Posted February 17, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Art+Culture

Will Oakland Lose Its Artistic Soul?

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By Sarah Burke for East Bay Express

Members of The Town’s vibrant arts community say they’re at risk of displacement because of skyrocketing rents, and that Oakland isn’t moving fast enough to protect its cultural identity.
By @sarahlubyburke

On the first Friday of February, during Oakland’s monthly street fair, patrons packed into Betti Ono Gallery in the heart of downtown. The gallery’s walls featured photos by Brittani Sensabaugh, depicting Black, disenfranchised communities across the country — including the deep East Oakland one where the artist grew up. With her mother by her side, Sensabaugh spoke about what she aims to achieve through her work: uplifting struggling communities by representing them authentically, rather than relying on harmful stereotypes. Afterward, a patron asked a question that seemed to have been on the minds of many: “What are your thoughts on gentrification?”

“I’ve got a lot of thoughts about that, but let me just keep it to a bare minimum,” Sensabaugh responded. “It’s not even the fact that they are coming in, it’s the fact that the people coming into the neighborhoods are not embracing the culture that is already there.”