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Oakland Mayor Announces $1.7 Million for Affordable Arts Spaces in Wake of Warehouse Fire

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 03: Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf speaks at a press conference following an overnight fire that claimed the lives of at least nine people at a warehouse in the Fruitvale neighborhood on December 3, 2016 in Oakland, California. The warehouse was hosting an electronic music party. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of this weekend’s deadly fire at the Ghost Ship artists’ warehouse in Oakland, California, city mayor Libby Schaaf has announced a $1.7 million project intended to help arts organizations secure permanent, affordable spaces, the East Bay Times reports.

The money will go towards financial aid and advice for arts organizations facing rising rent or other causes of displacement, as well as a pilot program to help them acquire real estate. Funds will come from a pair of private foundations and the Bay Area’s Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST).

“Though this support has been in development for many months, these funds are especially important and prescient in light of the recent Oakland warehouse fire tragedy,” the mayor’s office said in a press release.

Thirty-six people were killed in Friday night’s fire, which broke out during a party. A precise cause has not been announced, although investigators have said the fire may have originated with a refrigerator. Search and recovery operations at the burned-out warehouse concluded yesterday.

In addition to the city’s long-term cultural development plans, numerous online fundraising campaigns are collecting donations for the families of victims. The two largest, hosted by the Grey Area Foundation for the Arts and the Oakland Athletics, Oakland Raiders, and Golden State Warriors, have raised a combined total of almost $1 million.