Mayor London Breed Announces San Francisco Creative Corps to Support Artists and Promote Public Health
The San Francisco Creative Corps pilot program will provide economic opportunities for 60 visual and performance artists, while also promoting public health during global COVID-19 pandemic
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced the launch of the San Francisco Creative Corps pilot program to support artists and promote public health through art. The San Francisco Creative Corps pilot will provide economic opportunities for 60 San Francisco performance artists and visual artists who are underemployed due to COVID-19. The program is part of Mayor Breed’s ongoing focus on economic recovery and slowing the spread of COVID-19 in San Francisco.
This holiday season, performing artists, including actors, musicians, and dancers, will be deployed as Community Health Ambassadors to creatively promote COVID-safe behavior. The Community Health Ambassadors will be deployed to areas have the greatest need for COVID-19 outreach, including Shared Spaces corridors, streets with outdoor restaurants, parks, and other high foot traffic areas. The City will also engage 30 visual artists to beautify storefronts with public health-themed murals in neighborhoods experiencing high rates of COVID-19. The first round of San Francisco Creative Corps’ Community Health Ambassadors will start this Saturday, November 21. The program will bring on 30 ambassadors who will be activated throughout the city on weekends during the upcoming holidays.
“Many artists and performers are out of work due to COVID and are looking for ways to pay their bills and make a living while also pursuing their artistic interests,” said Mayor Breed. “This new program supports artists financially while also reminding community members to stay safe this holiday season. San Francisco’s artists and cultural organizations are what make our city such a vibrant place, and we need to do all we can to support them. The Creative Corps is an innovate approach to help our artists during this difficult time, and will bring some joy and fun to public spaces throughout the City.”
The San Francisco Creative Corps program advances Mayor Breed’s efforts to support artists, arts, and culture organizations as part of San Francisco’s economic recovery. In recognition of the severe and ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19 on the arts and entertainment sector, as well as the importance of the arts to San Francisco’s identity, the Economic Recovery Task Force recommended that the City invest in supporting artists through programs like this one. In addition to supporting the arts, the Task Force recommended pursuing job connections, promoting safe reopening, and advancing racial equity, which this program fulfills with its focus on public health and investing in San Francisco’s diverse communities.
“San Francisco’s artistic communities are integral to our recovery efforts and the ongoing cultural and economic vitality of the city. By empowering artists, musicians, performers and muralists through Creative Corps, we’re cultivating an ecosystem where San Francisco artists can expand their contributions to the communities they live in and care for,” said Joaquín Torres, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “Innovative programs such as Creative Corps will promote public health and safety messaging, support local businesses, and create jobs, while bringing inspiration and holiday cheer into our shared and public spaces.”
The City is funding the SF Creative Corps with $250,000 from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), and is working with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) and Paint the Void to administer the program. YBCA will administer the Community Health Ambassadors component of the Creative Corps program. YBCA will select artists in partnership with three local performing arts organizations: San Francisco Bay Area Theater Company, Dance Mission, and SF Carnaval. The San Francisco Parks Alliance, in partnership with OEWD and the City’s COVID-19 Command Center, will assist with assigning Ambassadors to specific locations.
“The arts are a powerful tool for providing education and emotional healing, with a unique capacity to creatively communicate the need for public safety, while also delivering much-needed joy and inspiration,” said Deborah Cullinan, CEO, YBCA. “The SF Creative Corps connects San Francisco’s diverse and extensive creative community with the urgent civic needs that have been heightened by COVID-19, the resulting economic recession, and ongoing racial injustice. The pilot supports the city’s artists during this challenging time by offering them work and the chance to activate public spaces in service of our collective well-being. Thanks to our arts partners and the City and County of San Francisco, the SF Creative Corps will educate and inspire people to care for themselves and each other.”
In collaboration with the City and its three partner organizations, YBCA will train the Community Health Ambassadors on COVID-19 safety protocols and communications. YBCA will provide a workshop to support the ambassadors in developing their own unique projects, which can take any form they wish, from live music to drive-by-dance-a-thons to comedian sets.
In addition to funding Community Health Ambassadors, the SF Creative Corps program will support the development of murals that promote public health. The City is working with Paint the Void, a Bay Area initiative to match local artists with boarded up businesses to create murals as a response to the “void” left behind by COVID-19. Paint the Void will solicit local visual artists and match them with boarded up businesses to create temporary murals that encourage public health and safety conscious practices in neighborhoods affected most heavily by COVID-19. Artists that live in or have strong ties with the neighborhood selected for an installation will be prioritized. Murals will highlight behaviors that protect the community: wearing masks, avoiding gathering in large numbers, and staying indoors. Illuminate, an organization dedicated to expanding the City’s light art, will provide temporary lighting on many of the murals.
“The SF Creative Corps is an opportunity not only to bring beauty and joy to public spaces but also to support artists during an economically challenging time while educating communities with critical public health messaging,” says Inga Bard, co-founder of Paint the Void and Art for Civil Discourse. “Art has the power to ignite public imagination towards a deeper understanding of how the virus spreads and how our actions can protect our families, friends, and neighbors.”
San Francisco visual artists are invited to submit their work to Paint the Void in order to be considered for this pilot by filling out this short form. For more information on the San Francisco Creative Corps Community Health Ambassadors, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Francisco Creative Corps complements San Francisco’s other efforts to support artists, including a new universal basic income pilot program for San Francisco artists, which will start early next year. The Arts Commission will also provide arts organizations with funding to reopen safely and will fund the creation of an online Arts Hub, which will serve as a one-stop-shop for artists and organizations looking for financial assistance, professional networking, and employment opportunities. Additionally, the Arts Commission has opened four other grant programs for artists, arts organizations, and cultural facilities. In August, Mayor Breed announced approximately $12.8 million in general operating support grants to fund 227 arts and cultural organizations that enhance the City’s cultural vibrancy. In March, Mayor Breed directed $2.5 million for an Arts Relief Program to invest directly in working artists and arts and cultural organizations financially impacted by COVID-19.