Temporary Live Music Program Would Be Made Permanent Under Pending Legislation
Proposal would provide an opportunity for 200+ permitted venues, bars, restaurants, and other businesses to sustain their outdoor entertainment and amplified sound activities beyond the pandemic
San Francisco, CA — A temporary live music program started during the pandemic would be made permanent under pending legislation introduced by Mayor London N. Breed. Building off the success of the Just Add Music (JAM) Permit program, which has allowed businesses to offer safe and accessible outdoor entertainment, the permanent program will provide small businesses additional space to host local entertainers.
“Entertainment and the arts are an important part of our City’s economy and culture,” said Mayor Breed. “Thanks to the work of the Entertainment Commission, this program provided a lifeline for our artists and musicians to survive through the pandemic, and brought life back to our communities. As our City recovers, we need to do everything we can to support our small businesses and local entertainers, including making our Shared Spaces program permanent and passing the Small Business Recovery Act, which will provide an opportunity for outdoor locations to continue offering entertainment after the pandemic.”
Launched in September 2020, in response to the need voiced by the small business and arts community, the Entertainment Commission administered the JAM Permit program to help businesses, organizations, and individuals hold responsible entertainment activity at Shared Spaces and other outdoor locations. The temporary program provides a free streamlined pathway for the arts, entertainment, and nightlife sectors to support their business livelihoods by adding music and other cultural activity. In addition, the JAM program facilitated creative solutions to support businesses attract customers, backfill lost revenues, and employ local artists and entertainers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The JAM permit program has been a successful intervention to help our struggling entertainment and nightlife industry weather the pandemic with safer outdoor activity, and to keep our neighborhoods vibrant with arts and cultural experiences during a tremendously isolating time,” says Maggie Weiland, Executive Director of the Entertainment Commission. “By transitioning these permits to permanent outdoor entertainment spaces, we are increasing the industry’s capacity for long-term recovery and success.”
Since its launch, the JAM program has received a high level of participation from small businesses and has issued 250 permits at outdoor locations, including 200+ businesses with daily or weekly entertainment and amplified sound activity. Restaurants (55%) and bars (33%) make up 88% of permits issued, with 11% of businesses identifying as live music venues and nightclubs.
“As a small business owner, I had to reinvent myself throughout the pandemic constantly,” said Aurore Martinez, Owner and Founder of Cocotte. “The JAM permit, along with the Shared Spaces program, allowed me to maintain a successful business and bring new life and color to the neighborhood. The joy that comes with providing live music and outdoor gathering space is a constant reminder of why I opened my restaurant, and it reaffirms my love for this City.”
“The JAM permit has allowed the SOMA Pilipinas Arts and Culture Community to jumpstart our recovery,” says Desi Danganan, Executive Director of Kultivate Labs. “We’ve been able to transform an abandoned City parking lot into a vibrant garden and performance space that draws all sectors of our community from punk bands to seniors to gather safely outdoors. The crowds that come to Kapwa Gardens to enjoy music and performances has created additional opportunities for vendors to sell food and accelerate our economic recovery.”
The JAM Permit program is currently tied to the declaration of a local state of emergency due to COVID-19 and is set to expire December 31, 2021. Under the permanent proposal from Mayor Breed and the Entertainment Commission, eligible businesses with existing JAM permits will have the opportunity to transfer their outdoor permit to brick and mortar locations or transfer the use for a one-time event. All transfer applicants must comply with standard public noticing, neighborhood outreach, and public meeting requirements.
The JAM Permit aligns with and enhances San Francisco’s Shared Spaces program by creating a pathway for businesses to add safe, vibrant cultural activity to outdoor dining and retail spaces. Launched in June 2020, Shared Spaces allows neighborhood businesses to share a portion of the public right-of-way, such as sidewalks, streets, or other nearby public or private spaces for dining and retail activity, as allowed by San Francisco’s Public Health Order. Due to widespread success, on March 12, Mayor Breed announced legislation to transition Shared Spaces from an emergency response into a permanent program through and after the pandemic.
Both Shared Spaces and the JAM Permit program were essential lifelines for San Francisco small businesses and local entertainers throughout the pandemic and, will play a key role in our City’s economic recovery.
“I applaud Mayor Breed for supporting this critical next step in recovering our industry for years to come,” says Ben Bleiman, President of the Entertainment Commission. “This plan is potentially transformational for small businesses and artists as it gives them an unprecedented opportunity to increase revenue and reach larger audiences.”
“By making outdoor entertainment activities possible, the JAM Permit program opens the door to economic recovery for San Francisco businesses and our local artists,” says Kate Sofis, Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “The arts have been essential to comforting residents during the pandemic and now that we’re open, music and entertainment are sure to create opportunities for lively community engagement that bolsters the vibrancy of our neighborhoods. The JAM program provides local establishments and our performing artists the flexibility they need to thrive.”
"Being able to easily obtain a permit to have music through the JAM program makes our events so much easier to produce,” says Cal Callahan, District Manager of the LEATHER & LGBTQ Cultural District. “Having music creates a festive atmosphere and attracts additional passersby as we have seen at our SOMA Second Saturdays! art and artisans events. This is essential to achieve our goals of providing artists and artisans a place to sell their wares while bringing more business to local restaurants, bars, and shops. We hope the program continues into the future as we expand the number and scale of outdoor events that we create and promote."
The Small Business Recovery Act and Shared Spaces legislation that Mayor Breed introduced will make the program permanent allowing residents, businesses, and organizations to continue enjoying outdoor entertainment at their favorite small business. Additionally, the permanent program creates a clear path forward for new JAM Permit applicants and makes several programmatic adjustments to ensure equity and inclusion, and maintain accessibility and public access.
If you are interested in applying for a JAM Permit, please click here. Businesses with questions about the permit process can get assistance by visiting the website or contacting the San Francisco Entertainment Commission with additional questions: firstname.lastname@example.org, 628-652-6030.