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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.

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 is a project of Villa San Francisco in coproduction with the French American Cultural Society and the Institut Français, and in collaboration with Légendes Urbaines.

The project includes these major components:

  • A comprehensive publication released in September 2020 which further defines the cultural exchange and offers examples of how arts and cultural institutions work with artists
  • A short documentary film about how Oakland and Saint-Denis are creating more equitable cities by filmmaker Camille Servan-Schreiber, with funding from California Humanities
  • SPACES, an immersive performance that merges contemporary dance with local storytelling; this will take place in July 2021 at Oakland City Hall and Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.
  • In September/October 2021, performances will occur in the Basilique of Saint-Denis and Saint-Denis Market. Learn more here: https://www.kaimeraproductions.com/spaces-st-denis.
  • 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!

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 Emeritus/ 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, Consultant, Matthew Passmore, Artist & Founder/Morelab and Steven Raspa, Associate Director/Burning Man Project, and Katharine Wallerstein, Associate Director/Davis Humanities Institute.

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 January 2021 it become primarily a virtual event, offering easy access to philosophical conversations across the world. Watch the replay here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92K2V2ruvAo.