What we’ve been up to…
It has been just over two years since the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism joined with SOMArts Cultural Center as our fiscal-sponsor and raised our first dollar. The first year felt fast, the second went slower, and now we are positioning ourselves for more original programming in our third, starting with the first two parts of Black as Space: Reflecting on the Bay Bridge Shutdown, a four-part piece composed by Benjamin Jones and illustrated by photographer Brooke Anderson.
Our first year was a stunning debut. The Bay Area Society for Art & Activism came out strong with public events, Overnight Strange: A Vaudeville for the Displaced, Who We Be: Superpanel on Art, Protest, and Racial Justice, and a two-city parallel exhibition, The Dissidents, the Displaced and the Outliers. Together they set a high bar from year one. We were met with the broad community enthusiasm and considerable press coverage, all of which helped to grow our membership from zero to over one hundred individuals.
In our second year, we were invited to contribute to exceptional Bay Area institutions, SOMArts Cultural Center for Making a Scene: 50 Years of Alternative Bay Area Spaces, UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Art Gallery for (processing) – Bay Area Artists and the Archive, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for Christian L. Frock’s Take This Hammer: Art + Media Activism from the Bay Area. These partnerships furthered our mission, strengthened our community, and gave us time to carefully rebuild our behind the scenes systems to support our growth.
In our second year, we took our time to reflect upon success and how we want to continue to provide meaningful resources and opportunities for the Bay Area’s communities of artists and activists. Slowing down isn’t easy. We feel the urgency of the historical moment as well as the intense pace of a digitally driven local-global economy. When the world is racing forward, slowing down becomes an anathema to the times. But we did it anyway. What we do, we want to do well and with a long haul in mind. That means striking a sustainable balance between life and work and stepping outside of time now and again to build collaborative relationships that can transcend the present.
Dorothy Santos‘ commitment to our mission and to developing a collective structure to grow our Executive Staff has given this organization a real future. She is all grace, intelligence, and dedication and it’s no wonder everyone wants her time and 2¢. Josh Southern‘s expertise has built out our magical digital cloud and virtual server. Because of him our data stays independent and our systems open source. He has become our heartfelt brother who beautifully redefines the “bro” in “tech bro.” Lucia Ippolito has revitalized our administration and operations with her passionate spirit and ardent mind. Few could make “database integration” into a journey of the soul, but she has. Benjamin Jones and Diana Li have made invaluable contributions to our newsletter and archive for which we are incredibly grateful. Our beloved Katie Anania returned momentarily from afar this summer to remind us of our courageous and joy-fueled origins.
With these hands on deck, the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism is set to produce new original programming in the coming year that continues to raise the bar for how we can consider art and activism together and support the vital role art and activism play in the Bay Area culture and its particular place in the contemporary moment.
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