Solidarity Economy in Action for Black Cultural Cooperative in Oakland

Zakiya Harris is in the process of group of co-founding BlacSpace Cooperative, organizations led by Black women in Oakland working to create a business development ecosystem to uplift the city's Black arts community. Harris - a cultural architect who grew up in East Oakland and has worked for more than two decades on projects that explore the intersections of art, activism, and entrepreneurship - says, "We, as a collective community, recognized that we were at a critical moment, and we could leverage the opportunity of the pandemic and the uprising toward a cultural reset."

In response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the coinciding global uprising following George Floyd's murder, BlacSpace Cooperative, is in its early stages. "There is a growing conversation nationally around the importance of reallocating funding to the artists and culture-bearers who are oftentimes overlooked, but who are at the cutting edge of cultural and economic innovation-these include groups like BIPOC, trans people, queer people, strippers and single moms," reports April M. Short in Big News As detailed in the 2021 Grantmakers in the Arts' report, Solidarity Not Charity: Arts & Culture Grantmaking in the Solidarity Economy, "artists are very often the source of local solutions to the large-scale problems that many people face today-and that many more will face in the future."

Harris says she allotted funds from work with Alameda County's Arts Web (which Community Vision, SVCreates and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation joined forces to develop) into founding the cooperative. BlacSpace has also received funding through the Center for Cultural Innovation and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA)/Culture Bank. In the fall of 2021, the project transitioned into fiscal sponsorship with Haven of Hope, a Black-led fiscal organization led by Darcelle Lahr.

Read Zakiya Harris' interview with April M. Short here.