Mayor Breed’s Arts Relief Program will dole out $2.5 million, possibly more if outside donors step up, which is still just a drop in the hat amidst months of cancelled events.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has been laudably proactive in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the first major city mayor in the U.S. to enact shelter in place orders, calling off evictions during the crisis, and at the tail end of last week instituting free child care for overworked health service providers. Her latest gambit against the economic gut-punch of cancelled events as far as the eye can see is a $2.5 million arts sector bailout that she just announced this morning, which may end up being somewhat paltry given the staggering loss of revenue that community is experiencing.
Today we’re announcing a $2.5 million Arts Relief Program to invest directly in working artists and arts and cultural organizations, as part of our efforts to help those impacted by coronavirus.— London Breed (@LondonBreed) March 23, 2020
More information here: https://t.co/gB6opW3xt5
“This community is also getting hit hard right now as people are suffering from job loss, business closures, and economic disruption during the COVID-19 outbreak,” Breed said in a release. “We need to do everything we can to stabilize our arts community now. I hope our public investment will encourage private donors to join us in supporting our vulnerable artists during this challenging time.”
But that $2.5 million — and again, the Wilseys, Fishers, and other philanthropic billionaire types have been approached about kicking in more — may be nowhere near adequate. What you see above is not “modern art,” it’s paintings at the deYoung Museum, which are in a state of preservation as the place is shut down. That facility is losing its shirt on the Frida Kahlo exhibition that was supposed to open yesterday, and the Chronicle reports that the local arts community is likely to lose $48 million over the prolonged shutdowns, and possibly as much as $73 million with a loss of donations from the suddenly deliquidified investor community.
To put that in human terms; the American Conservatory Theater’s closure has already resulted in 230 layoffs. San Francisco Ballet dancers who are here on work visas will be forced to head back to their home countries for not having “worked” in 30 days (and can they even fly home with travel restrictions in effect?). The San Francisco Symphony says they’re losing $2 million per month.
But if you’re an artist type, you’re most interested in the money available. It’s split into two parts: $1.5 million is in “grants to individual artists, teaching artists, and small- to mid- budget sized arts and cultural organizations,” with a priority toward artists who are “black, indigenous, immigrant, trans, and people with disabilities.” Individuals can apply for up to $2,000, groups can apply for between $5,000 and $25,000, depending on their size. Another $1 million in loans will be available to “small- to mid-budget sized arts and cultural organizations.”
Though not encouragingly, the signup page for the grants on the Center for Cultural Innovation website at this time simply says “Information coming soon!”
SF Weekly notes in their report that there are already several crowdfunding efforts underway in this capacity, including drives for Noise Pop and a general Safety Net Fund for Bay Area artists. We would add that you can also kick in to campaigns to help the Queer Nightlife Fund, DNA Lounge, The Stud, Oasis, and Public Works.
Image: San Francisco Ballet