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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *