Bucking the Trend: Securing Affordable Spaces for the Arts

 

By Shelley Trott, Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures, Kenneth Rainin Foundation

I’ve spent a good part of my life in the arts—as a dancer and choreographer, teacher, filmmaker, and now a funder with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. The Foundation invests in visionary artists and small to mid-size arts organizations in the Bay Area that push the boundaries of creative expression. So when we began seeing their work threatened by a volatile real estate market, we had to seek a solution.

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The Art of Advocacy

By Demone Carter

Online Commons Contributor

Tension are high within the arts sector with the news of the Trump administration’s credible threat to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Both institutions were founded in 1965 as independent agencies of the federal government to ensure that millions of Americans would have access to arts and culture. Inherent within their creation is the belief that the arts and culture are important to civic life.

Both the NEA and NEH represent a tiny fraction of the federal budget, receiving only $148M in 2016, or 0.0003% of the overall federal budget. Therefore, their proposed elimination would not signify a significant savings for the government. Rather, the rationale for putting the NEA and NEH on the chopping block is grounded in the cynical ideology we have come to expect from the Trump administration.

As a result, the current political context brings to the forefront the need for artists to engage with politics. If we do not, we risk being steamrolled to the margins of American society. Simply put: it is time for arts professionals to engage deeply and in more meaningful ways with the political system that affects the work we do and the communities we serve. Advocacy is the order of the day.

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Theatre Bay Area: Letter on President's Budget

 Urgent Letter from Theatre Bay Area to the theatre & arts community.

 

March 17, 2017

Dear Friends,

I am sure many of you have received the alarming, but not unexpected, news that the President’s budget proposes to eliminate the nation's cultural agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

First, let me be clear: the cultural heartbeat of our nation is in crisis.

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#ArtsDayOak Social Media Kit

On Tuesday March 21st, in conjunction with the National Arts Advocacy Day (Americans for the Arts), Oakland artists and advocates are launching a campaign to implore Oakland City Council members and Mayor Schaaf to take a real stand for development without displacement by investing in arts as a cultural preservation strategy, starting with $3 million to increase the Cultural Funding Program (keeping artists creating, working, teaching in Oakland) and to develop a deep community leadership process for the 2017 Citywide Cultural Plan.

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Be media ready for March 21st! #ArtsDaySF

SF ARTS ADVOCACY 2017 MEDIA KIT

 

Join an all-day campaign to reach out to your local elected officials through social media to thank them for their continued public investment in arts and culture, to encourage them to increase resources to the arts across SF, and to remind them of the value of cultural and creative expression as core to San Francisco values and identity as a city.

The goal is to have every SF Supervisor hear from #ArtsDaySF advocates in all 11 Districts, from every corner of the city, representing a myriad of arts disciplines and project sizes!

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Ballot Resources (2016)

ABBA is committed to providing non-partisan, well informed, and timely information on policies that impact the arts and cultural ecosystem in the bay area. We've compiled a few resources to share.

ABBA's endorsement of Proposition S (SF)  - explanatory essay "Vote S to Stabilize Artists and Homeless Families" by Rebecca Bowe

SF Candidate Questionnaire by ABBA

Voter's Edge - online tool for CA voter's, see your ballot online and track your choices AND see your options to submit your ballot

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Ballot.FYI Solid, non-partisan summary of CA ballot measures 

SF Department of Elections' online voter guide 

San Francisco Public Press - Breaking down the ballot by theme

Alameda County - List of Measures 

Ballotpedia - lists Dept of Elections info along with news coverage

Advocacy & Nonprofits - Info on NP engaging in advocacy vs. lobbying activities

Wondering how the local propositions relate to the arts? Look no further! Here's a list of SF and Oakland props made by Mona Webb and Alex Randall with one-sentence summaries of how they relate (when they do) and what they're about (if they don't, directly).

Measure

 - What It's About - 

Relevance To Arts / if no direct relevance, what it's about

San Francisco

 

 

A

School Bonds - 

Provide funding for new school of the arts and arts education center in Civic Center

B

City College Parcel Tax - 

Keep City College afloat, which services many local artists

C

Loans to Finance Acquisition and Rehabilitation of Affordable Housing - 

Frees up more money for SF to invest in affordable housing developments

D

Vacancy Appointments - 

Prevents appointed temporary officials from making use of "incumbancy" in an election

E

Street Trees - 

Will keep SF public trees healthier

F

Youth Voting - 

Empowers youth artists 16+ to have an official voice in city governing

G

Police Oversight - 

Creates greater oversight/accountability for police department

H

Public Advocate - 

Establishes new position within SF government to investigate citizens' issues

I

Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities - 

Makes more funding available to services for senior and disabled artists

J

Funding for Homelessness and Transportation - 

Creates steady funding for homelessness as well as improvements to public transportation

K

General Sales Tax - 

Will provide tax revenue needed for funding homelessness and transportation services

L

MTA Appointments and Budget - 

Transfers some oversight of MTA board and budget from mayor to supervisors

M

Housing and Development Commission - 

Would add an extra layer of oversight to housing projects in SF

N

Non-Citizen Voting in School Board Elections - 

Empowers non-citizen parents to have a say in school board elections

O

Office Development in Candlestick Point and Hunters Point - 

Hastens development in Candlestick Point that would likely cause more SF housing troubles

P

Competitive Bidding for Affordable Housing Projects on City-Owned Property - 

Requires multiple bids on affordable housing projects

Q

Prohibiting Tents on Public Sidewalks - 

Attempts to address homelessness in a very 

R

Neighborhood Crime Unit - 

Adds police presence to neighborhoods without addressing justice issues

S

Allocation of Hotel Tax Funds - 

Establishes steady and significant funding for the arts

T

Restricting Gifts and Campaign Contributions from Lobbyists - 

Tightens restrictions on political lobbying

U

Affordable Housing Requirements for Market-Rate Development Projects  -

Raises maximum income to qualify for affordable housing

V

Tax on Distributing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages - 

Will (hopefully) promote better dietary habits for all

W

Real Estate Transfer Tax on Properties Over $5 Million - 

Brings more money in from real estate deals to fund city services

X

Preserving Space for Neighborhood Arts, Small Businesses and Community Services in Certain Neighborhoods - 

Helps ensure that art space displacement is followed by art space replacement

RR

BART Safety, Reliability, and Traffic Relief - 

Increases funding for BART repairs

 

 

 

Oakland

 

 

A1

Alameda County Affordable Housing Bond - 

Will provide affordable housing to vulnerable groups like seniors,veterans, low-income families, and people with disabilities.

G1

Teacher Retention and Middle School Improvement Act - 

Attracting and retaining teachers and increasing access to courses in arts, music, and world languages in grades 6, 7, and 8.

HH

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Distribution Tax Ordinance - 

A tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda, sports drinks, sweetened teas, and energy drinks.This money would go into the city’s general fund.

II

City-Owned Real Property Maximum Lease - 

The City Council could lease City-owned land for up to 99 years. Measure II should help increase construction of affordable housing.

JJ

Just Cause for Eviction and Rent Adjustment - 

Extend “just cause” eviction protections to housing built before December 31, 1995, require landlords to petition the City’s Rent Board before they raise rents above the standard cost of living.

 

LL

Oakland Police Commission - 

LL would replace the Citizens’ Police Review Board with an Oakland Police Commission. 

C1

AC Transit Parcel Tax Extension - 

C1 would extend the $96 parcel tax until 2039.AC Transit needs this funding to continue providing reduced fares and transportation options for youth, seniors, and people with disabilities.

RR

BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief - 

RR would allow BART to sell up to $3.5 billion in bonds. By selling bonds, BART would get up to $3.5 billion to spend on 

improving its system.

aiga-get-out-the-vote-google-poster4.png 

 

 

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Board of Education Candidates: Trevor McNeil

Trevor McNeil

How would you describe the specific impact of artists and arts organizations on the life of our city?  Please use at least one example of the arts changing lives or communities.

Arts are the vanguard for change in so many ways. I think about the “controversy” over naming our schools after slave owners. For me it’s not a controversy, we need to create a culturally-relevant system of heroes and civic identity. You know where that starts? Murals in the mission, street theater with the Mime Troop, and café life in North Beach. I’ve been involved in these efforts – I’ve worked with the Mime Troop, painted with Calle 24, and worked to keep the Roxie theater open. Art brings people together but more importantly, operates outside the system of power that more often than not is keeping down, whether directly or institutionally-disguised silence – those very populations I teach in my classroom and are the focus of any social justice-minded school board commissioner.

How will you ensure that San Francisco’s historically underserved communities are able to access the full benefits of the arts and resources for creative and community expression?

Again, I think transparency is needed in the SFUSD. There are schools with supplemental budgets and activism parent that arrange for field trips, class visits, and extra materials to be donated to the schools. That’s great. I applaud all activism at all levels. But as a District I think we need to be more aware and more public about these types of discrepancies. Advocacy, political pressure for extra funding, and public-private partnerships will follow. As the only public school teacher on the ballot this fall I am keenly aware of the opportunities and challenges activating the creative potential of our city. I take students to the Asian Art museum (free) and arrange for silk screen lessons at the Mission Cultural Center. As a board member for my neighborhood association, we partnered with local businesses and schools to create fun art walks. That type of activism and that experience as a front-line arts-invested educator I think will make me a good voice for making sure that not only are the arts an crucial part of SFUSD’s students’ experiences but that ALL students are accessing those opportunities equally.

Over the past year the arts have been utilized to improve safety and protect the environment. For example, artist studios have activated vacant buildings. Murals have highlighted bike corrals and warned residents about the dangers of pollution. Name one or two ways you would leverage the work of artists and arts organizations to cultivate vibrant neighborhoods and achieve civic priorities.

I would require that in our school classroom scope and sequences that teachers needed to identify specific activities, partnerships, and resources that were replated to the arts. Project-based learning is also a professional development area I would push.


Every neighborhood in the city has a neighborhood or merchants association. I think as political members of the SFUSD the commissioners of the board of education and uniquely placed to help our schools and principals reach out to these associations. I am on the record as being in favor of an “adopt a school” approach where commissioners take special responsibility for a percentage of our schools and are that school’s advocate on the Board (mostly as a spokesman and support system, obviously we have to look out for the interests of all our schools and neighborhoods). This approach I think could leverage the keen outreach skills our elected Commissioners have with empowering schools to identify community partners they could work with on beautification, social justice, and community awareness campaigns.

Research shows that students with an arts-rich education have better grade point averages, lower drop-out rates and score better on standardized tests in reading and math. How will you ensure every San Francisco student is provided a robust arts education in school and has access to ample opportunities to engage in art outside of school?

We need site-by-site breakdowns of the number of hours of arts-based learning and exploration that happens. The District touts it’s arts education but the experience of parents is different. I suspect the District is using the numbers of schools with robust fund-raising (often which goes to art and music electives) to boost their numbers. That’s why consistent transparency is so important and a major goal of mine if elected.

How can the SFUSD help retain our artists and arts organizations?

I am on record as being the pro-teacher affordability candidate. Aside from fully-funding arts programing, as a union rep and the only public school teacher on the ballot I am confident that I would represent the strongest pro-teaching platform that puts the recruitment and retention of front-line teachers the number one stated and acted on priority of the Board of Education.

Do you support the SF Arts and Families Funding Ordinance, restoring allocations of some Hotel Tax revenues to the City’s arts agencies and resources to prevent family homelessness?  Why or why not?

Yes. I’ve been active with the SF arts commission (mostly in-roads with film and the Roxie theater) and support this.

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Board of Education Candidates: Rob Geller

Rob Geller

How would you describe the specific impact of artists and arts organizations on the life of our city?  Please use at least one example of the arts changing lives or communities.

The impact of artists and arts organizations on our city is profound.  The Community Music Center on Capp Street in the Mission is a beautiful example of an arts organization changing lives and bringing music to diverse communities. Through the CMC, my children have studied instruments, sung for years in a childrens’ chorus, performed as singing Angels in the annual La Poserela holiday show, sang for seniors and with seniors, performed in small summer ensembles and solo recitals, and participated in all kinds of musical enrichment.  This 95-year-old organization is a treasure, offers sliding scale rates and financial aid, and is wonderfully reflective of the cultures of the Mission District.  One of my goals as a School Board Commissioner will be to hire more music teachers in the Elementary Schools, so students can have more music instruction, so they really become fluent in the second language of music, and benefit from the mathematical and neurodevelopmental boost music study offers.

How will you ensure that San Francisco’s historically underserved communities are able to access the full benefits of the arts and resources for creative and community expression?

Let’s bring more arts and resources directly to the underserved communities, and continue to support, and expand, progams like AIM Concerts and similar enrichment in all Elementary Schools.  Let’s hire comedians to teach comedy in the schools, to counteract all the awful news and violence children may be exposed to in disadvantaged neighborhoods.  We can hire art therapists and expand the use of art therapy to work through behavioral health issues.

Over the past year the arts have been utilized to improve safety and protect the environment. For example, artist studios have activated vacant buildings. Murals have highlighted bike corrals and warned residents about the dangers of pollution. Name one or two ways you would leverage the work of artists and arts organizations to cultivate vibrant neighborhoods and achieve civic priorities.  

Living in the Mission, I am surrounded by beautiful murals celebrating and depicting all kinds of manifestations of life, often intimately tied to and reflective of their immediate neighborhoods.  I would love to see more of them, all over the city, in every neighborhood.  It would be great if San Francisco had the vibrantly painted fire hydrants, utility boxes and bus benches on the streets that they have in other cities.                    
                                               
Research shows that students with an arts-rich education have better grade point averages, lower drop-out rates and score better on standardized tests in reading and math. How will you ensure every San Francisco student is provided a robust arts education in school and has access to ample opportunities to engage in art outside of school?  

We can strengthen current and build new connections between SFUSD and outside arts organizations.  Part of my platform is to try to put dedicated music teacher back into every Elementary School, which will improve all the areas mentioned.  We can do this by working to increase the amount of money in the currently $65 million PEEF fund and/or reapportion the money already in the fund.  The construction of the new School of the Arts campus on Van Ness will give our arts education a great boost.

How can the SFUSD help retain our artists and arts organizations?  

Hire artists, musicians, dancers and comedians to work in the schools!  There are thousands of such artists and performers in San Francisco.  Let these artist/teachers live in newly-built teacher housing.  We should support initiatives that make it possible for local arts organizations to afford their increasing rents, and perhaps even find space in SFUSD sites for them to operate.  We can raise money for the arts by regularly auctioning off art created by students in District-wide events.

Do you support the SF Arts and Families Funding Ordinance, restoring allocations of some Hotel Tax revenues to the City’s arts agencies and resources to prevent family homelessness?  Why or why not?

YES!!  This is an absolutely essential measure to keep families and arts organizations in our increasingly unaffordable city.

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Board of Education Candidates: Phil Kim

Phil Kim

How would you describe the specific impact of artists and arts organizations on the life of our city?  Please use at least one example of the arts changing lives or communities.

San Francisco has a deep history rooted in the Arts. Recently, a few friends and I went on a Mission Mural Walk by Precita Eyes. I learned so much about the rich culture, deep history, and transformative work of organizations such as Precita Eyes, and the community partnerships and organizations that continue to grow and develop our youngest minds. It is clear the impact of artists and art organizations like Precita Eyes are not only preserving the past, but molding the future of local artists and our City.

We live in the most innovative, progressive, and creative hotbeds in the country. We must leverage all our resources to ensure these programs and partnerships are cultivated and endure.

How will you ensure that San Francisco’s historically underserved communities are able to access the full benefits of the arts and resources for creative and community expression?

It is critical that our schools become as much a part of our neighborhoods and communities as any other organization. They can act as centers for nurturing creative minds – young and old. As Commissioner, I will look to not only build on our currently existing arts and creative programs, but to also expand our offerings across our District. Our underserved neighborhoods need the resources (money) to be able to build sustainable programs that become pillars in our communities of creative expression, just as much as we provide access to technology and computer science. We must ensure we are providing all students in every neighborhood with a holistic education, and that our historically underserved communities have all the resources at their disposal.

Over the past year the arts have been utilized to improve safety and protect the environment. For example, artist studios have activated vacant buildings. Murals have highlighted bike corrals and warned residents about the dangers of pollution. Name one or two ways you would leverage the work of artists and arts organizations to cultivate vibrant neighborhoods and achieve civic priorities.

I believe that the culture of a school and community can be shaped by the aesthetics and imagery of our structures. As I was on the Precita Eyes Mural Walk, I was struck by the messaging that each mural tried to convey. I wonder the extent to which our District has partnered with local artists to bring life to our buildings, and I am committed to ensuring we revitalize wasted space to ensure we are promoting the arts in every corner of our schools. Additionally, I hope to strengthen our curriculum to include examples of locally- and culturally-responsive pedagogy to ensure we are highlighting the work of local artists, activists, and truly speak to the context of the art in our City.

Research shows that students with an arts-rich education have better grade point averages, lower drop-out rates and score better on standardized tests in reading and math. How will you ensure every San Francisco student is provided a robust arts education in school and has access to ample opportunities to engage in art outside of school?

I am only one of three candidates who is a credentialed educator. I hope to leverage my experience in education (as a former teacher) to look deeply into curriculum, teaching, and learning in SFUSD to ensure we are providing a holistic and meaningful educational experience for our students – including access to arts before, during, and after school. We already have robust after school programs, but we need more opportunities so barriers are minimized as much as possible. I am dedicated to ensuring our schools provide robust arts education for our students, and finding ways to highlight our proof points to incentivize parent/family engagement and provide models for other schools.

How can the SFUSD help retain our artists and arts organizations?

I believe that, through developing and growing our partnerships, we can ensure artists and arts organizations are partnering with the District in providing professional and developmental opportunities for local artists. 
Do you support the SF Arts and Families Funding Ordinance, restoring allocations of some Hotel Tax revenues to the City’s arts agencies and resources to prevent family homelessness?  Why or why not?

Though I have yet to come to a final decision on Prop S, I do fundamentally believe that the City must build sustainable funding streams and revenue to the City’s arts agencies and dedicate resources to prevent family homelessness. I have not yet done my own extensive research into the proposal, but plan to soon.

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Board of Education Candidates: Ian Kalin

Ian Kalin

How would you describe the specific impact of artists and arts organizations on the life of our city?  Please use at least one example of the arts changing lives or communities.

Arts and artists are absolutely essential to the life, character and future of San Francisco. I have witnessed this through my work as a Board Member with the Blue Bear School of Music. This San Francisco institution, the “original school of rock” and currently housed in Fort Mason, has improved the lives of thousands of people and served as a community hub for artistic education. One of their programs delivers instruments, instructors and musical programming to the City’s poorest citizens and also augments public school education whose music funding has been cut. Blue Bear, and other institutions like it such as the Community Music Center in the Mission, are part of the core ecosystem of San Francisco’s cultural vibrancy. We believe in expression. We believe in taking care of each other. And we believe in keeping centers like this inside our great City.

How will you ensure that San Francisco’s historically underserved communities are able to access the full benefits of the arts and resources for creative and community expression?

By protecting, and increasing the investment in, arts and creativity education.

Over the past year the arts have been utilized to improve safety and protect the environment. For example, artist studios have activated vacant buildings. Murals have highlighted bike corrals and warned residents about the dangers of pollution. Name one or two ways you would leverage the work of artists and arts organizations to cultivate vibrant neighborhoods and achieve civic priorities.


Neighborhood priorities and civic priorities go hand-in-hand.  Through partnerships between the private-sector and public sector as well as managed partnerships with neighborhoods, cooperative projects can help diverse people achieve common goals. As demonstrated by our City’s public 311 call logs, people everywhere in San Francisco care about the City’s appearance and cleanliness.  Therefore, when city officials coordinate with artists to create mural projects like those highlighted in the question, we are actually achieving a core City service.  I believe public spaces can also be used for innovation and Smart City experiments.  For example, consider the “Living Innovation Zones” that the Mayor’s Office launched in partnership with the Exploratorium and other partners.  These projects educate, convene people, improve the city’s character, and often lend themselves to improvements in the city’s transit and wi-fi infrastructure.

Research shows that students with an arts-rich education have better grade point averages, lower drop-out rates and score better on standardized tests in reading and math. How will you ensure every San Francisco student is provided a robust arts education in school and has access to ample opportunities to engage in art outside of school?

We need to significantly improve the level of funding in San Francisco’s schools. I have a detailed plan for how to achieve goal, in collaboration with SFUSD’s diverse stakeholders. The details of this plan are available at IanKalin.com.

How can the SFUSD help retain our artists and arts organizations?

For individuals, we need to significantly increase the salary of arts teachers.  For organizations, SFUSD should invest in them directly where appropriate to augment any gaps in their ability to deliver a world-class arts education to their students.

Do you support the SF Arts and Families Funding Ordinance, restoring allocations of some Hotel Tax revenues to the City’s arts agencies and resources to prevent family homelessness?  Why or why not?

Yes.  Because I was compelled by the thoughtful and evidence-based argument presented by Jonathan Moscone in this SF Chronicle Op-Ed.

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