Arts and Culture Initiatives at Community Vision

a man painting a mural at the Bay Areal Mural Program

Community Vision is dedicated to community ownership of community assets that are critical to help build justice, power and wealth within BIPOC communities. 

Among those assets are long-term and permanent homes for community-rooted arts and culture organizations. These organizations play an important role and are often the anchors of the community:

  • Art is a powerful tool for self-expression, and for BIPOC communities, art allows for a way to reclaim their voices and tell stories and history on their own terms.
  • Art is an important vehicle for cultural creation, preservation and transmission. BIPOC communities have rich cultural traditions and contributions that are often suppressed or erased. Through the arts these traditions can be celebrated, built upon and passed onto future generations. 

  • Arts and culture have the power to inspire and unite communities as a means of advocacy, resistance and empowerment. 

  • In many communities, arts and culture can provide a pathway to entrepreneurship and are significant drivers of economic growth and job creation .

For more than 20 years, Community Vision has invested resources into community-rooted arts in a variety of ways including through grants, loans and consulting hours. 

Among the arts projects Community Vision has supported is the Black Liberation Walking Tour, a cultural asset mapping project that documents and shares the rich history of the Hoover-Durant neighborhood in Oakland. 

The award-winning walking tour re-imagines the concept of a public library from a contained space to one that is living and accessible in multiple forms. The tour includes visual, spoken and augmented reality narrative of the public art, businesses and historical landmarks in the neighborhood, preserving and honoring these spaces as a testament to the historic and ongoing contribution of Oakland’s Black community.

“This project is about building solidarity between newer residents and those from here. We will express and document our stories of belonging and of our culture so that people coming to West Oakland know the power this neighborhood holds. Creating a culture of belonging and inclusion is key because it challenges the weaponized narratives of gentrification. We are all living here now, and we need to build bridges not barriers,” said David Peters, Project Director for the Black Liberation Walking Tour.

Some additional highlights of Community Vision’s long history of partnership with community-led arts and culture projects include:

  • In 2022, providing back-office grant administration support to the African American Arts & Culture Complex to disburse $2 million in Dream Keeper Initiative funding to Black creatives;

  • From 2019 to2021, managing the Life Safety Fund as part of Community Vision’s revolving loan fund for tenant improvements that bring live/work artist spaces in Oakland up to code;

  • During COVID, bringing together all seven San Francisco Cultural Centers to launch and direct the SF Arts Reopening Fund, and also designing and implementing the SOMA Cultural Anchor Fund;

  • From 2018 to 2022, incubating and launching ArtsWeb, a pilot that demonstrated the power of community-based navigation for the arts and that led to the development of BlacSpace Cooperative in Oakland and the Gilroy Circulo in the South Bay;

  • In the early 2010s, incubating and launching Community Arts Stabilization Trust, and providing the New Markets Tax Credits for their first two projects (one of which, CounterPulse, just completed its tenant purchase after 10 years of fundraising);

  • Since 2010, providing third party-funded technical assistance to over 350 arts organizations working on real estate projects;

  • Since the mid 2000s, providing design, feasibility and funding support to Ninth Street Independent Film Center, one of San Francisco’s first nonprofit shared space centers for the arts;

  • Partnering with the Hewlett Foundation in the early 2000s to provide acquisition grants to performing arts organizations like Brava, Julia Morgan, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, Berkeley Society for the Preservation of Traditional Music, ODC, Eastside Arts Alliance, Vallejo Community Arts Foundation, SF Girls Chorus and Santa Rosa Symphony. We partnered again in 2022 to provide acquisition grants to Black Cultural Zone Community Development Corporation in East Oakland, East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative & House/Full of Blackwomen in West Oakland, Pajaro Valley Arts in Watsonville and Gamelan Sekar Jaya in Berkeley.

Other notable arts real estate projects Community Vision has supported include: 

  • The Imaginists (Santa Rosa).

  • Sol Collective, Verge Center for the Arts, Artes Americas and Livermore Shakespeare (Sacramento/Valley).

  • Destiny Arts Center, Youth Radio, Attitudinal Healing Connection/Center for ArtEsteem, Los Cenzontles and Luna Dance (East Bay).

  • EPACenter for the Arts, School of Arts and Culture, Local Color and MACLA (South Bay).

  • Galeria de la Raza, Youth Speaks, First Exposures, Chinatown Media & Arts Collaborative and KulArts (San Francisco).