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Musician Esperanza Spalding Is Raising Money to Build a “BIPOC Artist Sanctuary” in North Portland

Called the City Sanctuary, it would include a cafe, an “eco-poetics reading room,” a half-acre organic garden and two “garden studios.”

Grammy-winning jazz and R&B musician Esperanza Spalding has launched a crowdfunding campaign to establish a “BIPOC artist sanctuary” in her hometown of Portland.

Spalding is looking to raise $300,000 to help purchase a 0.75-acre property in St. Johns, which she plans to turn into a multifaceted creative space catering to artists of color. Called the City Sanctuary, it would include a cafe, an “eco-poetics reading room,” a half-acre organic garden and two garden studios. A basement recording studio would act as an extension of the Songwriting Apothecary Lab, Spalding’s recently launched music therapy project.

Though not open to the public, the sanctuary would host long-term artist residencies.

According to a press release, Spalding, who grew up in the King neighborhood in Northeast Portland, first envisioned the project after graduating from college in 2005 but was spurred to make it a reality after returning to Oregon from New York during the pandemic.

“My intention and prayer with building this sanctuary is to support the creation of restorative art, in a truly restorative environment,” Spalding wrote on the project’s GoFundMe page.

The property is currently under contract. Spalding is asking for 300 individual donations of $1,000 by June 3 to complete the sale, with contributors receiving an invitation to an exclusive Zoom concert by Spalding.