The East Side Arts Alliance (ESAA) is a community arts center presenting low and no-cost live performances, conducting free music, dance, theater, and visual art after-school workshops for youth and 10,000 residents in Oakland’s Lower San Antonio/Fruitvale neighborhood. Founded by artist and activists from East Oakland, ESAA partnered in 2005 with Affordable Housing Associates to build the Eastside Cultural Center that includes a 120-seat performance space, a visual arts studio, a recording studio, a video-editing suite and administrative offices for ESAA in addition to 16 affordable housing units and two ground floor businesses, one of which is an early childhood educational center. Partial financing for the Center was provided to ESAA by the Hewlett Foundation in partnership with the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF). While $250,000 has been repaid to NCCLF, a further $626,000 is outstanding and efforts to raise funds to meet this obligation have stalled in significant part due to the recession and the freezing of support for capital projects by many funders. ESAA management has reduced its expenses this year but because repaying and servicing its debt to NCCLF will cost $75,000 this year, it is projected to create a $60,000 deficit on their $670,000 operating budget. Under the able leadership of founder/director Elena Serrano ESAA has delivered high quality programs to a very diverse population (35% Asian, 35% Latino, 20% African-American) and thus far operated without operational deficits despite the challenges presented by creating work for, and by, a very low income community (30% of neighborhood residents live below the poverty line). With a one-time grant the organization will repay its debt to NCCLF (saving $154,000 in interest), fulfill its obligation to buy-out its partner (a non profit affordable housing developer) and fully own its property, maintain a positive cash balance, and have the liquidity necessary to further invest in the community based arts programs which are critical to advancing our program’s objective to increase access to the arts for a historically underserved population. ($313,000 from Performing Arts; $313,00 from Special Projects; 100% project grant).
About the Grantee
2277 International Boulevard Post Office Box 17008, Oakland, CA, 94606, United States
Grants to this Grantee
for the 2020 50 Arts Commissions for dance and movement-based performance
In recognition of the Hewlett Foundation’s 50th anniversary, the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions initiative supports the creation and premiere of 50 exceptional works of performing arts. This grant will support EastSide Arts Alliance in developing and presenting "This Too Shall Pass," a multi-site, ritual dance theater performance by artist Amara Tabor-Smith. "This Too Shall Pass" will address the displacement, well-being, and sex trafficking of black women and girls in Oakland.
for general operating support
EastSide Arts Alliance is a collective of artists that has been dedicated to using art and culture to unify and empower residents of Oakland’s Lower San Antonio/Fruitvale neighborhood since 1999. The multidisciplinary arts organization produces and presents a wide range of low-cost or free classes, exhibitions, performances, and festivals that reach 16,000 people each year. Renewed funding will support the organization’s goals to maintain a wide range of cultural activities and its artist-in-residence program, strengthen its financial systems, and explore strategies for increasing earned income.