Last spring the San Francisco’s City’s Budget Analyst Harvey Rose conducted a lengthy study of Grants for the Arts and found that communities of color received less than 24% of the agency’s grant monies, while they represent 57% of San Francisco’s population. Rose’s report contends that since 2006, GFTA’s funding to communities of color have been trending downward. In response, the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee transferred over $300,000 originally allocated to GFTA to the Arts Commission’s Cultural Equity Grants program.
The City’s funding inequities will not disappear overnight nor without the Mayor and Board’s acknowledgement that the problem exists. The solution is simple and straightforward: Increase monies to SFAC’s Cultural Equity Grants, which addresses cultural equity, and have no budget increase allocated to GFTA until the agency publicly demonstrates its commitment to cultural equity.
This solution affirms that all arts forms are neither more nor less important than others and consequently, no one form should receive the bulk of the city’s arts dollars. It also affirms that community art and artists can make a profound impact by preserving, promoting and fostering cultural expressions that authentically reflect the lives and experiences of all of San Francisco’s culturally diverse residents.
This solution will not take away grant dollars from the non-profit arts groups the City currently funds. GFTA’s general operating grants play a valuable role in the arts community’s stabilization and they should continue doing so.
We ask the Mayor, Supervisors, and all artists and arts groups to join in recognizing the existence of funding disparities and commit for equitable funding allocations using the same criteria through fair and transparent process for all arts groups, thereby promoting cultural, social, economic and health equity for all San Franciscans. We also ask for the Mayor and Supervisors to increase the investment to the arts overall so that equity can be achieved!