On the first Friday evening of every month, Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland is closed off to traffic from West Grand Avenue to 27th Street, and is transformed into a venue for art, music, dancing, food, poetry, literature, and social activism—The Oakland First Fridays Arts Festival.
It’s a fun evening, a great way to get out of the house on a Friday night, mix and mingle with people, and indulge in some truly wonderful comfort food and drink. All this while being entertained by a wide variety of performance groups…Everything from rock and blues groups to DJ’s and dancers. There is even a section just south of the main event, at the Giant Burger drive-in, where vintage auto enthusiast come together to show off their meticulously-restored cars.
First Fridays has been going on for a few years now, and is a community effort that has been grown over the years. This past February a shooting closed down the event, and organizers were forced to down-size the area of Telegraph Avenue on which it takes place. Now the City of Oakland has informed the event organizers that, due to budget constraints, the city can no longer afford to financially support the event. That means the event organizers would have to bear the costs of police security, and other services, if it is to continue. The City is passing these costs on to First Friday organizers as of July 1, 2013.
Oakland is a city that has been on the rebound for some years now. It is truly a remarkable, diverse, and vibrant community, with an amazing depth of cultural richness to offer those of us who have come to live here. Nothing showcases this better than Oakland First Fridays.
Currently the event organizers are seeking support from the community to help fund future First Fridays, and keep it going. To do this they are asking the public for donations. If you’re interesting in helping to make a difference, you can send a donation via PayPal to OakFFfund@gmail.com. Alternately, if you would like to help with the organizing committee, they are also seeking voluteers. More information can be found on the Oakland First Fridays web site.
For more photos of the June 2013 First Friday, please visit my Flickr page.