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The latest news and announcements from Mayor London N. Breed

Mayor London Breed and City Attorney David Chiu Announce $2.5 Million to Support Entertainment Venues and Launch New Outdoor Live Performance Series

SF Live Initiative will fund the production of a series of outdoor events in partnership with San Francisco’s local venues

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and City Attorney David Chiu today announced a $2.5 million investment to promote and support the live music and entertainment sector in San Francisco. The funding will support the SF Live Initiative, which will produce a new series of live performances presented by local entertainment venues at outdoor parks and plazas in 2022. 

The goals of the initiative are to showcase and support the San Francisco music and entertainment sector, boost neighborhood vitality and enhance the City’s economic recovery through arts and culture. Funding through SF Live will cover the costs of producing this outdoor event series as well as stipends to participating entertainment venues, who will curate talent lineups and market the performances. The $2.5 million investment is funded through an allocation from the California State Legislature led by City Attorney David Chiu, when he was an Assemblymember.

“Our local venues are an indispensable part of San Francisco’s culture and economy. They’re places where longtime residents have been seeing shows for years and where visitors can catch their favorite band when they’re in town. They’re where people get to know their neighbors, start relationships, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Our local venues were the first to shut down and the last to reopen due to COVID-19. We want to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to not only recover from the pandemic, but help lead our economic and nightlife recovery,” said Mayor Breed.

“San Francisco is famous for our live performances that bring our communities together and make our neighborhoods vibrant,” said City Attorney David Chiu. “I was more than happy to secure state funding as an Assemblymember to start this initiative and support our live performance venues. The SF Live Initiative should serve as a model for ongoing investment in outdoor live performances.”

To complement the outdoor performance series, SF Live will also fund the development of coordinated marketing and branding for San Francisco’s music and entertainment industry as well as a promotional campaign to encourage residents and visitors to attend local live entertainment venues. SF Live will be developed and refined in partnership with venues and stakeholders. The initiative aims to launch next year in 2022.

“Live performances are a critical economic driver in San Francisco. We know that our entertainment venues faced significant pre-pandemic challenges. As the City emerges out of the pandemic, live entertainment will play a major role in our economic recovery,” Kate Sofis, Executive Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “This initiative will showcase our many amazing music venues, offer new performance opportunities for local musicians, and emphasize San Francisco’s role as a vibrant place to live, work, and visit.”

The pandemic forced live entertainment venues to temporarily stop hosting in-person performances. While these restrictions were an important element of the City’s comprehensive public health and safety strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19, this shutdown had a significant financial impact on performing artists and the venues that host them. Many local venues have begun hosting performances again, bringing long-missed energy back to neighborhoods across San Francisco." 

“I want to commend Mayor Breed and City Attorney Chiu for this incredible innovation, and associated funding, to help reinvigorate the music world of San Francisco,” said Lynn Schwarz, co-owner of Bottom of the Hill and spokesperson for the Independent Venue Alliance. “We venues have been through so many difficult times, most recently due to the long closure at the hands of COVID, and having an easy pathway to produce outdoor events is a really exciting development. We need San Francisco to once again be known for its music, so that we can attract tourists, musicians, and venues back to this city and commit to making music a part of our identity. Everyone wins when a city invests in building up music.”

SF Live is closely aligned with other successful pandemic-response efforts to facilitate outdoor activity and support the local music and entertainment sector. Over the pandemic, Mayor Breed led several important programs to increase access to outdoor commercial and cultural activities, including the Shared Spaces program and the Just Add Music outdoor entertainment permit. Both of these programs are now permanent—adding to the City’s economic recovery tools.

“Live music and San Francisco are synonymous as our City is the birthplace of the modern concert business,” said Casey Lowdermilk, Co-Founder of the San Francisco Venue Coalition. “Venues and events are essential to our economic recovery and contribute to the strength of our neighborhoods and small businesses. They act as cultural beacons not only for those visiting but also for our fellow San Franciscans. The San Francisco Venue Coalition is grateful to City Attorney Chiu and Mayor Breed for this effort as it will reinforce these values and jumpstart the City’s recovery.”

San Francisco previously allocated $3 million to the San Francisco Music and Entertainment Venue Recovery Fund, which provided financial support to 70 San Francisco venues before those businesses could access federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant relief. City staff is also encouraging local entertainment venues to apply for the new $150 million statewide California Venues Grant Program, which is currently open through the California Office of the Small Business Advocate.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, San Francisco has provided immediate and ongoing support for small businesses, including making available more than $63 million in grants and loans to support more than 3,000 small businesses, in addition to tens of millions of dollars in fee and tax deferrals, and assistance applying for state and federal funding. This includes legislation introduced and signed by Mayor Breed to waive $5 million in fees and taxes for entertainment and nightlife venues and small restaurants.