January News: Creative Spaces for Life


OK, we know we've been out of touch. 

But we've been working on this:

Oakland Works in Progress, a curated mixed-use creative space in downtown Oakland. This project continues our long-term investigation into the intersection of culture, wellness, and social change. And we'd love to have you involved.

If you are interested in joining a community of creatives and entrepreneurs that includes Commons, The Alice Collective and Ubuntu Theater Project, reach out to us at oakland@storefrontinstitute.com.

We are now finalizing our tenants for our work/live spaces, and identifying organizations and initiatives that are interested in sharing workspace.

Get in touch if it sounds like your kind of thing and we'll tell you more. 


Oakland Works in Progress  
What is it? A 17,000 sq ft Art Deco building over four floors in downtown Oakland that has been fully renovated over the past two years. We're now aiming to bring together, under one roof, those initiatives that reflect our belief in the importance of social connection, community and of culture, in all its forms, to shape and affect our everyday lives in positive ways.

How can you be involved? We are looking for creative entrepreneurs, culture makers, idea enthusiasts, changemakers, and practitioners to become tenants of one of our remaining work/live loft spaces. We'd also love to talk to you if you are interested in hosting an event, working in one of our shared offices, becoming a Storefront practitioner, or staying in our artist lofts.

You can reach out to us at oakland@storefrontinstitute.com


A Streetcar Named Desire

Ubuntu Theater Project

Feb 2-25 (Fri, Sat & Sun)

Oakland's own Ubuntu Theater Project is thrilled to present an electric new production of Tennessee Williams' legendary drama, which follows the glamourous Blanche DuBois as she begins to rebuild her life after losing her family fortune. But within the volatile household of her sister Stella and her brother-in-law Stanley, Blanche's nostalgia soon gives way to a more savage reality: one in which envy, passion, and betrayal collide--with devastating consequences.

Directed by Emilie Whelan. Tickets $15-45. As part of Ubuntu's commitment to creating accessible art, Ubuntu also offers pay-what-you-can tickets at the door for every performance, so that no one will be turned away for lack of funds. 

Venue: Alice Collective, 14th Street and Alice.


The Indie Alley: Marin's new space for creatives

Missing our programs? We're just starting up again - actually, this weekend - with an old favorite, Seeing in Slow Motion with Wioleta Kaminska. We're over in Marin for this, at new co-working and creative space The Indie Alley.

Saturday 3rd Feb: There are stories all around us. Designer and media artist Wioleta Kaminska will lead this workshop on creating a short video piece with your smartphone and capturing all those things around you that you typically miss.

Check out Storefront programs at The Indie Alley, and some of this new space's other offerings from Drop-in Field Days to interactive art sessions to Social Club nights.


The Festival of the Impossible: June 8-10, 2018

Minnesota Street Project

The Festival of the Impossible is a three-day event celebrating artists pushing past the boundaries of reality and inspiring us with their visions. Curated by Joyce Grimm (our creative partner over the past year on Storefront Institute Oakland), the Festival aims to support a collection of creative and innovative makers working across a wide range of artistic media -- from oil on canvas to augmented reality. The goal is to showcase new and visual narrative ideas that are considered "impossible". 

Call for Artists: The Festival is seeking to work with artists from a wide range of artistic media that will foster a diverse platform of ideas and present the viewer with an experience that will inspire. Artists are asked to submit proposals to review by February 23rd. 
For more details, check out the criteria for proposals and application details on the Festival's website. Good luck with your application.

The personal is professional


Twelve years ago my mum developed a mental health disorder, which she has struggled with, sometimes acutely, ever since. But from then on, while working as an art curator and exhibition maker, I experienced a disconnect between my cultural life and the ‘real-one’ of my mum’s diagnosis. In the arts, we say that we speak to our everyday lives, and yet I was no longer seeing that. Well, at least not in my own. So what to do?  I studied psychotherapy. Of course.

Over my foundation year, I considered leaving the art world. I would become a therapist. But steeped now in Freud, in Jung, in Winnicott, I realized that it wasn't my skill to be the person in the room. So that wasn't entirely my world either. I was still drawn to culture and ideas, but now with that very urgent mental health component. I just needed to figure out how to bring them together in a way that made sense to me, and maybe even to others. 

In 2013, I spent a year interviewing artists, writers, entrepreneurs, designers, and academics about their take on mental health and from that Storefront Institute grew. The idea of this organization is to think about a cultural space as a mental health space – to explore what that means to inhabit the same location, approach, and program. What we need to do, and what we’re hoping to achieve with Storefront Institute, is to reimagine what a public space for the common good looks like. We believe that we need to create hubs of creative individuals and organizations who work within the everyday challenge we all face of negotiating complex and evolving lives.

We know that people who are depressed, anxious, stressed or lonely can be helped by building relationships and community, identifying a purpose beyond themselves, and developing emotional intelligence and relational tools. We also know that creative spaces have been shown to increase empathy by providing safe spaces for multiple perspectives and contemplation, forms of storytelling that we can relate to, experiential learning opportunities, and a sense of awe and wonder. By bringing arts and culture explicitly into the realm of mental health, we're borrowing the former’s methodology of bringing people, ideas and learning together. We’re also creating spaces and programs to contain and reflect what's happening within ourselves as well as all around us.

And happily, with Storefront, we believe we’re part of an emerging new sector that’s all about how to be a person in the world. There are increasingly places to go, people to see, initiatives to participate in, that are in community and support of one another, rather than more and more strategies for living done on your own in the seclusion of your home. People are now building frameworks for engagement, transformation, and participation, often through the filter of culture, and creating the structures to help negotiate our lives, from multiple perspectives. It’s a very different approach to what culture was supposed to do previously and how our institutions have been conceived and constructed. 

We know we've been quiet over summer, but over the next few months, we’ll be announcing details about our new spaces, programs and partnerships. Also, we'll be launching our own Side Project - our Compendium to Life and we'll need your help building that up - more soon on what that really means.

So keep in touch: You can sign up for our email newsletter here, follow us on Medium here, or our other Social Media platforms here, here or here, and even here. Or just check back occasionally to see what we’re up to.

Claire Fitzsimmons is the Director of Storefront Institute, a creative space for life, and has written widely on contemporary culture and mental health.