Past Event – Continue the Conversation

Every year, the Wallace initiative hosts a large-scale community convening designed to bring together regional leaders, thinkers, administrators, and artists for a free, arts-focused community conversation and day of learning. For the initiative’s first year, Continue the Conversation – Bay Area Cultural Participation was held on December 2, 2008.

Hosted at Oakland’s Scottish Rite Center adjacent to Lake Merrit, Continue the Conversation was a community convening of 250 people for the entire Bay Area arts community.

In addition to the content-rich presentations and conversations that were part of the event, two Wallace commissions were also centered around Continue the Conversation.

  • Favianna Rodriguez, printmaker and digital artist, collaborated with video artist Reed Rickert to capture perspectives emanating out of Continue the Conversation. Watch Creativity in the Digital Age below or click here  to view it directly on Vimeo.

  • Claire Light, creative writer and cultural blogger, captures what is perhaps the MOST THOROUGH record of ANY Wallace event to date in an interactive live blogging session at Continue the Conversation. Click here to download a PDF of Liveblogging “Continue the Conversation – Bay Area Cultural Participation” or click here to read the blog on Claire’s site.

Besides the two commissions, the day included dynamic presentations of information and artistic work and a unique format to help convening participants take the reigns of the community conversation.

  • Holly Sidford (Helicon Collaborative), presented on how the current economic crisis and California’s shifting demographics were impacting the field, how both are affecting participation in the arts, and how participation is the most important renewable resource. Click here to view CHANGE: The Economy, The Community & Participation.
  • Wallace-commissioned artist Paul Flores presented his bilingual performance text addressing the dilemma and effects of land use for traditional Mexican-American, Chicano, and other U.S.-born Latinos from the San Francisco Bay Area in NOT GUANTANAMO, Or YOU’RE GONNA CRY. Click here to download a PDF of the script from The San Francisco Foundation website.
  • Participants were also introduced to the “world café” format. World café is a system of exchange based on social café conversation whereby a group of people is able to explore any number of chosen topics. Participants swapped tables, taking ideas to a new group, while a permanent host remained at each table. Ideas moved about the room and bore fruit as networks were established and knowledge was shared; participants tackled such issues as the economic downturn, new media, and audience surveys.
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ABOUT THE INITIATIVE

In 2008, The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA) embarked on a four-year funding partnership to encourage systemic and sustainable structural change in the relationships of Bay Area arts organizations to their audiences, supported by the Wallace Foundation. Community offerings during the grant period (2008-2011) included seminars, workshops, large public convenings, implementation grants, development of a regional shared mailing list, and expansion of the SFArts.org website.

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