Bayview's Emerging African American Cultural District
Neighborhoods in San Francisco with volumes of foot traffic, vibrant corridors and robust tourism have clearly pronounced identities such as the Castro, the Mission, North Beach and Chinatown. They also have an array of activities and destinations for customers and residents to partake. This is vital to the success of a neighborhood because identity is what gives people a reason to visit, live and invest time and patronage. The question I have been asking since I began producing art events in the Bayview Hunter’s Point neighborhood is what exactly is its identity? If the internet is an indicator, Bayview’s identity is crime, which is not exactly going to encourage foot traffic or build community goodwill. I would argue that even though Bayview Hunter’s Point has its challenges, the media focuses on negativity, which not only hurts the many efforts to build positivity but also does not tell the complete, complex story that includes an immense amount of spirit, beauty and art.
I remember living in New York and experiencing the power of transformative art as it pertains to creating neighborhood identity from example, the Meat Packing District on the lower west side, was accentuated by focusing on pop up galleries and boutique music venues. The Meat Packing District is now one of the hippest places to be in New York, owing it to the city’s artist community.
Over the years, the Bayview Hunter’s Point has been attracting a cohort of artists and arts initiatives including the popular Hunter’s Point Artist Studios currently being renovated by Five Point Development as well as Zaccho Dance Theater, Public Glass, The Sprayview and the Bayview Opera House, all making this neighborhood primed and ready to be the next premier African American Cultural District in San Francisco.
For more information about the cultural district initiative in Bayview, please contact Supervisor Malia Cohen's office.