Episode 26: Tyese Wortham


Episode 26: Tyese Wortham

By Weston Teruya March 14, 2018

Weston Teruya welcomes artists, arts administrators, and cultural workers of color to get real about their lives, practices, and careers. Each episode is an in-depth look into how art gets made, but more importantly how these folks are seeing to the system of art’s (UN)making.

In this episode, I talk with cultural equity advocate, arts administrator, and dancer, Tyese Wortham. In our conversation, Tyese explains the work that she does with CAST—the Community Arts Stabilization Trust—and in particular, Keeping Space - Oakland, a technical and financial assistance initiative she runs within the organization. Prior to her time at CAST, Tyese worked for the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Cultural Equity Grant program (now called Community Investments) and before that, she was a presenter and producer for culturally specific artistic work with the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. In her own practice as a dancer, she has performed as a principal with Emesè: Messengers of the African Diaspora and De Rompe Y Raja Cultural Association. She’s also brought those combined experiences to her work as an advisor and panelist for organizations like the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, the Black Choreographers Festival, the Isadora Duncan Awards, and Silicon Valley Creates.

CAST uses a variety of financial and real estate strategies to create permanent spaces for arts & culture organizations with the hope of stabilizing the creative community in the face of major rent spikes, real estate speculation, and economic displacement. The organization began as a partnership between the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and Northern California Community Loan Fund, and is perhaps best known locally for their work to secure permanent homes for the Luggage Store and CounterPulse. Tyese breaks down how CAST approaches their work and the nuances of Oakland’s cultural ecology--including hopeful examples of people self-organizing resources to hold onto their spaces. We also talk about cultural equity and creating room for yourself as an artist and creative being within institutions.

Credit: photograph of the Luggage Store, whose home was secured in partnership with the Community Arts Stabilization Trust, photograph by Hana Lee


Serving artists and arts organizations through real estate development and grantmaking, Tyese Wortham runs Keeping Space – Oakland, a technical and financial assistance initiative, as the Director of Community Engagement at CAST.  As a passionate and community-based grantmaker, administrator, artist, and teacher, Tyese creates life balance by nourishing her physical, mental, and spiritual health through dance, yoga, and meditation. If you have questions about CAST’s work, contact Tyese at twortham@cast-sf.org.


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This episode is funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.

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