Artists Transforming Their Cities through Political Power   

Artists Transforming Their Cities through Political Power   

Arts and culture are essential means by which people make sense of their lives, share their experiences, build bridges across divides, and realize their common humanity. When accessible and broadly supported, the arts have the power to transform how power and privilege are perceived and shift the narratives associated with justice, equity, accountability, and preserving endangered cultural practices. That makes arts and culture essential in any society and era, but they are especially important now, as we grapple with the dramatic political, social, and environmental shifts of this moment, and with some of our core democratic principles being tested in new ways.  

At the San Francisco Foundation, we are always working to highlight the progressive work and change that is taking place in the Bay Area through its arts and cultural communities to hear and see how Bay Area working artists and arts organizations are reimagining community-rootedness and belonging while moving the dial on issues that guide us towards a more just and equitable society. The Center for Cultural Power (Cultural Power) is one of our core partners working at this intersection of arts, civic engagement, social justice, and power building.

Cultural Power prioritizes and serves BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), Queer, Trans, and Immigrant communities—training, supporting, and uplifting artists through fellowships, location-specific cohorts, and power-building community events. With its roots in the Oakland-based Citizen Engagement Lab Education Fund and CultureStrike project (founded in 2011), The Center for Cultural Power launched just as the 2020 COVID-19 quarantine began in the Bay Area.  

Yet by 2022, in that year alone, Cultural Power launched The Constellations Culture Change Fund and Initiative, with $2 million re-granted to grassroots, BIPOC-led, cultural strategy organizations;  increased its digital reach to 25 million audience members across all platforms, paid distribution, and influencer campaigns; and reached over 1,000 artists with learning and professional development experiences in cohorts, workshops, and partnerships across the Midwest, the U.S.-Mexico Border region, and California.  

Courtesy of the Center for Cultural Power

Across all its work, Cultural Power creates a thriving ecosystem for  diverse artists and culture makers to  shift worldviews away from  domination and extraction toward  collaboration and interdependence. In  the Bay Area, Cultural Power’s ongoing  project, Oakland Futures, has  continued to uplift, share, and connect  stories about the city’s complex  history, current moment, and future  promise through the lens of BIPOC  Oakland storytellers—investing in  artists’ ability to sustain their work in connection to collective change.

Note for Donor Advised Fund Advisors:You can invest in this SFF grantee by recommending a grant in Donor Center to The Center for Cultural Power.For more recommendations in the Bay Area, or for help recommending a grant through your donor advised fund, contact your Philanthropic Advisor or email donorservices[at]