OAKLAND (KCBS)— Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf says the city would be willing to entertain First Fridays street arts festival’s requests for financial help, but the city is dealing with its own money problems.
Schaaf told KCBS the monthly series held on Telegraph Avenue has become an integral part of her city.
“It gets us in national news all the time and it really symbolizes that pop and vitality that is really just lighting up downtown Oakland and the Oakland story,” she said.
While it is popular, the festival is again facing money problems after losing its contract with the sponsor, KONO District (Koreatown’s community benefit district).
The city has spent thousands each month on police costs for the event and now there’s word that the event organizers could be asking them to pony up even more.
“The city is struggling itself this year. We would have to consider that request in the context of still, a funding gap to meet our basic services,” she said.
Even so, Schaaf said there’s still a lot of love for the event and the city would certainly consider their request for help. About half of the festival’s expenses are paid for by donations from those who attend.
Rain cancelled this month’s First Friday as well as December’s with the event’s reserves dropping to just $5,000.
In 2013, the First Fridays scaled back, under Mayor Jean Quan, after a fatal shooting marred the event.