Adjourn
  10. Note: Action Items will become Informational Reports if a quorum is not established.

    Whoa Baby!

    First off: check back here in a few days for Six Women and an Idea. Yes, I’m involved and I’m also in production with the students at the San Francisco School of the Arts. Hello. Kids First, People.

    Second off: Agenda Building. In a world gone mad (you know the kind, where you are the 6th largest economy in the world and ranking dead last in per capita arts funding), what the helly hell hell would you want your local arts commission to do? Tell me.

    Third off: Socializing at Cafe Van Kleef. I caught a nearby neighborhood gallery owner explaining Van Kleef’s as a space that has been there for thirty years with its proprietor and his predilictions, but only recently opened its doors to the public. Most times it seems that everyone inside is having a good time, in that Caligula kinda way. As a first step to making the Commission accessible to Oakland’s arts community, we may have already sprained something.

    Nothing that can’t be cured by a restorative at Mama Buzz, of course.

everyday i feel killed by politicians

Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2004 13:48:40 -0700
To: Suki O’Kane
From: Hugh Livingston
Subject: Re: Artship in SF?
Suki, The word is that the Nat’l Historic Preservation Society jumped in and got an injunction to hold off shipping the boat to China, so it was temporarily put up at Mare Island. It is not accessible and nobody thinks it will last long. Slobodan is confused as to why they didn’t team up with ARTSHIP Foundation earlier, but that is apparently how they work. Meanwhile, the ARTSHIP Foundation, which existed before the Golden Bear, continues to exist. They receive grants, do public works, mediation, the Windows, etc. Slobodan believes that two loose associates came and made such an announcement at the committee meeting, which may have been misinterpreted. They only wanted to say everybody was still alive and making art, not to be killed by politicians.

Ai yi yi: another great band name.

If it is true that the Artship is not a ship, but a coalition of creative programming, then I am satisfied, much in the way I am satisfied that P-Funk’s Mother Ship is not a ship, although I heard recently the Mother Ship Is Returning.

Slobodan Dan Paich and George Clinton would make a remarkable pair.

hey, it worked for altrea!

Out of the blue, I received an email from Nancy Nadel’s office inviting me to come to a community meeting to discuss a possible name change for the Alice Arts Center.

Naturally, it conflicts with the Cultural Affairs Commission Meeting, which is this:

  • Monday, March 19, 2004
    City Hall Council Chambers
    1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
    Oakland, California
  • apparently it streams or you can find watch it on cable television (KTOP)
  • no agenda received yet, or perhaps I’m backlogged

But it would be ideal to clone oneself and go to this:

  • Monday, April 19, 2004
    6:30 to 8pm
    Alice Arts Center
    1428 Alice Street
    Conference Room A
  • Please come to the Alice Arts Center to discuss the idea to possibly changing the name of the center to honor the memory of Malonga Casquelourd.
  • For more information, please contact the Office of Councilmember Nancy J. Nadel at 510-238-7032,
    via email at, or write

and that.

call for proposals: city of oakland public art program

From: “Babcock, Roberta”
Subject: FW: Open Proposals RFP-City of Oakland
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 19:27:44 -0800

The Public Art Program has announced an Open Proposals call for artists. We
are accepting proposals from artists, community organizations and
neighborhood groups for the creation of public art projects throughout
Oakland. For full announcement go to web page
under call for artists/ artists opportunities.

Proposal deadline: Friday April 30, 2004

Roberta Babcock
Acting Public ARt Coord.
Cultural Arts and Marketing Dept
City of Oakland

I think it’s tidal

You are invited to help create a vision for sustaining Oakland’s vibrant arts and culture.

Gather around the table on March 29 from 6:45-8:15pm at
Arts First Oakland
at First Congregational Church of Oakland
2501 Harrison St at 27th Street in the Gallery. Room 20.
Light reception at 6:45pm.

See agenda below.

We are Six Women with an Idea:
Raissa De La Rosa
Amy Kweskin
Eve Lindi
Suki O’Kane
Stephanie JT Russell
Elena Serrano

Our Goals:
1) Bring together arts and culture workers and introduce our vision and mission for alliance and
2) Encourage networking among participants.
3) Discuss a shared vision for vibrant and sustainable arts and culture in Oakland.
4) Create buzz – pass this email on to 5 more people!

Host and Facilitator Eve Lindi of Arts First Oakland

RSVP to Amy Kweskin at
Eve Lindi at 510-444-8511 x15

If you can’t attend let us know if you want to be on the email list.

6:45–7:05-People arrive, sign in, network, nibble,
share marketing collateral (tables in atrium)

7:05–7:15-Welcome, host introductions, and purpose of
meeting (Eve facilitator, Amy, Elena, Suki, Stephanie)

7:15–7:25-Introductions: name & organization

7:25–7:30-Introduce Small Group Discussion Questions:
–What is a collaboration – what does it mean to be an
–If arts service organizations, funders, business
partners, etc. were in the room with us right now,
what would we say to them about the unique strengths
and challenges of Oakland‚s arts and cultural
–Looking at the following areas of interest, what can
we do better in collaboration (vs. within our own
existing organizations)? What differences would an
alliance make?

1) Professional Development & Learning

2) Board Development

3) Resource Development
–Technical (legal, fiscal, technology, skills bank,
marketing & PR)

4) Public & Inter-Org Communication
–Audience development – demographics, geographic
–Media support

5) Others?

7:30–7:50 Small Group Discussion

7:50–8:00 Re-gather and report back on areas
identified for collaboration

8:00–8:05 Next Steps – Announce next gathering in May
at Pro Arts and explain follow-up survey

8:05–8:10 Brief Evaluation (one-word feeling)

We look forward to seeing you there!


The new commissioner terms don’t start until May 8, 2003, a Saturday.

I’m taking Paul Garrison’s place, which he left in May of 2003.

So I rolled over to the Commission meeting on February 23 on a tip from Raissa to see what was up.

Newly appointed Commissioner Michael Liener was there, operating on the same instincts. Michael’s taking Harold Lawrence’s place. After Commission Hyland Baron walked us around the edges of the dais for introductions, we sat together in the City Council gallery and watched another quorum fail to establish, on one level, and watched a portion of Oakland’s history unfold before us, on another.

    Slobodan is gone, after years of always being there, somewhere, somehow, remaining above water much like his Artship in perpetually uncertain waters. The Artship has been sold for scrap and with it the street report that Slobodan has moved out of Oakland. I’ve been running into Slobodan on Oakland streets for over 10 years, and am quite accustomed to long, random intervals between each meeting. This absence struck me more as heartbreak, and I realized I’m going to have to learn the story in its entirety.
    Dennis Power, was plucked from a Commissioner’s seat when he was appointed Director of the Cultural Arts portion of Oakland’s Cultural Arts and Marketing in the new fiscal year, then plunked down immediately to the left in the City Staff seat. Dennis is the Executive Director of the Oakland Museum of California. It crosses my mind to research examples of combined local arts agencies and collecting museums, and I will, but the idea makes my head hurt. I’d rather just interview Dennis here.
    Devin Satterfield just took Dennis’ place. I think that’s really cool.
    This seems a hybrid of musical chairs and eerie ghost town, let’s just say it. I can’t immediately find a rational perspective on it. Under the disco ball in the City Hall Rotunda, I’m asking you how you know anyone is ever really here, after all, you know, acknowledging that elephant in the room with the big “Maybe We Don’t Exist” message painted on its side?
    The Cultural Arts website lists seven vacancies but the City Clerk’s seems all full up.
    Only one citizen came to watch these proceedings.