City Directs $12.8 Million to Arts, With Focus on Black and Trans Communities

The Grants for the Arts’ annual fund will be distributed to 227 organizations.

Year after year, the Grants for the Arts, an annual fund that sources money from a hotel tax, funnels millions into San Francisco theater companies, cultural centers and festivals. In 2020, the pressures are noticeably higher, with the COVID-19 pandemic stripping most arts organizations of their event revenue, and the Black Lives Matter movement casting scrutiny on San Francisco’s inequitable arts scene

This year, the GFTA reviewed its fiscal year 2021 grants — which total $12.8 million — under a “strong equity lens,” according to a recent press release. They’ve also increased funding for organizations “deeply-rooted” in San Francisco’s Black and trans communities by an average of 34%.

“As a city that prides itself on its diversity, we must continue to distribute funds equitably and support organizations that serve communities in San Francisco who are most in need,” said Mayor London Breed in a press release.

These funds will be distributed to 227 arts and cultural organizations across the city, including the African-American Shakespeare Company, the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project and Fresh Meat Productions.

It’s an especially crucial time, as the city deals with two public health crises, businesses continue to shutter, and the pandemic continues with no end in sight. 

“Even before COVID-19, arts groups faced skyrocketing rents and other cost pressures,” city administrator Naomi M. Kelly said in a press release. “These funds will help organizations weather the tough economic times we currently face and emerge stronger after the pandemic.”

Grace Z. Li covers arts, culture and food for SF Weekly. You can reach her at or follow her on Twitter @gracezhali.


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