Investing in the Creative Economy

Lara Davis reports from day 2 and day 3 of the Oakland conference:

I got up at 6:00 AM on the final day of the conference to attend a 7:30 AM session (ouch!) on Impact Investing in the Creative Economy. For most of us in the room, impacting investing was a newer concept. We were eager to learn about the diversity of resources available to build and sustain art-making endeavors through both philanthropic and investment opportunities.

I’d spent the previous day in a session at the Betti Ono Gallery organized by Alexa Hall (program fellow, Performing Arts, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) focused on Oakland Arts Collectives: Resource sharing and innovation. The panel included creative entrepreneurs who run incubators for artists and the community in Oakland. These business owners/executive directors spoke of Oakland as a hub for homegrown locals, and a space that welcomes newcomers, artists that have been displaced from other cities. From creating co-working spaces at that center creativity and technology to running and arts center featuring artist work and community programs, one panelist commented, “I am an artist whose practice is curation. A reminder to be unapologetically Black with joy,” and, “Oakland’s arts ecology is spiritual. It’s an undertone that we don’t always speak to” but is a central element to how they show up and engage. They do this as non-profit organizations, and as hybrid model LLC and Certified B Corporations.

Panelists shared that such hybrid models can provide the ability to be nimble – allowing for revenue generation, and, in the case of having a non-profit wing, opportunities for resources that support education and community programming, offering a clear need for maintaining philanthropic partnerships.

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