Cal Humanities

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

Oakland Cultural Strategists-in Government Program

The Oakland Fund for Public Innovation, in partnership with the City of Oakland, invites qualified cultural consultants to respond to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a new round of the Cultural Strategists-in Government Program by December 16, 2021 at 5:00 pm. Click HERE for more information.

Continuing to advance its Cultural Development Plan “Belonging in Oakland,” the Cultural Affairs Division of the City of Oakland forged a partnership with The Oakland Fund for Public Innovation to secure a multi-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to promote equity, belonging, and well-being for all communities of Oakland. The Cultural Strategist-in-Government Program will place Oakland-based artists and cultural workers as practitioners in City departments to infuse City problem-solving with new perspectives and creative thinking from communities historically under-represented in the City’s policy-making staff.

Nine different City entities are calling to have Cultural Strategists-in-Government (CSIGs) placed with them to address projects outlined in individualized case statements. They are:

  • African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library
  • Citywide Communications, Office of the City Administrator
  • Community Homeless Services, Human Services Department
  • Cultural Affairs Division-Public Art Program, Economic & Workforce Development Department
  • Environmental Services Division, Oakland Public Works Department
  • Office of the Mayor
  • Planning Bureau, Planning & Building Department
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Violence Prevention

Cultural strategists are meant to play roles different from typical artists-in-residence. There is no expectation that CSIGs will create an artistic product nor are they necessarily artists at all. CSIGs can be artists, but they could also be people who consider themselves cultural workers, creative entrepreneurs, traditional culture bearers, community historians, or others who are knowledgeable of culturally-specific practices, history, or heritage relevant to communities in Oakland. CSIGs should be civic-spirited, that is, interested in serving the community and believe that City government can and should work effectively for all Oaklanders. Applicants to this program must be residents of Oakland.

The CSIG Program seeks to discover new ways of fulfilling the City’s aspirations by working with strategists from communities most impacted by inequities and who can bring a new lens to the work of building a just city.

Cultural Strategist applications will be reviewed by city and CSIG Program staff and finalists will be interviewed in January 2022. Up to nine professional service contracts, not to exceed $48,000 each, will be awarded. Notification of awards is anticipated in January 2022 with contracts beginning in February.


The Workshop was held on Thursday November 18, 2021. To access the recording, please click visit the link here.


  1. How-to-Apply Workshop (Held Virtually): Thursday, November 18, 2021, 12-1PM
  2. Deadline to submit applications: Thursday, December 16, 2021 5PM
  3. Finalist interviews: January 2022
  4. Award notification: late January-early February 2022

If you have any questions about the grant guidelines or eligibility, please contact Vanessa Whang at