Mayor London Breed Announces Funding to Fill Gap in Arts Budgets Due to COVID-19
Mayor Breed’s budget proposal will include $16.2 million from the General Fund to backfill the loss of hotel taxes, which fund San Francisco arts organizations This budget investment is in addition to the City’s Guaranteed Income for Artists pilot program, which is issuing first payments today
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced her upcoming City budget will include a significant investment to ensure that arts and cultural programs are able to operate, grow, and recover in San Francisco. The hotel tax was projected to provide arts organizations with $60 million over the next two years, but due to the loss of hotel tax revenues due to COVID-19, there is a significant gap. The Mayor’s proposed budget will address that gap with a $16.2 million General Fund subsidy over two years. This funding builds on the City’s efforts to support San Francisco artists and arts organizations, including the Guaranteed Income for Artists pilot program, which officially begins today with the first payments of $1,000 to 130 artists. The Guaranteed Income for Artists, operated in partnership with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), just received a significant new $3.46 million contribution from #StartSmall, Jack Dorsey’s philanthropic initiative to YBCA, which is helping to extend the pilot by 12 months and support additional artists.
“The arts are an important part of our city’s economy and soul. They draw people to San Francisco – they make people want to visit our city, and to explore and learn about the communities that make San Francisco the special place that it is,” said Mayor Breed. “In this moment we need to do everything we can to support the Arts and our artists, so they can continue helping us lead the City’s recovery.”
Dedicated funding for arts and cultural programs is provided by revenue generated from the hotel tax, in accordance with Proposition E, which was passed by voters in 2018 and allocates 1.5% of hotel tax revenue to the arts. Prop E allows for the arts and culture programs funded by the measure to grow by a maximum of 10% each year. This funding supports Grants for the Arts, Cultural Districts, the Arts Impact Endowment, Cultural Centers, and the Cultural Equity Endowment, which fund a variety of arts and culture organizations and individual artists throughout San Francisco.
As a result of COVID-19, revenues from hotel taxes dropped, leading to a shortfall in funding for arts organizations. Mayor Breed’s budget proposal makes up the difference of that budget gap to ensure that arts organizations can continue to operate and recover, and provides funding from the General Fund to allow arts budgets to grow by 10% in FY 2021-22 and another 10% in FY 2022-23 to a total of $28.5 million and $31.4 million, respectively.
In March 2021, Mayor Breed and the Board of Supervisors passed a mid-year budget supplemental that included $24 million to backfill hotel tax losses in the current fiscal year. In addition to backfilling funding for FY 2020-21, the supplemental included a $5 million to put toward future budget years. The Mayor’s proposed budget for FY 2021-22 and 2022-23 builds on that $5 million down payment by proposing another $13.6 million to fill the remaining budget gap in FY 2021-22, and $2.6 million to fill the gap projected in FY 2022-23.
Part of the City’s funding for arts and cultural organizations is allocated to the Arts Impact Endowment. In response to COVID-19 and based on the feedback and recommendations from the Economic Recovery Task Force and the focus groups they conducted, the City has directed funding from the Arts Impact Endowment to support the recovery of arts and culture nonprofits. This funding has supported the newly created Guaranteed Income for Artists program, which supports artists living and working in the City of San Francisco who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The City has partnered with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) to provide $1,000 in guaranteed income for six months for 130 San Francisco artists. YBCA issued the first round of payments to artists today, May 21. The program is going to be extended for another 12 months and support additional San Francisco artists, thanks to a $3.46 million donation from #StartSmall to YBCA. For more information about the program, go ybca.org/guaranteed-income-pilot-expansion/
The arts are an essential part of San Francisco’s vibrancy and will continue to play an important role in the City’s recovery from COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, San Francisco has supported artists, and arts and cultural organizations with a variety of funding and programs. In addition to continuing investments in existing programs like Grants for the Arts, the City has advanced several programs in direct response to the pandemic.
In March 2020, the City launched a Relief Fund for Artists and the Arts, which provided $2.75 million in grants for artists and arts organizations. The City launched the Creative Corps pilot program, which paid local artists to create public health PSAs and funded murals throughout San Francisco in partnership with Paint the Void. San Francisco also selected four regional artists of color to serve as the Artists in Residence at the COVID-19 Command Center (CCC), and commissioned a mural in the Mission District’s Clarion Alley. The City has provided funding to help the arts and culture sector reopen safely and has pivoted to providing more general operating rather than project-based grants for the arts. Additionally, the City is supporting arts educators and teaching artists most impacted by COVID-19 and has funded a web-based Arts Hub, which offers a one-stop resource for organizations to find information about funding, grants, resources, training, and educational materials.
“Art and Culture has always been the soul of San Francisco,” said Vallie Brown, Director of Grants for the Arts. “It’s imperative we keep arts organizations and artists whole to keep San Francisco healthy. As the saying goes, ‘life is short, art is long.’”
“Being fairly new to San Francisco, it is incredible to see the depth and breadth of support Mayor Breed demonstrates for our arts community,” stated Director of Cultural Affairs Ralph Remington. “I’ve worked all over the country, and this kind of broad-stroke financial support accompanied by targeted resources for all sectors of the arts community, with a consistent focus on racial equity, should be a national model for investing in our sector.”
“Throughout the course of the pandemic, each of the Cultural Districts have gone beyond their purview of working to preserve and strengthen their cultural community, by partnering with the City to respond to the immediate needs of their communities,” said Eric Shaw, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. “Under the Mayor’s leadership, with this funding investment, the Cultural Districts will be able to continue their work of promoting community stabilization and supporting culture, art and place-keeping as a key part of the City’s recovery.”
Proposition E Arts Funding
Prop E funding supports investments in arts and cultural programs including Grants for the Arts, the Cultural Equity Endowment, City-owned Cultural Centers, Arts Impact Endowment, and Cultural Districts. The funding is administered by the Grants for the Arts in the City Administrator’s Office, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, and the Arts Commission.
Under the oversight of the City Administrator’s Office, Grants for the Arts provides general operating support to arts nonprofits. Administered by the Arts Commission, the Cultural Equity Endowment supports small to mid-sized arts organizations that serve historically underserved communities and individual artists. City-owned community cultural centers provide accessible arts opportunities for all San Franciscans; there are the African American Art & Culture Complex, Bayview Opera House, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, SOMArts, Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center and the Queer Cultural Center. Funding also goes to support the City’s eight Cultural Districts, which currently include the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District, SOMA Pilipinas – Filipino Cultural Heritage District, Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, Japantown, the Transgender Cultural District in the Tenderloin, Leather LGBTQ Cultural District in SoMa, the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District in the Bayview, and the American Indian Cultural District. Lastly, the Arts Commission and Grants for the Arts administer the Arts Impact Endowment, which addresses critical needs in the arts and culture sector.