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January 29, 2005



Art Troops:

It seems to me that there is an opportunity to kill...or enliven...two birds with one stone. If the city of Oakland is seeking to cut funding for arts in general, as well as in school/afterschool programs in Oakland, perhaps this is a way to make the artist population in Oakland more vital. We might consider starting a volunteer organization that links Oakland artists with school/afterschool programs, so that the people who are teaching the kids (who are otherwise loosing their access to art programs and therefore a major element of learning) are local artists. Therefore, we make more of a positive contribution to the community directly, hence making ourselves more irreplaceable (as has been recently been suggested by one of the Oakland council members trying to replace large Oakland art studio spaces with green businesses) as well as turning kids onto art in one of the most innovative forums in which art (and BIG art) is currently being created.

I know M. Sturtz tried to do this initially at the Crucible in Berkeley and that he had troubles with the city, but Oakland seems to have greater need and lesser restrictions than the Republic of Berkeley (which loves to shoot itself in the foot to protect potential child labor shoe assemblers). Given that West Oakland youth are in such great need, having one of their better forms of expression (art) be further restricted leaves a big gap that we Oakland/West Oakland artists might be able to fulfill.

OBUGS is right next to American Steel, for instance. OBUGS (Oakland-based Urban Gardening) is already working in schools all over Oakland doing urban gardens. Maybe we could start a division of OBUGS that includes building art projects for these gardens and for school yards (hold the pickles, hold the Emolation) and jump on something that’s already strong and functioning. It wouldn’t kill us to move into a bigger sphere with our bad selves. Out of the desert, onto the school yard!

Just some thoughts which might be worth discussing


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