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Dear community,

We need you to speak on behalf of Cultural Equity and the San Francisco Arts Commission this Friday May 20 at 9am at City Hall to speak to the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee during Public Comment.

This is an important time to have your voice heard. There are two issues facing San Francisco’s arts community. One is fair and equitable funding to all communities and the other is increased investment in the arts.

Increased Investment
The city’s budget has been growing and as the city is going through its budget process there has been significant increased investment to many departments; but that same level investment has not been seen at the San Francisco Arts Commission. Increasing the budget, not just through reallocation, sets precedent for the budget size for future years.  In this time of displacement, the needs for the historically under capitalized groups are becoming exponentially greater. We need more money for the arts and for that money to be equitably distributed.

San Francisco Grants for the Arts
Recently the San Francisco’s Budget Analyst’s Office conducted a study on San Francisco Grants for the Arts and their funding to diverse communities. Read it here http://www.sfbos.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=48407

The report had very eye opening and disturbing findings when it came to the funding practices; including the fact that GFTA’s funding to cultural communities has dropped in the last 6 years while their budget has risen and that only 23% of funding has been distributed to cultural communities of color though people of color now make up for 58% of the population. These facts are coupled with the response from GFTA that they do not have a answer why it is so, or a directive to make change. This has been happening in San Francisco, which is supposed to celebrate diversity.

Cultural equity is a value that all City Departments should have ingrained in their cores. The sole responsibility should not stand the mere fact that there is a funding program that exists to address it.  And that program is woefully underfunded and not seen an increase in a decade.

There have been rumors that the Supervisor’s are going to take action to move monies from SFGFTA to SFAC’s Cultural Equity Grants Program. It is NOT a funding cut to the arts – as it as been erroneously been reported . It’s a reallocation based on accountability and justice. The total investment in the arts is not affected.

During last year’s budget committee meetings SFGFTA promised the Supervisors and the City of San Francisco to make changes with their increase in funding they were to receive.

See video here: https://vimeo.com/68826111

Those changes did not happen and when paired with the Budget Analyst report the Supervisors might take action. This issue is about cultural equity and accountability. If people are claiming Cultural Equity is important then shouldn’t it be important now and not later? When should it be addressed? At GFTA it’s been over 25 years. Exactly when is it most convenient for those who might feel the pinch to address cultural equity?

Please take some time to read the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy Report by Holly Sidford about fusing foundation priorities for funding arts, culture and social change

Are there answers?
The 2006 San Francisco Arts Task Force had a number of recommendations that would end this struggle including having 1 department of Cultural Affairs that would encompass both departments under one value structure.

Here is a link to the report: http://www.sfartscommission.org/annual_report/SF_ArtsTaskForceReport.pdf

How can you help:

  1. Write to the  San Francisco Board of Supervisors to increase the budget for SFAC’s Cultural Equity Grants program, not only with any monies that they might move over as a temporary measure, but NEW investment that sets precedent for years to come.
  2. Ask the Supervisors to hold those making false promises for cultural equity accountable.   John.Avalos@sfgov.org, London.Breed@sfgov.org, David.Campos@sfgov.org, David.Chiu@sfgov.org, Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org, Mark.Farrell@sfgov.org, Jane.Kim@sfgov.org, Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org, Katy.Tang@sfgov.org, Scott.Wiener@sfgov.org, Norman.Yee.BOS@sfgov.org,
  3. Come out and make your voice heard on these matters at the community public comment process this Friday at City Hall starting at 9am.  There will be a rally outside city hall starting at 9am.
  4. Tell others about this message and sign up for the culturalequitymatters mailing list (located to the right)