Oakland’s Thriving Arts Scene

Oakland’s Thriving Arts Scene

Oakland is a rich tapestry of culture, creating a unique blend of people, food, ideas, and art that make the neighborhood unlike any other in the Bay Area. Known as the “Sunny Side of the Bay,” this area’s thriving arts scene is one of its main appeals. From any of the Oakland apartment rentals, you can find this living culture on every corner.

The Scene

Oakland boasts plenty of international acts, but their acute focus on local talent combines everything from oil painters to jazz musicians and DIY crafters across its city blocks. First Friday Art Walks in KONO and Uptown are filled with galleries of all sorts. Yoshi’s in Jack London Square is the jazziest place around. The Woodminster Amphitheater hosts musical performances, while every street comes alive with art in all its forms.

Each aspect of Oakland’s art scene is influenced by the rich diversity found within the city. The culmination of so many people, combined with the city’s numerous artistic programs, allows innovation and creativity to flourish. If you’re ready to dive head first into all that this scene has to offer, then here’s where to start.

Creative Growth Art Center

This professional studio is open to artists of all ages, so long as they are disabled. The environment is collaborative and highly accessible, encouraging individuals to pursue their passions. They feature a gallery and an exhibit in their uptown center that’s worth checking out.

EastSide Arts and Cultural Center

EastSide delivers gallery exhibitions from Third World artists. You can find photography, visual arts, and archives ranging from to vinyl to poetry. Their focus is on cultural movements from around the world, curated by cultural workers and community organizers, making each exhibition wholly unique.

Joyce Gordon Gallery

Located in the heart of Oakland’s downtown Business District, Joyce Gordon is a commercial fine art gallery. It’s hardwood floors and high ceilings create and elegant backdrop for the work of local artists now nationally recognized. You’ll find numerous works from the Black Arts Movement on display.

Betti Ono

This experimental space combines art, culture, and community into an amplified expression of artistic voice. You’ll find Betti Ono along EastSide in the Black Arts Movement and Business District. Artwork here focuses on form as well as activism. Self-determination and pieces capable of transforming communities are highlighted amongst themes of cultural resilience.

Oakland Art Murmur

OAM is a network of over 50 galleries, which are all a part of Oakland First Fridays. The bulk of these galleries can be found in the uptown area, but there are multiple locations across Oakland. Works range from sculpture to textiles and everything in-between, making each location unique. OAM also hosts Saturday Strolls, which open these galleries to the public as they show off local talent.

Dance and Theater

If you’re interested in theater or dance groups, then you’re in luck. Oakland has a handful of stellar performers in the neighborhood. AXIS is nationally and internationally renowned for their choreography. Dancers with and without physical disabilities perform in their shows, putting on stunning displays.

Bandaloop is an Oakland-based troupe that puts on gravity-defying stunts, while New Style Motherlode brings the heat with its hip-hop dance studio. The Ubuntu Theater Project is where you’ll find shows based on interconnectedness, highlighting social dysfunctions. Ubuntu offers a unique “pay what you can” ticket price.

Finally, there’s the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. This popular visual and performance arts center is home to the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, Dimensions Dance Theater Company, and Diamano Coura West Africa Dance Company (among others).


Since the early 70s, Yoshi’s has served up traditional Japanese cuisine with a side of jazz. The performance space is intimate, the sound system is state-of-the-art, and the food receives stellar reviews. If you’re in the mood for a finger tapping good time, then Yoshi’s is the place to be.

Oakland Metro Opera House

While the name suggests opera, this venue is actually the place to find metal, punk, and hardcore acts. Headbangers gather here for both local and national acts, but there’s more to the Metro than meets the eye. This venue also hosts an underground wrestling event named Hoodslam, as well as the Tourettes Without Regrettes variety show. It’s a unique place, and always an excellent time.

Stork Club Oakland

You’ll find the Stork Club in uptown, boasting a variety of musical events throughout to entice you into its cozy dive-bar atmosphere. Mondays are when you can find bluegrass jams, while Frist Fridays are synonymous with burlesque shows. Karaoke, live music, and DJs fill this bar’s calendar. The Stork club also happens to be the best place to get a cheap drink.

The New Parish

You can find plenty of comics performing here, but the real appeal of The New Parish are the national acts that play its stage. Rap, reggae, and R&B musicians are the focus of this venue, along with a little world music from time to time. Whether you’re enjoying a show from the floor or the second-level balcony, you’ve got an amazing seat.

Starline Social Club

Step back in time with the Starline Social Club’s ballroom. Enjoy a full meal in the restaurant, tea in the parlor, drinks at the bar, and free movies in the screening room. Whenever you’re ready to hit the dancefloor, get ready for everything from folk to swing and jazz. It’s a 1920s-esque experience.

Oakland Apartment Rentals

Contemporary coastal meets comfortable living at Aventine, a series of new apartment homes that place you front and center to Oakland’s thriving arts scene. Thoughtfully designed with spacious living areas, modern interiors, and hotel-style amenities, these homes are made with easy living in mind. Quick access to BART and Freeway 80 makes Aventine a commuter’s paradise, but it’s what you’ll find inside that makes these homes envious.

From the fitness studio to the pet parlor, Aventine caters to every aspect of your life. Stroll the tranquility of the Bay Garden after a long day, mingle with residents in the clubroom, or enjoy breathtaking views of the bay from the terrace. Complete with modern finishes and immediate access to the Oakland community, everything you need is right outside your door.

Welcome to Aventine, where home awaits.

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