About next month...
Oakland First Fridays regretfully announces that our street festival scheduled for Friday, November 2, has been cancelled.
There are several reasons for this. But the driving reason is the violence which occurred after the most recent event, when two people shooting at each other injured five (including themselves). Although this happened three hours after Oakland First Fridays shut down and several blocks from our footprint, safety is something we take very, very seriously.
Oakland First Fridays has come a long way from its beginnings as a small guerrilla street festival in 2005. We now close Telegraph from Grand to 27th, and welcome as many as 30,000 people to enjoy art, performance, food and an only-in-Oakland experience. We’re proud of our track record managing a peaceful, popular and growing celebration. But with success comes new challenges.
Most Oaklanders understand that First Fridays belongs to all of us, and we all have a stake in keeping it a safe and welcome space. But there is always going to be bad behavior, and we need to make sure we are doing everything possible to keep our event safe from before it starts until after it ends.
During this hiatus, the Oakland First Fridays team will be conducting a top-to-bottom review of our policies and procedures. We’ll be looking at new ways to increase safety, and addressing other issues raised during conversations with participants, local businesses and city officials in recent weeks. We plan to increase our community partnerships and engagements, review our security procedures with Oakland police, city officials and businesses in the surrounding area, and step up enforcement of the open-containers ban at the event.
In the longer term, we’ll be looking for programming and themes which bring out the best of Oakland and offer new ways for everyone in the community to interact and participate. We’re hoping to partner with Business Improvement Districts from Jack London Square to Temescal to bring home the fact that First Fridays is a city-wide event with galleries, performance, events and activities well beyond our five blocks of Telegraph.
When we relaunch Oakland First Fridays, there will be new security procedures in place, but we’re committed to remaining the welcoming and inclusive event we have always been. And of course, our decision doesn't impact the citywide Oakland Art Murmur November 2, and there will be galleries and events all over town to explore.
Oakland First Fridays belongs to everyone in Oakland, and we want to hear from you. The City of Oakland supports us too, and will be hosting a town hall open to everyone to discuss ideas for moving Oakland First Fridays forward, keeping it safe, keeping it fun, and keeping it Oakland. We'll announce the date and venue as soon as we hear it.
For questions and comments, or for anyone wanting to get involved in our storied celebration of Oakland’s arts and culture, feel free to contact us.
See you in December!
The First Fridays Team