Rotten City Cultural District
Summary - California Cultural Districts
The California Cultural District program was developed by the California Arts Council in partnership with Visit California and Caltrans. The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts, fostering accessible arts initiatives that reﬂect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations, serving as thought leader and champion for the arts, and providing eﬀective and relevant programs and services.
Curious why Emeryville was called the Rottenest City when it is such fertile ground for creative endeavors now?” See History here. And learn more about the transformation of the once Rotten City to the vibrant district it is now here.
Design credit Rob Arias, Eville Eye (photos by others)
Emeryville’s Rotten City Cultural District Partners
City Hall has partnered with the following arts organizations and representatives:
- Compound Gallery
- Emeryville Celebration of the Arts
- 45th Street Artists' Cooperative
- Gallery 4509
- Jered’s Pottery
- Pixar Animation Studios
- Wareham Development
Partner Events #rottencityfertileground
- Compound Gallery Printing in the Park September 17, 2023
- Clay with Your Food at Jered's Pottery September 23, 2023
- Emeryville Celebration of the ArtsExhibition call/location of 37th Show – October 6- 27, 2023
- 45th Artists Cooperative 50thAnniversary Open Studios October 14 and 15
- Harvest Festival and Opening of Huichin Park and Your Way Public Art October 29, 2023
- Fishnet and Film Queer Film Festival September 17, 2023 at Tipsy Putt Trophy Room
Want to have an audio guided tour of the District? Or hear from some of the 20 artists featured in City Hall and the inspiration for their works?
Otocast (downloadable with this QR code) offers two smart phone guided audio tours:
- one for City Hall
- one for the makers in the District
Additional Historic Tours:
Park Avenue District Walking Tour
Emeryville, CAs Park Avenue District is chock full of beautiful warehouses and important historical sites that played vital roles in Industry, recreation and science. Notable sites on this self-guided walking tour include the Oakland Oaks Ball Park, the birthplace of modern greyhound racing, a steam car factory that almost revolutionized automobile manufacturing and other more notorious sites that helped give “The Rottenest City” its moniker.
For access to this walking tour see here: https://emeryvillehistorical.org/tours/park-avenue-district-walking-tour
The City, in partnership with the California Arts Council, and local partners: Pixar Animation Studios, Compound Gallery, Wareham Development, Emeryville Celebration of the Arts, the 45th Artists Cooperative, The Gallery at the Emery, and Jered’s Pottery (with a representative of the Public Art Committee included in partnership discussions) is seeking to:
- Establish a feasible pathway to the development and operations of Performing and Exhibition Center for the Arts in Emeryville
- Brand the district #rottencityfertileground with a series of marketing efforts working with artists for collateral material, signage, events and collaboration with local hospitality venues
- Support local artists in the exploration of new commercial endeavors, exposure to new markets and stabilization of housing
- Develop an event schedule and event programs that highlight local partners, artists and the Districts strengths and innovations and build momentum for the Performing and Exhibition Center’s programming
- Lead and or arrange tours of studio spaces, host open studios, expand audio tours and mapping and consider QR codes or icons for district assets
- Procure and complete design of signage, wayfinding, banners, projectors, art installations (e.g. mural of District) and/or other materials for a lasting designation of the District
The California Arts Council awarded the Rotten City Cultural District $671,000 to support these efforts between 2023 and 2025.
Background - Emeryville’s Rotten City Cultural District
An innovative district amid a Renaissance devoted to Art and creative production. Emeryville represents a different type of district, devoted to art production and including a wide variety of modern art forms such as animation, digital/video mapping compositions, and light as a media.
The consistent growth of the arts in Emeryville began when “mud flat art” started appearing overnight on its Shoreline. As the region transitioned from heavy industry to the modern economy, artists moved into available warehouses with the still thriving 45th Artists’ Cooperative celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023. As the Bay’s Eastern shore line was restored, and the city underwent significant redevelopment, partners such as Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville Celebration of the Arts, Wareham Development, 45th Street Artists Cooperative and Compound Gallery, help to grow, incubate, and fuse the arts district.
Designated as one of just 14 State recognized Cultural Districts, the Rotten City Cultural District is set apart from the other districts by its recognition as a center of makers and innovators. With a high per-capita presence of working artists and such cultural meccas as Pixar Studios and Compound Gallery, the Rotten City Cultural District runs the length of Emeryville and centered on the Hollis Street corridor where makers and innovators in the arts can be found east and west of the spine of Hollis Street, with Compound Gallery anchoring the north end and City Hall and Pixar Animation Studios at the south end. At the heart of the corridor, resplendent with a concentration of newly installed murals are Wareham Development’s Campus, the Emeryville Celebration of the Arts, the 45th Artists Cooperative, The Gallery at the Emery and Jered’s Pottery. The Rotten City Cultural District is a place where art is produced, displayed, and the creative economy is celebrated in Emeryville, a City of Art and Innovation.
Art by Lily Therens, Interior mural at Tipsy Putt, Bay Street, Emeryville
Just as food is celebrated when served farm to table, the City formerly known as the Rottenest City west of Mississippi proves with its cultural District that the rotten city creates fertile ground, with cultural assets in the District including but not limited to:
As murals proliferated across the District beginning with the SeaWalls Festival hosted by PangeaSeed Foundation in September 2023, murals that include references to the public art found in Emeryville have only begun to reveal the hidden treasures of the District.
Credit Nigel Sussman, Mural on Sherwin at Horton
Contact Amber Evans at email@example.com