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San Francisco to pay ‘essential’ artists $1,000 per month basic income

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced on Thursday that the city will provide monthly $1,000 payments to 130 eligible artists who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

According to a press release from Breed’s office, the payments are a part of a new pilot program under the city’s economic recovery and efforts to support the arts. 

The cash relief program will support artists living and working in San Francisco who are ‘income qualifying’ for six months beginning in May. 

For example, an applicant who lives alone and makes $60,900 or less is eligible for the payments. On the higher end, an applicant who has five people dependent on their household income and makes $94,000 or less is also eligible. 

Though the program is focused on all artists facing financial insecurity resulting from the pandemic, organizers are ‘building a comprehensive and community-centered outreach strategy that ensures we reach those hardest hit, including our BIPOC, immigrant, disabled, and LGBTQ+ artist communities’.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (pictured) has announced that the city will provide monthly $1,000 payments to 130 eligible artists who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

According to Mayor Breed, the city partnered with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to implement the relief program

According to Mayor Breed, the city partnered with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to implement the relief program

According to Mayor Breed, the city partnered with Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to implement the relief program. The center started accepting applications for the program on Thursday with the deadline to submit an application being April 15, 2021. 

‘For this program, an artist is someone who actively engages with the community through music, dance, creative writing, visual art, performance art, installation, photography, theater, or film,’ the press release from the mayor’s office says. 

The city is encouraging teaching artists, arts educators, and culturally-based craft workers and makers to apply. 

‘From the first day the pandemic arrived in San Francisco, we knew that this health crisis would impact artists, and artists of color in particular,’ Breed said. 

‘Our artists make San Francisco special, and bring so much life and energy to our city. The arts are critical to our local economy and are an essential part of our long-term recovery. If we help the arts recover, the arts will help San Francisco recover. 

‘This new program is an innovative effort to help our creative sector get through this challenging time, and come back even stronger and more resilient than before.’

The application for the payments opened on March 25 and closes on April 15, 2021

The application for the payments opened on March 25 and closes on April 15, 2021 

The cash relief program will support artists living and working in San Francisco who are 'income qualifying' for six months beginning in May. For example, an applicant who lives alone and makes $60,900 or less is eligible for the payments (criteria depicted)

The cash relief program will support artists living and working in San Francisco who are ‘income qualifying’ for six months beginning in May. For example, an applicant who lives alone and makes $60,900 or less is eligible for the payments (criteria depicted) 

Those who are accepted into the program will receive their final cash payment in October 2021

Those who are accepted into the program will receive their final cash payment in October 2021

The program is one of several guaranteed income programs San Francisco officials have been developing. It’s also the first guaranteed income initiative to focus solely on artists. 

The other guaranteed income programs include funding for San Franciscans training to become EMTs, black and Pacific Islander expecting mothers as part of the Abundant Birth Project, and members of San Francisco’s black and African-American community as part of the mayor’s Dream Keeper Initiative.

Guaranteed income is an economic model that provides regular, unconditional cash transfers to individuals or households.

This type of program differs from other social safety net practices by providing a steady, predictable stream of cash to recipients to spend as they see fit without limitations. 

‘This Guaranteed Income Pilot is grounded in the understanding that artists and the cultural sector are the heartbeat of our civic life and must be supported through innovative funding methods,’ said Deborah Cullinan, CEO of YBCA.

‘Artists must be given adequate resources to focus on creative output and reinvest in their communities as they navigate the ongoing challenges of living and working through a pandemic, Cullinan said. 

Several people, including John Cox, a Republican running against California Gov Gavin Newsom, criticized the idea. Cox shared an emoji of a face palm in a tweet on Friday

Several people, including John Cox, a Republican running against California Gov Gavin Newsom, criticized the idea. Cox shared an emoji of a face palm in a tweet on Friday

 

 

 

Ralph Remington, Director of Cultural Affairs at the San Francisco Arts Commission also noted that ‘San Francisco’s arts and culture sector generated $1.45billion in annual economic activity while supporting nearly 40,000 full-time jobs pre-COVID’. 

‘COVID-19 has severely threatened this important sector, and the Guaranteed Income Pilot, with other programs like it, allows artists to focus on their creative work and supports the recovery of the sector overall,’ Remington added. 

Under Breed’s leadership, San Francisco has supported artists, and arts and cultural organizations with various grant programs throughout the course of the pandemic. 

Most recently, Breed announced $24.8million from the city’s budget surplus will go towards preventing cuts to arts and culture programs. 

Early on in the city’s response, Breed directed $2.75million for the Arts Relief Program, and later announced $12.8million in grants for the arts, funding for more than 220 arts and cultural organizations. 

Several people, including John Cox, a Republican running against California Gov Gavin Newsom, criticized the idea. 

Cox shared an emoji of a face palm in a tweet on Friday. 

Another person tweeted: ‘Gee what could possibly go wrong. How many budding “artists” are magically going to spring into being?’ 

‘I identify as an artist that lives in San Francisco. I’ll just need my checks mailed to Mississippi. Thanks,’ another wrote. 

One person posed the question: ‘Where does the city get the money?’ And another asked: ‘Why not give it to the homeless shelters?’ 


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