In 2020, Community Vision partnered with SVCreates and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation to develop ArtsWeb, a new online Bay Area arts hub. The initiative, now in its incubation phase, will launch pilot programs in Santa Clara and Alameda Counties in 2021.
ArtsWeb is a decentralized, flexible, relationship-based service hub that connects professional, community-based artists, arts groups, creative entrepreneurs, and free-range creatives with business service providers in their communities. Once launched, ArtsWeb will also network creatives with each other providing a forum for sharing and mutual aid.
In Summer 2020, we welcomed Zakiya Harris to lead ArtsWeb’s business navigation across Alameda County. Zakiya, a cultural architect, brings more than two decades of experience working at the intersections of art, activism, and spiritual entrepreneurship to the role. Zakiya is the Co-Founder of nationally recognized projects including Impact Hub Oakland, Grind for the Green, and is a past Fellow of Green For All and Bold Food. Currently she serves as the Co-Founder and Senior Advisor at Hack the Hood, an award-winning nonprofit that introduces low-income youth of color to careers in tech by hiring and training them to build websites for real small businesses in their own communities.
Zakiya’s experience in arts and equal access movements includes a combination of management, education, and public speaking. As a successful performance artist she has released two albums under the name of Sh8peshifter and has toured extensively throughout the country. She is also the company member of Ase Dance Theater Collective and House Full of Black Women.
Q&A: LEARN MORE ABOUT ZAKIYA
What brought you to Artsweb? Tell us about your new role.
ArtsWeb is a culmination of the work that I have been doing in community for the last two decades, working at the intersections of Art, Spiritual Entrepreneurship, and Personal Transformation. It feels great to bring all of these skill sets from living and working as an Oakland-based artist and founding non profit/for profit enterprises into this project. It has been an honor to support the alignment of the Black led creative cultural ecosystem towards the pillars of real estate acquisition, capacity building and cooperative economic models.
You work at the intersections of social entrepreneurship, 21st century education and creative transformation. Can you speak about what this means for your role as Artsweb’s Alameda County Business Navigator?
I believe that regardless of whether you have a 9 to 5 or not, we are all entrepreneurs. We all have to think of our career trajectories as a sort of personal brand and most of us all have different gifts/strengths that we bring to the community outside of our main gigs.
Additionally, many of us actually care about the planet and how our work impacts others. We want to explore more models of enterprise beyond traditional capitalism. Co-Founding Impact Hub Oakland gave me first hand experience of what it means to 1) launch a startup as part of a team, but also how to incubate other enterprises along the way. I am proud of the amazing organizations that were birthed in that building.
As Co-Founder of Hack the Hood, I had the opportunity to architect a 21st century curriculum that not only taught the language of technology, but also supported participants with the skills they needed to thrive in the current economy. Unfortunately, many of our learning institutions aren’t educating students on the future or even the present day realities of the economy.
Working with so many companies at Impact Hub Oakland allowed me to transfer that knowledge directly to our young people. As a life coach, artist, and an educator, I have a keen awareness of how to create an arch to move my clients and the community as a whole from one space to the other.
ArtsWeb gives me the unique opportunity to bring all of those strengths to the table, working with creatives to build arcs of transformation aimed at changing the status quo.
What’s your personal philosophy on community development especially given the urgency of the moment we are in? And how do you bring your experience as an artist, performer, and creative to this role?
As a Black Woman living in America, my entire life and existence has been one of urgency. It didn’t start with the current pandemic(s) and it won’t end with it. I am the descendants of great people, I stand on their shoulders and my purpose is to move forward. In the words of the late great Nippsie Hussle, the marathon continues!
What drew you to work on an arts and culture program at a financial institution? What do you think sets us apart?
Honestly, this is the first time I have worked so closely with a financial institution so this is actually a learning curve for me but also an tremendous opportunity to leverage this work directly into one of the most historically exclusionist industries – finance.
How did you embark on this journey of bringing together arts, entrepreneurship, and community development finance?
My approach is rooted in the understanding that every community already holds the solutions to its own problems. Through deep listening with community members and coming from a place of humility, I have been able to identify gaps and opportunities for collaboration. That is one plus of the pandemic, the silos are falling, which is a good thing for our work.
If you could interview anyone from your life, living or passed, who would it be and why?
My paternal grandmother, Evelyn Light, who passed away before I ever got to meet her. I have been told that she was a singer.
What inspires you?
My mother, she is my rock and is literally a walking miracle. She reminds me of the power that I come from.
What’s the best part of your new job?
Hands down getting to work with other culture workers, creatives and institutions I admire and respect to strengthen the BIPOC-led Creative Ecosystem of Alameda County.
ArtsWeb is currently looking for business service providers who are interested in connecting with new clients in the creative sector. ArtsWeb will match these providers with creatives looking for professional services in a highly curated way. Over the next year, ArtsWeb will assemble a roster of business service providers interested in working with artists and arts organizations. If you’re a provider and are interested in learning more, please fill out this interest form. ArtsWeb’s business navigation across Santa Clara County is led by Tanuja Bahal. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit artsweb.world and sign-up for updates to be kept in the loop on the project.