The Fight to Save Betti Ono Continues

The gallery has launched a fundraising campaign and will host a First Friday event.

As the Express reported last month in our feature “Will Oakland Lose Its Artistic Soul?,” Betti Ono Gallery (1427 Broadway, Oakland) is facing threat of displacement due to a 60% rent increase (which comes out to an additional $22,000).

Betti Ono Gallery, which aims to elevate marginalized voices and creative work, has been located in a city-owned building adjacent to Frank Ogawa Plaza for the past five years. Despite repeated requests, the gallery has been unable to obtain a long-term lease from the city, according to Betti Ono founder and director Anyka Barber. 

[jump] For nearly a year, Barber has been leading the Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition (OCNC) which is rallying members of Oakland’s creative community — and beyond — to address the rapid displacement of Oakland’s art spaces. The majority of OCNC meetings have taken place at Betti Ono, and the gallery has become a crucial hub for Oakland’s arts and activist communities to convene and discuss the threat that gentrification poses to the city’s culture and communities. 

Barber recently launched a campaign, called “PowerLoveRestistance,” to raise awareness about Betti Ono Gallery’s situation, and to draw attention to the shared plight of Oakland art spaces in a climate of skyrocketing rents. The campaign, which was launched on March 15, includes a series of events as well as a fundraising initiative with a goal of $50,000 to pay rent. 

As of this writing, the fundraising page has been live for seventeen days and 6% of the funding goal has been reached. 

The campaign page reads: 
“Oakland is the epicenter of a national affordability crisis, and Black-owned and people of color-owned spaces are the most hard hit. While we continue to demand the city provide us with the long-term lease we deserve, we need to raise $50,000. Our community partnerships, relationships and livelihood are on the line. … Any and all contributions will provide us with the critical resources needed to advocate and secure a 5-year lease while keeping our doors open and continuing to function as a space for activism, community transformation and cultural resilience. ”
In addition, half of the gate donations for tomorrow’s First Friday Street Fair (which is fiscally sponsored by a nonprofit called the Koreatown Northgate Community Benefit District) will be donated to Betti Ono Gallery’s campaign. Plus, beginning this month, the street fair’s hours will be extended, running from 5:30–9:30 p.m. for the rest of the season. (The extended hours are unrelated to Betti Ono Gallery, but all the more incentive to attend.)

Betti Ono will be holding a free First Friday event tomorrow night from 6–9 p.m. in support of the campaign.  The event description promises a “super-charged evening of POWER.” And tentative programming includes “community power mapping and messages,” and “power ballads karaoke.” 

Watch Betti Ono’s PowerLoveResistance video below:

Betti Ono: Power, Love, Resistance from behold, creators on Vimeo.


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