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Building Bridges Between California and France: the Oakland/Saint-Denis Cooperation Project

California Humanities is proud to build international bridges with France through the arts and humanities in partnership with Villa San Francisco.

The Oakland / Saint-Denis Cooperation Project  has brought together cultural and urban leaders in both cities – Oakland, California and Saint-Denis, France – to compare innovations, promote international and interdisciplinary dialogue, and amplify the role of the cultural sector in urban development.  Both cities have deeply rooted artistic communities that can play an increasingly critical and catalyzing role in creating more inclusive and equitable cities.  This partnership includes the French American Cultural Society and the Institut Français, Paris in collaboration with Légendes Urbaines.

The project includes these major components:

  • A comprehensive publication (co-edited by Villa San Francisco and Légendes Urbaines) released in September 2020 which further defines the cultural exchange and offers examples of how arts and cultural institutions work with cities
  • A short documentary film about the exchange by filmmaker Camille Servan-Schreiber, with funding from California Humanities
  • SPACES, immersive performance that merge contemporary dance with local storytelling; these will take place in the Basilique in Saint-Denis, and at Oakland City Hall in 2021
  • A series of public conversations with Villa San Francisco in the United States and France to further expand the ideas and solutions raised by the initiative; we will update this list as dates are confirmed:

Learn more:

Read more:

Thanks to Our Partners!

Oakland/Saint-Denis is a cooperation project of Villa San Francisco, in co-production with the French American Cultural Society, The Institut Français and California Humanities. The project is developed in collaboration with the Agency Légendes Urbaines.

Thank you to all the people who made this project possible:

Juliette Donadieu, Cultural Attachée/Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US, Laure Gayet, Urbanist/Légendes Urbaines, Julie Fry, CEO/California Humanities, Emmanuel Lebrun-Damiens, General Consul/Consulate General of France in San Francisco, Hannah Angely, Chief Development Officer/French American Cultural Society and Emilie Passerieux, Algance Mahdjoub, Alice Le Frêche, Martin Lepercq/Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US.

In France…. Pierre-Emmanuel Becherand, General Manager/Grand Paris Express, Julien Beller, Founder and Director/Le 6b, Juliette Bompoint, Director/Mains d’Oeuvres, Didier Coirint, Cultural Affairs Manager/City of Saint-Denis, Louise Fourquet, CEO/Baluchon, Simón Adinia Hanukai, Artistic Director/Kaimera Productions, Ben Lamyne, Artist, Julia Lopez, Artist & Founder/Maison Jaune, Emilie Moreau/APUR – Atelier parisien d’urbanisme, Valentine Roy/Territoire Culture et Création, Plaine Commune.

oaklandish-designIn California…. Roberto Bedoya, Cultural Affairs Manager/City of Oakland, Benjamin Burke, Founder/Shade Tree, Sarah Crowell, Artistic Director/ Destiny Arts Center, Moy Eng, CEO/Community  Arts Stabilization Trust,  Lori Fogarty, Director/Oakland Museum of California, Ben Frost, Music Director/Youth Radio Media, William Gilchrist, Director/ Planning and Building Department/ City of Oakland, Shannon Jackson, Vice Chancellor Arts + Design/UC Berkeley, Kelley Kahn, Policy Director, Art and Economic Development/City of Oakland, David Keenan, Safer DYI Spaces, Robert Ogilvie, Former Director/Spur Oakland, Kelly McKinley, CEO, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Matthew Passmore, Artist & Founder/Morelab and Steven Raspa, Associate Director/Burning Man Project.

Thank you to Oaklandish for their graphic design for this project.


Also in partnership with Villa San Francisco, California Humanities participates in the annual Night of Ideas, a collaborative and interactive seven-hour program of debate, performances, dance and music featuring top thinkers from San Francisco and beyond. This international event happens in more than 150 cities in the world, and in 2021 will become primarily a virtual event, offering easy access to philosophical conversations across the world on January 28, 2020.