Oakland CARES Act: Technical Assistance for Artists and Arts Nonprofits

To help artists and arts organizations pivot from in-person performances to online engagements, the Economic & Workforce Development Department contracted with Youth Speaks and Spearitwurx.

Posted: February 4th, 2021 2:20 PM

Last Updated: March 22nd, 2021 1:51 PM

Program Overview

To help artists and arts organizations pivot from in-person performances to online engagements, EWD contracted with Youth Speaks for $200,000 to provide 14 free webinars. In partnership with YR Media and Zoo Labs, 782 participants were trained on available tools for programming and production; producing content utilizing low-cost tools and technology; the aesthetic associated with virtual presentations; social media and marketing strategies; and strategies on how to monetize one’s online presence.

Through a $100,000 agreement with EWD, Spearitwurx was engaged to support the transition to digital platforms by artists and entrepreneurs and provided wellness checks to 43 artists and arts entrepreneurs. To offset the loss of wages and to support health and healing activities to build resiliency during these challenging times, Spearitwurx provided small relief grants, ranging from $150 to $600 per family, to 21 artists and entrepreneurs. Ten artists and entrepreneurs also received 1-on-1 and group coaching sessions to train them on how to pivot to digital platforms and expand business opportunities. Additionally, 10 emerging and established entrepreneurs will receive $1,500 to support their business development processes via social media.

Recipient Demographics

Race of Youth Speaks participants showing that 82% identified as BIPOC

10% of the participants in the Youth Speaks series identified as Differently Abled and 82% identified as BIPOC.

See the full demographic chart of Youth Speaks participants.

Pie chart showing age groups of Spearitwurx participants

98% of the individuals assisted through Spearitwurx programs identified as Black or African, and ranged in age from 18 to 66.


“I am super grateful that I was able to take advantage of these workshops, they were just what I needed as I started to think about the company I wanted to create and why,” said Ashley Smiley, an independent playwright and producer who participated in Youth Speaks' webinar series. “Thank you for all this wonderful free programming. Super grateful, and thank you for having it up all to view on a later date.”

"I’m so thankful for the funds I received from Spearitwurx. It has allowed me to develop a website designed by a local indigenous female graphic designer. This type of unrestricted funding is critical for independent businesses to build and grow our business. Thank you so much"-Falilah Aisha Bilal of FAB Productions


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