Why FIGMENT Oakland?

FIGMENT seeks to demonstrate what the arts can be: participatory, bursting with creativity and born from the desire to share imagination and invention between artists and the public. FIGMENT is a grassroots effort; organized and run entirely by volunteers because we believe in the aspirations and mission of FIGMENT. We believe that FIGMENT addresses a number of key issues that impact artists, cities, and creative communities alike.

Problem #1: Lack of Opportunity for Emerging Artists

We aim to provide as many opportunities for emerging artists as possible, creating an inclusive and participatory alternative to the high-end gallery scene. FIGMENT invites everyone to participate, regardless of socio-economic background, age, race, gender, artistic ability or career level . The main goal of our curatorial process is not to limit or restrict participation by weeding out artists, but to encourage all artists to make their work as participatory in nature as possible.

Problem #2: Access to the Arts for All

One of our main priorities is to lower the barriers to entry for audiences as well as artists. Museums, art events, concerts, and the theater are often prohibitively expensive in these difficult economic times. FIGMENT is committed to producing its event and exhibitions at no charge, minimizing as best we can the role economic privilege plays in access to the arts.

Problem #3: Passivity in Our Society

We live in a culture of spectatorship wherein people are often more comfortable watching than doing or making or creating. FIGMENT’s focus is on art that is created by a community working in collaboration, art that is created or enhanced by the input of its audience, or art that must be directly engaged with in order to be appreciated. FIGMENT intends for everyone who comes to the event be a participant, so that FIGMENT itself can be seen as one large collaborative art project.

Problem #4: Communities in Flux

Many of the inhabitants of large cities are transitional, moving to the city to pursue education or a career, then relocating elsewhere as their circumstances change. Existing neighborhoods change as older residents move and successive waves of new neighbors take their place. Many community structures that have functioned as longstanding social glue have lost their place of social prominence in the 21st century. FIGMENT seeks to provide a community-based experience that is open to everyone, giving even the most temporary of passersby a place to belong. With an emphasis on participatory art, FIGMENT encourages connections among audiences and artists, as everyone participates as collaborators in the creative process. Participatory arts include any works of art that require the interaction of participants, bringing together artists and community members in ways that build relationships and unlock individual creativity. The result is art as dialogue, rather than monologue; this dialogue forms the basis for a collaborative, constructive community.

Problem #5: Few Places for Youth and Families to Go

FIGMENT actively engages with youth and families, attracting a large number of children and their parents/caretakers. Children enjoy that FIGMENT’s culture is about getting your hands dirty and working with others to create. At FIGMENT, it’s okay to touch, in fact, it’s encouraged. Part of the FIGMENT ethos is that education comes from engagement. At the same time, FIGMENT is not a “just for kids” environment. We often hear adults comment that they “feel like kids” at FIGMENT; given an opportunity, even adults are able to play, have fun, and look at the world with fresh eyes.

Problem #6: Utilizing Public Space

FIGMENT was originally created for New York City’s Governors Island in 2007. In 2014 we’re coming to Oakland’s Mosswood Park - a much loved local park sitting at the intersection of multiple different neighborhoods. We want to get people out of their homes, out of their cars, off the BART and into the park - enjoying Oakland’s wonderful Mosswood Park! 

Problem #7: Oversaturation of Branding and Commercialism

We strive to create a culture free from buying, selling, and advertising. So often, our experiences in today’s world are mediated by ads, logos, and sales pitches. FIGMENT accepts no corporate sponsorship whatsoever. At FIGMENT, a logo should never interfere with your personal experience. Here, your experience is not for sale.

Problem #8: Living in a Time of Scarcity

At FIGMENT, you don’t need currency to experience the richness of the arts. Indeed, at a time when so many people are struggling to get by, we are proud to celebrate an abundance of inspiration. Despite the scarcity all around us, there is no shortage of creativity, innovation, and passion. FIGMENT provides a place where people can bring their gifts and share the wealth with their neighbors, old friends, new friends, and community members.


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