Art and culture are extremely valuable parts of San Francisco’s cultural landscape. Music, theater, and other visual and performing arts thrive in places that have low costs of living and/or lots of public support for the arts. San Francisco’s legacy as a great arts town comes from the fact that it used to be a cheaper place to live. Unfortunately, San Francisco is now arguably the most expensive place to live in the entire United States, if not the world, and it does not seem likely to get cheaper right away. As a historically low-income demographic, artists in all media are particularly vulnerable to displacement due to gentrification—displacement that hits them in the places where they produce and show their work as well as their homes. If we want San Francisco to remain a community of strong local artists, we must not only lower the cost of living in here, but also provide public support for them.
One effect of our proposals for means-based rent control that limits rents to no more than 30% of a worker’s salary and for a minimum wage of $40/hour will be to anchor local artists and musicians in San Francisco (please see A Living Wage District and An Eviction-Free District). However, we also need to make sure local artists have facilities to create and rehearse in and venues to perform in. This means we need a commercial rent control ordinance to help studios, rehearsal facilities, and performance and display venues stay in operation, and we need to waive City taxes for small, locally-owned and operated venues to support them in their competition against the huge corporate venues that charge exorbitant prices to bring national and international acts to perform locally. Our proposals are aimed at helping artists develop stable spaces to create, show, and develop audiences for their work, as well as maximize the benefits that we as a community can receive from their presence.
We call for:
- An immediate update on the ongoing renovation of the cultural center across the street from Balboa BART Station and a deadline for its completion. Open meetings of residents and artists to discuss future programming and access.
- Art education and year-round programming at schools provided by local artists who are paid union wages funded by increased taxes on corporations (please see A Living Wage District).
- Music festivals curated by local musicians in McLaren Park and Crocker Amazon Park.
- A residents’ planning committee of the District 11 Council to facilitate the creation of murals on all available public walls (please see A Community-Powered District).
- A residents’ planning committee of the District 11 Council to locate and construct a municipal theater in District 11 suitable for presenting film, plays, and live music.
- The development of the Excelsior, Ocean View, and Ingleside branches of San Francisco Public Library as resources for artists in terms of research materials as well as places for them to show their work.