130 San Francisco artists who live in zip codes “hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic” will be eligible for $1,000 a month under a Guaranteed Income Pilot program that opened for applications on Thursday.
Back in October 2020, SFist reported on a small detail tucked into a report from the SF Economic Recovery Task Force (ERTF) that a Basic Income Pilot for Artists “will provide up to 130 artists with $1,000 a month for at least six months starting early next year.” People, that program is now officially a reality, and you can apply today. KQED reports that the Guaranteed Income Pilot program for struggling artists pays $1,000 a month for six consecutive months, no strings attached, and the application process just opened up Thursday morning.
Let’s cut to the chase — the application form is here, on the website of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), which is administering the grants. You must be an artist 18 years old or older and live in one of 13 zip codes “determined by the city of San Francisco’s data on areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic” (you can find these 13 zip codes in the FAQ here). You also have to be “an artist whose artistic practice is rooted in a historically marginalized community,” and prove loss of income under COVID-19. The application window is open until April 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PT.
The Chronicle adds that “YBCA will manage the program and use a partially computerized system to determine eligibility to select 130 local artists, with the process randomized in the later stages.”
Now accepting applications for our new guaranteed income pilot program for artists in San Francisco!— London Breed (@LondonBreed) March 25, 2021
$1,000/month for six months for more than 100 eligible artists.
Learn more about the program and apply by April 15: https://t.co/WgrFfdSX1y pic.twitter.com/MuVZoC45c4
“This program is one of several guaranteed income pilots that we’re developing in San Francisco,” Breed told the Chronicle. She added in a statement, “This new program is an innovative effort to help our creative sector get through this challenging time, and come back even stronger and more resilient than before.”
The artists receiving the grants are not required to do anything in return. But YBCA CEO Deborah Cullinan told KQED that they will ask the artists to complete occasional surveys about how the guaranteed income payments are affecting their lives. “You can’t demand things of people, but we do need data,” she told the station.
Note that this is described as a pilot program, so it might be a one-time shot, or there could be extensions and expansions. Note also that Breed said this is “one of several guaranteed income pilots that we’re developing,” so there may be more to come (Sup. Matt Haney has said he would propose a basic income program). Stockton’s $500 a month basic income program has generally been considered a success, and Oakland is launching a similar program that purports to be the largest of its kind in the nation.
These UBI programs have long been a fashionable utopian idea, but the economic wreckage of COVID-19 — for most of us — has pushed lawmakers find a way to try it out. The Entrepreneur magazine website ran an article yesterday with the entirely accurate headline “America's Billionaires Got $1.3 Trillion Richer During the Pandemic, While Over 76 Million People Lost Jobs,” so maybe circumstances do call for utopian measures to stop the U.S. economy’s dystopian trajectory.
Image: Juliana Huxtable, Lil’ Marvel, 2015, via Yerba Buena Center for the Arts