Oakland’s “First Fridays” Street Festival May Not Return
Oakland First Fridays is an immersive art and community experience on the first Friday of each month from 5-9 pm, spanning five huge blocks on Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street. Thousands of people come from across the Bay Area and beyond to see and experience art, be inspired, eat great food, enjoy live music, and stroll through the amazing, eclectic city of Oakland. An economic impact report shows that the Oakland First Fridays has a major, positive economic impact on the KONO community.
No, it’s not due to the pandemic, but unfortunately, the city’s budget for security and safety for special events, such as the city’s extremely popular First Fridays street festival, has been greatly diminished. Taxes from the city’s hotels and motels help cover the costs associated with special events and unfortunately, the pandemic has hit the hotel industry particularly hard and therefore the funds have dried up.
The event typically draws thousands of people every month, and the city doesn’t have the funds in the current budget for the necessary staffing for the event. Organizers have stated that now in order to obtain a permit to host the event, the festival must come up with $24,00 to cover the cost of the 45 police required to staff the event.
Oakland’s Marketing Coordinator has stated that more funding for outdoor festival is forthcoming, but no plans have been made as of yet.