Categories: News

Local Arts Organizations May Get a Rare Financial Boost


The success of the hotel industry could directly fund arts programs that advocates say attract visitors from around the world, should San Francisco voters support a ballot measure this November.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously sent a measure to the November ballot that increases funding for arts programs around the city — without raising any taxes or taking money from a specific department. An 8 percent base tax on hotel rooms already exists and otherwise goes into the general fund but the measure dedicates 1.5 percent to arts programs. Another six percent surcharge tax levied on hotel rooms would also be left to the general fund.

If the measure receives two-thirds of voters’ approval, roughly $113 million would go toward cultural organizations, districts, centers and the San Francisco Arts Commission starting in 2019 if the measure receives two-thirds approval from voters.

More than 70 related organizations, like Calle 24 Latino Cultural District and San Francisco Grants for the Arts, are on board with the measure already.

“We have almost everyone’s support for this,” said Vinay Patel of the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center in San Francisco. “This is something that is visionary.”

A coalition of arts and culture organizations advocated for the measure on the steps of City Hall before the Board of Supervisors meeting, which Supervisors Katy Tang, Aaron Peskin, Rafael Mandelman, and Sandra Lee Fewer joined. Speakers pointed to the measure as a direct solution to keeping the cultural lifeblood of San Francisco alive, including its public school students.

“Arts education has a profound effect on youth,” said Ron Gallman, education programs director of the San Francisco Symphony. “It’s time to restore this respect for arts and culture so San Francisco can continue to thrive.”

In true artistic fashion, one medium of persuasion was a “people’s choir,” which Rachel Lastimosa of SOMA Pilipinas led and the audience repeated. The lyrics are too good not to sample:

“San Francisco how you’ve changed (San Francisco how you’ve changed)
Your population’s rearranged (your population’s rearranged)
Displaced families in the streets (displaced families in the streets)
Now it’s time to change the beat (now it’s time to change the beat)

All the money coming in (all the money coming in)
from all the global tourism (from all the global tourism)
Arts and culture’s what we choose (arts and culture’s what we choose)
No, we can’t afford to lose (no, we can’t afford to lose)”

No word on whether San Franciscans will hear this particular people’s choir,but it hints at a fun, creative campaign for November.

“The medium is going to be the message,” Peskin said.

Ida Mojadad

Ida Mojadad is the Staff Writer at SF Weekly. You can reach her at (415)-359-2728 or imojadad@sfweekly.com. Follow her on Twitter at @idamoj.

Published by
Ida Mojadad
Tags: Aaron Peskin Actors' Equity Association arts agency leaders arts and culture coalition Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center Katy Tang Rafael Mandelman San Francisco Arts Commission Sandra Lee Fewer somarts tourist industy

Recent Posts

  • News
  • Top Stories

Howard and Folsom to Get $36M in Safety Improvements

If you bike in San Francisco, no corridor may be more dangerous than Howard Street in SoMa. Since 2016, four…

2 mins ago
  • News
  • Top Stories

Fire Breaks out Near Spark Social in Mission Bay

Clouds of black smoke could be seen over Mission Bay Tuesday afternoon. The San Francisco Fire Department reports it's a…

38 mins ago
  • News
  • Top Stories

Redstone Organizers Seek City’s Help to Finalize Sale

The nonprofit world breathed a sigh of relief when the Mission Economic Development Agency announced in May that it would…

1 hour ago
  • Comedy
  • Culture
  • Drag
  • The Exhibitionist

Trixie and Katya Take Clusterfest Back to School

When the opportunity for Trixie Mattel to attend her 10-year high school reunion arrived, she wasn’t able to make an…

3 hours ago
  • Dining
  • SFoodie

YET MORE CLOSURES: ‘Aina and Southpaw BBQ Call It Quits

Barely 24 hours after Mission Pie announced that it will wind down its operations by Labor Day, San Francisco was…

5 hours ago
  • News

Cash Fares for Muni Rise to $3

Despite citywide dissatisfaction with the state of Muni, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will increase fares to its…

5 hours ago