Arts Element


San Francisco is nationally and internationally acclaimed as a cultural center where the arts are central to the essence and character of the City. It hosts a flourishing cultural environment in which a profusion of art is created, performed and exhibited in adventuresome, creative and often ground breaking ways. The breadth of artistic achievement in San Francisco encompasses many disciplines, cultures, individuals and organizations of all sizes. San Francisco has one of the largest concentrated populations of artists in the country and a per capital audience attendance at art events that far surpasses the national average.

The arts are a major industry in San Francisco, with a significant impact on the City's economy. The arts bring visitors and tourists and their associated visitor spending to San Francisco. In the City's innovative financial support programs for the arts, San Francisco has become a national leader in municipal arts funding. This city was among the first cities in the United States to institute a public art program and is considered a model in its approach to provision of artist live/work spaces.

The Arts Element of the San Francisco Master Plan is intended to:

Arts policy for the City and County of San Francisco was developed through a community planning process that included seven topical focus groups. These groups each met three times between November 1988 and early 1990. The process also included during this time two community forums, six cluster group meetings, additional meetings with Arts Commission and other City staff, reviews of materials and documents about the arts in San Francisco and technical research by the five member Planning Team.

The process of developing an Arts Element was undertaken out of the belief that the arts are an essential part of San Francisco, both intrinsically and economically, and that the arts make significant contributions to life in San Francisco. At the same time, however, the ability of the arts to thrive in San Francisco is challenged. Artists' housing and studio space remains scarce, individual artists of all disciplines and cultural backgrounds have limited access to funding, nonprofit arts organizations are currently experiencing the toughest competition yet for growth and stability. The search for available, affordable performance and exhibit space remains difficult as a result of San Francisco real estate values. There remains a critical need for greater arts education opportunities and multicultural artists and arts organizations remain on the periphery of City funding, decision making and support.

This Master Plan Element is also founded on the belief that the City and County of San Francisco holds a trust for the development and preservation of arts and culture. It is furthermore held that explicit arts policy will help enable the City and County of San Francisco to respond to arts related issues and problems in the fulfillment of this trust. This Arts Element is a hybrid in the world of cultural planning in that it addresses issues at both the policy level and the strategic level. Together both these levels of planning are critical to the success of the policies that follow.

Goal I. Support and Nurture the Arts Through City Leadership


As noted by the National League of Cities:

"The arts are a critical element in the survival of cities. If we are to achieve an improved quality of life for the nation's urban population, all levels of government must recognize the arts as an essential service. All men, women, and children should have the opportunity to experience the arts in their daily lives. Within the urban environment every citizen should have available accessible avenues of cultural development, expression and involvement."

San Francisco support of the arts has decades of tradition. The City's own activities, however, have tended to be overshadowed by the vast scale of the private arts community. In 1983 there were over 600 non-profit arts programs - exclusive of the literary arts - within the city limits. These programs included 92 in theater, 114 in dance, 60 in music, and 91 in visual arts. San Francisco is also home to a world-class symphony, ballet, opera and several museums of fine art.

The San Francisco area ranks highest among the ten largest U. S. Cities in per capita attendance in the disciplines of theater, dance, music, and film. San Francisco is a literary arts center, based on the number of small press publications, poetry and prose readings and other literary events, literary organizations, and organizations with literary arts arms.

Promote inclusion of artistic considerations in local decision-making.

In the design of the physical environment, artistic values should be recognized as an element to be considered as well as function, cost, and environmental impact. The talent and perspective of artists should be integrated into the planning, designing and building of San Francisco to promote the highest artistic standards for the City.

Officially recognize on a regular basis the contributions arts make to the quality of life in San Francisco.


Formal recognition through the Office of the Mayor of the contribution of the arts to the quality of life is a powerful and effective means of both giving the arts their deserved acclaim and demonstrating City leadership in supporting the arts. Leadership can take the form of the Mayor's Arts Awards, as is done in many cities, or can be more directed and specialized.

Increase public awareness of the arts in San Francisco by greater promotion of existing art programs and services in the community and schools.


The City and County of San Francisco should promote greater awareness of the arts of all cultures through its support of programs which promote the arts, through efforts to advocate for education in the arts, through its relationship with the media, and through the leadership of its offices. The City of San Francisco should embrace the arts as a vital part of its cultural environment, and promote the value of the many definitions of "public" cultures as art.

Provide access to the creative process and cultural resources for all neighborhoods, cultural communities, and segments of the city and its populations.


There is a wealth of opportunity in San Francisco for the enjoyment of and participation in the arts. There is also a wide array of populations which represent a multiplicity of cultures, economic and social backgrounds, neighborhoods, ages, and abilities. Local multicultural artists and arts organizations play a major role in promoting cross-cultural fertilization. The challenge is to bring these two elements - the arts and the general population - together, so that all people may create and enjoy the arts.


The arts contribute to the San Francisco economy by providing income as well as a wide variety of jobs, goods and services. Arts activities play a significant role in attracting visitor trade, enhancing the City image, and by their presence help to encourage other businesses to locate in San Francisco. Definition and study of the arts as a sector in the local economy during the 1980's improved on the long held assumptions and understanding that the arts are good for the economy by providing measurement and approximations of actual economic benefits.

The arts sector includes both non-profit and for-profit arts businesses and corporations. These two business sectors work to support one another in ways which make them invaluable to one another. There is a mutual dependency between these two sub-sectors of the arts where the economic and creative health of one can significantly affect the other. It is estimated that the 1987 operating expenditures of the non-profit arts activities in San Francisco were over 94 million dollars. In the same year, the for-profit arts which are traditionally the larger sub-sector yielded local operating expenditures of approximately 593 million dollars. Together these two arts sub-sectors, with their events, shows, exhibits, performances and other business activities helped to generate an estimated 1.3 billion dollars in the 1987San Francisco economy.

The arts sector contribution of 1.3 billion dollars represents approximately 6.5 percent of the total 1987 San Francisco economic activity. Arts economic activity during this same year supported between 45,000 and 50,000 local jobs. As many as one out of every eleven jobs in San Francisco is either partially or wholly dependent on arts related businesses in the city. Overall arts sector contributions of jobs, income and business activity indicate the arts are a major economic sector and essential to the health of the local economy.

Arts contribution to the local economy, 1987.

Encourage and promote opportunities for the arts and artists to contribute to the economic development of San Francisco.


The arts are often a strong determinant in corporate deliberations regarding the location of headquarters and facilities. They also generate jobs in construction and design of new and renovated facilities and in installation, shipping, security, transportation and trucking and many other industries necessary to the production, performance, and exhibition of art.

Continue to support and increase the promotion of the arts and arts activities throughout the City for the benefit of visitors, tourists, and residents.


The arts and tourism are clearly related. Of the 5 million people who comprised the audience for San Francisco based performances in 1985, almost half were non-residents.

A comprehensive arts information service for visitors staying in hotels has been established. Such a service for residents and other visitors should also be considered. At present, there is no one place where all visitors and residents can obtain information about the arts, and where the wide array of cultural opportunities in San Francisco can be promoted. The arts information services should be located centrally and prominently, and could also take on functions such as a hot line and master calendar.


As the unit of government with the broadest mandate in the arts, it is most appropriate that the Arts Commission promote cultural policies and plans for consideration by other City departments and by the public. It is also appropriate that the Arts Commission's role should include increased services for the arts community, facilitating arts funding and funding opportunities and coordination among City departments which affect arts services and policies.

Such a role would represent a significant change in the mission and programming of the Arts Commission. This new mission does not imply that current Arts Commission programs should be discontinued, nor that it would override or interfere with established authorities of other Charter agencies whose primary function is to provide arts experiences. It would require, however, that current programs be evaluated within a broader context. The Arts Commission is presently in the process of developing a long term plan for the agency to meet the growing, changing needs of San Francisco.

That it is a challenge for the Arts Commission to carry out its current programs is significant to any proposal for adding new roles and responsibilities. The fact that specific commissioners are designated to represent performing arts and literature on the Arts Commission but there are no programs, staff or funds for these areas, raises expectations that cannot be met. The Arts Commission needs to increase its visibility in the community through broader communication to the public of its mandates, responsibilities, services and programs so that the City can play a more effective leadership role in the arts.

Enhance the legal powers and broaden the responsibilities of the Arts Commission to better enable it to be responsive to the changing needs of the entire arts community.


The City of San Francisco formed the San Francisco Arts Commission in 1932 for the purpose of effecting civic design review. Various responsibilities and new mandates have been added since then, such as the management of the City's art collection, support of the POPS Concerts series, Art in Public Places, and the Street Artists Licensing Program, but these charter and ordinance mandated programs remain the focus of the Arts commission by force of law. Since the Arts Commission was formed, the needs of and the circumstances of the arts and of the city have changed dramatically.

Maintain arts policy coordination activities as a function of the Arts Commission within City government.


In 1988, twenty-three departments or commissions within the government structure of the City and County of San Francisco had policies, programs, procedures, guidelines, or requirements directly related to the arts.

Strengthened relationships between the Arts Commission and other City departments that have an impact on the arts can lead to a coordinated approach to city issues and practices which affect the arts, and yield a clearer, more integrated, and ultimately more successful result.

Strive for the highest standards of design of public buildings and grounds and structures placed in the public right of way.


Public buildings should set the standard for design quality in the City, not only because of their civic importance, but also because insistence on good design in private buildings is undermined if public design is mediocre.

Items placed in the public right of way, such as flower stands, bus shelters, newspaper racks, benches, light poles, also play an important role in creating a design image of the City. They should be designed with their visual quality, as well as their efficiency and ease of maintenance, in mind.

Many public projects are subject to design review by multiple city agencies. The Arts Commission reviews the design of buildings and structures on city property. The Department of City Planning reviews the same projects for conformity to the City's Master Plan, including the Urban Design Element and other design policies. The sponsoring department - in the case of a public building, or the Department of Public Works - in the case of public right of way, must also approve the design of a project. Each agency uses its own design standards in a separate and independent review, resulting in confusion and conflict.

Goal II. Recognize and Sustain the Diversity of the Cultural Expressions of Art in San Francisco


The arts in San Francisco are, by nature of its population, multicultural. They are the product of the diversity which has always characterized San Francisco. The arts also reflect expressions of the disabled, the gay and lesbian communities, the young, the old, the wealthy and the poor. It is the high quality of artistic product which emanates from the breadth and interplay of these diverse cultural expressions that makes the arts in San Francisco vibrant, experimental and provocative. Throughout this document, whenever the population of San Francisco is referenced, the definition of that population is meant to include all of these diverse elements.

Actively recruit and include representative populations in City agencies and bodies which deal with arts (e.g., funding, promotion, programming, arts policy, selection of art or artists, facilities development and use).


The intent of this policy is to insure representation from the many cultures, ages, sexual orientations and disabled populations which make up San Francisco in the formulation and implementation of arts policies and programs. In order for policies and programs to respect, reflect, and support the diverse expressions of San Francisco's peoples, this representation is essential.


The diversity of population in San Francisco and the wide array of artists and arts organizations needs the support of programs which address diverse cultural needs.

The City of San Francisco has a history of support for a range of cultural programs and audiences. Notable examples are the support given by Grants for the Arts and the San Francisco Arts Commission. San Francisco arts organizations, many of whom are supported by the City, also sponsor a variety of programs designed to meet the needs of diverse populations.

The further identification of needs will enable the arts community and the City to better serve the broadest possible population.

Identify and address the needs of arts programs and facilities for all segments of San Francisco.


The City should, both within its own programs and within the arts programs and organizations it supports, commit to insuring access to the arts for all citizens of the city. The City should continue and expand its efforts to support, through its capital improvements funds, the elimination of physical barriers as they pertain to the arts through the variety of city agencies. The City should continue to support free and low cost arts events, with particular attention paid to neighborhood arts. Information about policies, programs, events, and other resources should, whenever possible, be presented in such a way so that it is accessible to non-English speaking populations, the deaf and the blind. The commitment to access includes provision of:

Provide accessible arts information resources to non-English speaking as well as visually and hearing impaired populations.

Continue to increase City support for organizations and developing institutions which reflect the diverse cultural traditions of the San Francisco population.


To become an institution implies a certain degree of artistic and administrative stability, of public recognition, and of the development of loyal audiences and supporters. Through traditional funding patterns, development and maintenance of facilities, and political support, the City of San Francisco has historically supported a number of arts organizations in such a manner and at such a time as to assist them in acquiring and maintaining the status of prominent institution. Grants for the Arts, through the Multicultural Arts Initiative, has begun to identify and support these arts groups. Lack of financial resources, inadequate facilities, and, in some cases, definitions and perceptions of art and culture which deny serious recognition by some potential audiences and supporters have prevented arts organizations reflecting the local cultural diversity from becoming institutions. Stability, recognition, and support are critical if culturally diverse organizations are to continue to enrich the entire city as well as give support to their own diverse cultural traditions.


Encourage arts education offerings in the community and the schools to include art and artists from many cultures.


It is imperative that students learn about the artistic heritages of the multiplicity of cultures represented by its citizens. Artists who have a living personal relationship with these artistic heritages ideally are the most appropriate teachers of their own art forms.

With diverse program offerings, the City will continue to serve the educational needs of its citizens as well as contribute to the development of new audiences.

Goal III. Recognize and Support Individual Artists and Arts Organizations, a Combination That Is Vital to a Thriving Arts Environment


The foundation of the arts is the individual, producing artist. It is the contribution of the artist, whether individually or as a member of an ensemble, that is the single most important element in the cultural environment of a community. The quality of artistic expression, the availability of opportunities for artists to produce, to exhibit, or to perform their work, and the engagement of others as patrons of artists' expressions, all determine whether or not artists can thrive in the community.

In San Francisco a large artist population contributes significantly to the cultural environment and economy of the city.

The centrality of artists to any discussion of the arts provides the basis for many of the Goals, Objectives, and Policies in this plan.

Develop funding sources for individual artists.


At present, the City of San Francisco does not provide any direct City funding to individual artists. Some funding is available in the form of commissions for the creation of art works under the various public art programs, and through funding arts organizations which pay artists salaries or fees. Those artists whose media are not appropriate to current public art programs or who do not work in an organizational setting are ineligible for City funding.

Single Artists

Figure 2 - Single Artists

MAP TO BE EDITED: Amend the Map to reflect, for the Mission Bay area, a change in the shading from a "very high" concentration of single artists to a "low" concentration of single artists.

Encourage City-funded arts programs and organizations to establish policies for payment to professional artists.


Many people and organizations do not hesitate to ask artists to work gratis in exchange for the opportunity to be acknowledged. That practice diminishes the value of the arts and undermines artists' abilities to be self-supporting. An example set by the City in compensating artists would encourage the legitimization of artists and art, and the City should actively promote and advocate for payment of professional artists throughout the community.

Many public funding bodies, such as the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, require that applicant organizations have a policy of payment to professional artists which meets acceptable minimum standards.

Protect and assist in the creation of artists' live/work spaces.


San Francisco's live/work legislation has paved the way for development of combined living and working spaces for artists. The actual development of those spaces, however, is complex, time-consuming, and expensive. The ArtHouse project of the San Francisco Arts Commission and California Lawyers for the Arts was conceived as a clearinghouse for live/work listings, information, technical assistance and advocacy. ArtHouse also assists in developing new spaces. The program receives no City funding outside of in-kind services form the Arts Commission (office space, telephone) and is supported by the California Arts Council and private foundations. Similar efforts in other cities tend to fall under community development definition and receive Community Development Block Grant funding. In most other cities with live/work programs, those spaces are considered to be "affordable housing" and are therefore eligible for federal and/or state funding.

To protect and create artists' live/work spaces, City resources should be allocated to support the formal efforts to develop affordable live/work space. The City should remain committed to the development of live/work units by urging the inclusion of live/work spaces in planned developments.

Include the literary and media arts in any and all definitions of art and artists.


The City of San Francisco has a tradition of supporting the visual and performing arts but has offered no formal recognition or support of the literary arts. Inasmuch as the creation of literature, poetry, play writing, and other forms based on the printed word are as legitimately considered to be "art" as are the visual and performing arts, the City should include the literary arts in its definitions of art and artists and in its arts programs.

Literary Arts Center

Figure 3 - Literary Arts Center

MAP TO BE EDITED: Amend the Map to reflect, for the Mission Bay area, a change in the shading from a "very high" concentration of literary arts centers to a "low" concentration of literary arts centers.

Include the participation of artists in City capital improvements and public works projects which do not fall under current Percent for Art programs.


Artists are innovators. They approach situations in an unconventional manner and arrive at solutions which are often creative and economical. The artists should be considered essential parts of a collaborative process when the City undertakes many capital improvement and public works projects which, when approached conventionally, yield conventional solutions. Signage, street furniture, manhole covers, and lighting fixtures are among the kinds of public works projects in which artists could contribute their unique vision.


Arts organizations provide the framework by which the work of artists is made accessible to the public. They are not only the presenters of this work but the conservators of the diverse cultural heritages and traditions of our civilization. They support artists by direct employment and through education, advocacy and technical assistance. The economic stability of arts organizations has a direct bearing on whether or not artists can create and present their work.

The needs of arts organizations are addressed throughout this plan in terms of facilities improvements, resource-sharing among organizations, promotional activities and specific funding needs. The most pressing need expressed is for a stable funding base at all levels of development.

Support a stable funding base for small, medium and large arts organizations and develop new funding sources to enable arts organizations of all sizes to respond to demand for services.


Various avenues of government funding and the need for creating new sources are discussed in detail under Goal V, "Increase Funding Support for the Arts in San Francisco."

Assist in the improvement of arts organizations' facilities and access in order to enhance the quality and quantity of arts offerings.


Many city-owned arts facilities in San Francisco require extensive capital improvements if they are to continue to perform the functions for which they were constructed or purchased. The neighborhood cultural centers and the outdoor arts spaces under the jurisdiction of Recreation and Parks are primary examples. The level of funding needed requires exploration of new sources of revenue.

Recognize that arts organizations are representative of the City's diversity, creativity and vitality.


The arts organizations of San Francisco are an integral part of the art infrastructure of the City. They provide the ground upon which the arts and the community meet, offering opportunities for enrichment, education, communication and participation. These organizations, numbering in the hundreds, produce, present, exhibit and preserve the expressions and work of a myriad of diverse cultures. Their artistic missions range from the traditional to the avant garde, serving citizens of all ages and backgrounds. The wealth of cultural opportunity and expression evident in San Francisco's arts organizations is one of the City's greatest treasures.

Strengthen the leadership, personnel, governance and structure of arts organizations.


The challenge of surviving and thriving through economic, social and artistic uncertainties demands that arts organizations have strong leadership and sound structures. Arts organizations need access to those resources which encourage and allow them to address those internal management issues which affect their ability to fulfill their artistic missions.

Encourage arts on the ground floor as avenues to the creative life and vitality of San Francisco.


Community-serving arts organizations are critical to strengthening neighborhoods, building community infrastructure, and fostering positive social change. In order for these organizations to continue to operate and remain accessible to residents and visitors, the City should support policies that encourage ground floor space to be made available for community-serving arts organizations. These organizations are integral to making San Francisco a city that provides cultural equity and access to high quality arts experiences.

Goal IV. Increase Opportunities for Quality Arts Education


The need for education in the arts is not confined to school children but is critical at all levels of human development from childhood through old age, from vocational pursuits to paraprofessional and professional training. Through knowledge of and participation in the arts, there is an understanding of the world in which we live and the opportunity to develop tools to deal with that world. The arts speak to the genesis and manifestation of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors throughout the world and provide new means of communication. Education in the arts promotes a recognition of the beauty and creativity around us and shows us our potential to contribute to that beauty.

In addition to programs in the schools, arts education also takes place in many other settings. These include programs sponsored by the City's Recreation and Park Department, by arts organizations such as the Museum of Modern Art and the deYoung Museum, by the Neighborhood Cultural Centers, and by community arts and social service agencies.

Advocate for arts education opportunities for all residents of San Francisco.


Despite the wealth of documentation which clearly articulates the value of teaching the arts for their own sake as well as the benefits of arts literacy to other academic skills and pursuits, arts education remains on the periphery of education, a low priority in a constant state of flux.

The need for arts education is not limited to school children. Opportunities for arts education must also be stressed at the college and university level, for adults, and in paraprofessional training. In-service and continuing education programs for arts educators are also essential. Existing programs need to be supported and expanded.

Strengthen collaborations among artists, arts organizations, and teachers, school administrators, and others responsible for arts curricula.


Collaboration among artists and arts organizations and teachers and school administrators promotes the development of programs which maximize the resources of both the arts community and the schools. Those collaborations can lead to innovative approaches to arts programming which also meet the needs of the school district. Further, collaboration among artists and arts organizations who provide arts education programs can also yield fresh approaches to arts education through multi-disciplinary or other programs, with a potential for shared costs.


In order to promote an understanding of the arts which encompasses both the historical and contemporary products of artistic expression as well as allowing the student the opportunity to exercise and refine personal creativity, a partnership among artists, teachers, and arts organization is essential. Without that partnership, education in the arts is one-dimensional.

Support and increase the participation of artists in San Francisco's arts education programs.


Artists are one of San Francisco's greatest resources. Artists of all disciplines have provided countless hours of training, of education, and of joy to San Francisco's residents through a wide variety of arts education programs. The intent of this policy is to insure the continued and increased participation of performing, visual, and literary artists in arts education programs at all levels and in all institutions in order to provide San Francisco residents with the opportunity to participate knowledgeably in the arts as performers and artists and as audiences and consumers.

Support the efforts and dedication of arts teachers who have developed and maintained outstanding programs in the schools.

Goal V. Increase Funding Support for the Arts in San Francisco


The City of San Francisco currently supports a variety of arts organizations and activities with City funds derived from a number of sources, including but not limited to line item budget allocations, special Arts Commission programs, and the Grants for the Arts Program.

Through Grants for the Arts, San Francisco's museums, theaters, dance companies and music ensembles receive funding on an annual basis. In addition, Grants for the Arts also funds, within guidelines, nonrecurring parades; celebrations and street fairs; building purchases, renovations, relocations, and feasibility studies through the Arts Spaces Initiative; capital improvements, facilities maintenance and equipment acquisition through the Volunteer Arts Contribution Fund; and the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.

Provide the greatest possible public input into considerations regarding arts funding.


A publicly accountable process for the allocation of public funds is sound government practice. To the greatest extent possible, all allocations of public money supporting the arts and arts organizations should provide clear review criteria, public input and an appeals process.

Assist in the development of new funding sources for arts organizations which have traditionally not received City funding.


At present, various arts organizations are not eligible for direct City funding. These include arts service organizations and arts education and training groups. Current policies should be examined to determine if interpretations can be broadened or guidelines changed to include these segments of the arts community.


It has long been acknowledged that the non-profit arts cannot be entirely self-supporting. The earned income generated through ticket and admission sales or by sales of work rarely equals the costs to the artist or arts organization who produced the work, performance, exhibition, or activity. To fill the gap between earned income and income needed to survive and to grow, the arts must look to other sources. Even when successful, few artists or arts organizations are able to escape financial concerns brought on by changing economies, shifts in social priorities, and government cutbacks. The lack of financial resources and financial stability is a constant and debilitating concern for the arts.

The challenge is to develop new sources of funding and to strengthen existing sources of support for the arts. The potential for expanded local government support is being examined throughout the country, as municipalities look for ways of securing funds for the arts in new, non-traditional ways. Fees, levies, and fees for services are being re-examined. The private sector is the other area of potential. The key word in private sector fund raising is partnership, with a new understanding of the mutual benefits the arts and commerce bring each other. That potential is just beginning to be explored.

Establish a coordinated, flexible citywide percent for art program.


At present, developments in designated areas support the arts in San Francisco through participation in the Percent for Art programs of the Arts Commission, the Redevelopment Agency and the Department of City Planning. There is potential revenue to be derived if land development support of the arts was expanded to include projects of a certain size and type in all areas of the city. New funding could also be developed if the definition of appropriate uses of those funds was broadened.

A flexible program - at the discretion of the developer - could open new opportunities for revenue which could be used in support of cultural pursuits and organizations that have traditionally not received city funding, to augment current funding priorities, and to open new vistas for city-funded arts activity and programming. Those funds should be designed in such a way as to allow flexibility for participation, with limits and ceilings established.

Determine the means of providing in-kind resources and services to the arts.


The most common and readily identifiable form of support for the arts by local government is direct funding of arts organizations and arts events through granting or other allocation procedures. Those funds are applied on the income side of the arts organization's ledger, and are used to cover costs of services, programs, and operations.

Local government can have an impact on the expense side of the ledger as well. Through provision of resources and services, for which the arts normally must pay, or through elimination or reduction of costs imposed by the City on individuals or organizations associated with the production of art, local government can also support the arts.

The City has access to many resources, both tangible and in the form of services. Many of these resources would represent significant cost savings to the arts if made available to artists and arts organizations. Those resources include equipment, materials, security, and space. Where possible, those resources should be made available to the arts on a free or low-cost basis.

Motion Picture Theaters

Figure 4 - Motion Picture Theaters

MAP TO BE EDITED: Amend the Map to reflect, for the Mission Bay area, a change in the shading from a "very high" concentration of motion picture theaters to a "medium" concentration of motion picture theaters.

Reduce or eliminate, whenever possible, City-imposed costs associated with producing the arts by non-profit organizations and educational institutions.


The City imposes a variety of costs on individuals or organizations involved in the production of art. Those costs include business licenses and permits, personal property taxes, costs associated with complying with insurance requirements, rents paid for usage of City facilities, among others. Some of these costs are large, such as some associated with code compliance, and others are modest. Some cost relief procedures are cumbersome. Wherever possible, these costs should be reduced or eliminated.

Recording Industry

Figure 4 - Recording Industry

MAP TO BE EDITED: Amend the Map to reflect, for the Mission Bay area, a change in the shading from a "very high" concentration of recording industry to a "medium" concentration of recording industry.


One of the shifts in arts funding in the past decade has been the increasing emphasis on support in the form of partnerships between the corporate sector and the arts. This shift in perception and practice has occurred because of the growing recognition of the economic and social relationship between the arts in a community and the business sector. Audiences for the arts are often the markets businesses are trying to reach. They provide geographic focus, which supports area commercial and retail establishments.

Increasingly the private sector has adopted the stance similar to that articulated in "Creative Partnerships" by Neil E. Harlan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the McKesson Corporation: "Support of the arts makes good business sense, because it builds prestige for the corporation and makes the community a vibrant place in which to live and work."

Develop partnerships with the private sector and the business community to encourage monetary and non-monetary support of the arts, as well as sponsorships of arts organizations and events.


The trend toward partnerships between the arts and business has provided the arts with some new resources with which to support programs and operations. Those resources are in the form of funding as well as through goods and services.

The City can assist the arts in forging new links with the corporate world. Through the Mayor's Office of Business and Economic Development and the Small Business Commission, the City can promote partnerships between the arts and businesses. The San Francisco Economic Development Corporation can play a role as well. Artists and arts organizations should continue to be included in the City's good will and economic development missions to promote San Francisco's arts and culture to businesses considering moving to the city and help the arts to build new relationships.

Through the Chamber of Commerce and other trade associations, much can be done to promote support for the arts. The Business Volunteers for the Arts program of San Francisco's Chamber of Commerce is a major example of a successful collaboration. The Business Volunteers for the Arts and the Chamber of Commerce, with funding from corporations and foundations, have initiated a pilot project to develop an arts "wish list." Wish lists, publications which list very specific non-monetary and monetary needs of non- profit organizations, have been successful in a number of cities.

Commercial Arts Centers

Figure 6 - Commercial Arts Centers

MAP TO BE EDITED: Amend the Map to reflect, for the Mission Bay area, a change in the shading from a "very high" concentration of commercial arts centers to a "medium" concentration of commercial arts centers.

Organizations with a particular ethnic and/or cultural focus and those which serve audiences that consist predominantly of a particular ethnicity and race (including those that serve people with disabilities, children and youth, seniors and lesbian and gay people) have been more successful in obtaining support from the public sector than from the private sector. Lacking contacts or internal resources to develop a comprehensive fund raising approach to corporations, many multicultural organizations remain frustrated in their attempts to broaden their funding base. At the same time, most corporations lack an understanding of multicultural arts and arts organizations. A partnership should be developed which challenges corporations to match city monies for multicultural programming. That the population of San Francisco, and therefore the markets and work forces of San Francisco's corporations, is multicultural suggests that funding the diversity of art forms rather than only European-American art forms would be a stronger statement of community support by local corporations.

Goal VI. Enhance, Develop, and Protect the Physical Environment of the Arts in San Francisco


The ability of arts organizations and artists to thrive in a city requires sufficient, appropriate, and affordable facilitiesin which to produce, perform, or exhibit their work. The kinds of facilities required are many and varied - studios, rehearsal halls, theaters andconcert halls of various sizes and configurations, spaces suitable for the particular needs of dance rehearsal and performance, exhibitionspaces and galleries, live/work facilities, multipurpose centers, classroomspaces, administrative spaces, and art archives, among others.

Even with the addition of some notable new facilities in the past 15 years the supply does not meet the demand. There remains a persistent andpressing need for the retention and further development of affordablearts facilities.

A more directed program of facility maintenance, creative use of non-arts city facilities and public and private facilities partnerships will yield not only a more stable arts community but a more economically sound and artistically rich environment.

Review, revise and coordinate city permit policies and codes to better meet the needs of the arts.


Artists spaces, like all structures, are subject to City Building and Safety codes. With the notable exception of live/work spaces, the arts are generally not called out as specific uses in city Building and Safety codes. A formal review of building and safety codes as they affect the arts should be undertaken with the intent of determining whether the current use definitions and subsequent codes are sufficient to address the specific needs of the arts. Arts facilities and activities must often "fit" into a classification which is not wholly appropriate, and are then required to apply for permits of exception in order to comply with regulations. The permit process can be onerous and time consuming for artists and arts organizations, especially recognizing the complexity of the code compliance process.

Support and expand programs directed at enabling arts organizations and artists to comply with City building and safety codes and to rehabilitate arts spaces.


The City of San Francisco currently makes funds available to arts organizations and artists for code compliance purposes through a grants program administered through Grants for the Arts and through the Non-Profit Performing Arts Loan Program, administered by the Mayor's Office of Housing. Under specific conditions, funds are available to arts organizations for rehabilitation and renovation of arts facilities through Grants for the Arts and the Mayor's Office of Community Development. Loans for these same purposes are administered by the Mayor's Office of Housing. The City should continue to support and expand these programs to meet increasing needs.

Increase the use of City owned neighborhood facilities for the arts.


In 1976, following the City's decision to create ten neighborhood arts centers, the Department of Real Estate transferred the renovated Bayview Opera House to the Arts Commission for programmatic use. Also since 1976, the Arts Commission has purchased and renovated three buildings for use as cultural centers: the Mission Cultural Center, the South of Market Cultural Center, and the Western Addition Cultural Center. A fifth space is shared with the Chinese Culture Foundation at the Holiday Inn for a Chinatown neighborhood arts program.

Through its Neighborhood Arts Program, the Arts Commission has remained committed to supporting the neighborhood cultural centers. Resources should be developed to support these and future centers if they are to continue to serve their neighborhoods, the arts, and the city at large.

Preserve existing performing spaces in San Francisco.


From both the perspectives of preservation of cultural history and the current need for performance facilities in San Francisco, existing performing spaces should be preserved. Many old theaters have been destroyed over the years and have not been replaced. As one of many examples, the Fox Theater was destroyed when the Fox Plaza was developed and no new theater was built to take its place.

Outdoor performing spaces are vital elements within the city's mix of arts facilities and provide the residents of and visitors to San Francisco with the opportunity to enjoy both the natural beauty of the city and the arts. They also promote the use of San Francisco's public parks and public spaces. Maintaining existing outdoor facilities, such as Stern Grove and the Bandshell, will enhance their usefulness and attractiveness to the city. Those activities, and others, are important to the continuing ability of San Francisco to offer its community a broad diversity of cultural offerings. New outdoor arts spaces should also be encouraged through private and public developments.

Develop and maintain a mid-sized downtown performing arts facility available to community-based, culturally diverse arts groups easily accessible to visitors.


Many arts organizations do not have access to "downtown" audiences and arts facilities. Community arts groups would gain access to visitor/tourist audiences in a downtown facility, since those audiences often do not venture into outlying neighborhoods. The neighborhoods themselves are not always designed to handle the increased congestion and parking demands resulting from popular theatrical/dance performances.

Insure the active participation of artists and arts organizations in the planning and use of de-commissioned military facilities in San Francisco.


Military facilities at the Presidio have been considered for de-commissioning, while the Hunter's Point Shipyard is to be transferred to the Redevelopment Agency beginning in 2004. The Presidio contains many structures which are suitable for use by artists and arts organizations who would bring new vitality and character, as well as economic benefits through tourism to the Presidio.

Portions of Hunters Point Shipyard are currently used for artists studio space and small businesses. The continued and expanded use of these facilities for the arts are considered, and included as a general principal of the Hunters Point Shipyard Redevelopment Plan. For specific policies governing Hunters Point Shipyard, see the Hunters Point Shipyard Redevelopment Plan and its accompanying Design for Development document.

Two national models for the successful adaptation of military properties for use as artists spaces are Fort Mason Art Center in San Francisco and the Headlands Art Center at Fort Barry in Marin County.

Encourage the use of available and existing facilities under local government jurisdiction by artists and arts organizations.


Agencies that have major construction programs, such as the Port of San Francisco, the Redevelopment Agency and the Airport, participate in the public percent for art program but do not necessarily have policies relative to the use of their facilities for arts purposes. The Redevelopment Agency's project, Yerba Buena Gardens, is a notable exception. These agencies are also governed by state and federal statutes and are somewhat restricted in setting forth policies that don't relate to their government mandates. Arts uses are not automatically excluded under these jurisdictions; and innovative ways to extend the parameters of use can often be found.

Include arts spaces in new public construction when appropriate.


As public buildings are constructed or renovated, their potential for use as arts spaces should be a primary consideration. Arts use should be viewed broadly, and include consideration of performances, live/work, exhibition, rehearsal, meeting, administrative, and classroom spaces, in spaces not normally thought of as arts spaces.

The inclusion of artists spaces in new construction does not necessarily mean increased expense, but often is simply a different viewing of construction options, especially if conceived of in the initial planning for the building. To create space which is suitable for arts use could be as simple as modifying the plans for an existing plaza so that it can be used as a performance space, or including gallery lighting in a lobby area so that it becomes an exhibition space.

Create opportunities for private developers to include arts spaces in private developments city-wide.


The City should take the lead in creating new incentives to promote the inclusion of arts facilities in private development, such as the following: adjustments to floor area ratios if nonprofit arts spaces are included in the development; taxes deferred or accrued; special financial mechanisms developed; or code or zoning variances given in exchange for including "cultural amenities" in land development projects.

Assist artists and arts organizations in attaining ownership or long-term control of arts spaces.


Artists are displaced for two primary reasons: the economics of the neighborhood or community have changed and they are unable to continue to afford to live or work there, or the actual spaces in which they live and/or work are destroyed, altered, or incorporated because of new development. Artists and arts organizations must be protected from displacement to avoid a recurrence of the exodus of artists from North Beach, for example. Displacement could be controlled if artists and arts organizations own or possess long-term leases on their facilities.

Identify, recognize, and support existing arts clusters and, wherever possible, encourage the development of clusters of arts facilities and arts related businesses throughout the city.


The tendency of cultural activities to cluster together is born out of the energy and excitement that is generated when there is more than one activity taking place in a limited area. As discussed in the 1987 "Facilities and Programs for the Non-Profit Arts in San Francisco," theater, music and visual arts audiences grow when there is the opportunity for exposure to various cultures, especially when those opportunities take place in geographic clusters. The Performing Arts Center and Fort Mason Center are good examples of tight clusters and the Mission/Potrero district is a good example of a more general cluster.

In addition to the value to audiences, cluster arts development can spur creative collaboration among arts organizations and artists, resulting in provocative artistic products as well as cost savings through shared facilities and/or shared administrative functions.
Further, cluster development has an economic development value. Arts-related businesses and commercial, retail, and hospitality establishments, finding a ready market for their goods and services, often locate and prosper in arts cluster developments.


There is no one universally held definition of public art. It is a term which carries many meanings, implications, assumptions, all of which are filtered through the experience and eye of the beholder. What can be said is that public art has undergone radical changes in the past twenty years, and that today's interpretation is broader, more fluid, and continuing to evolve. Public art enhances a city's visual aesthetic, provides citizens with the opportunity to experience creative expressions and beauty; provides cities and neighborhoods with identity and focus; provokes and promotes community dialogue; brings economic benefits in the form of tourism; provides jobs for artists, fabricators, shippers, suppliers; and changes attitudes about places and visual environment. Public art is no longer just the monument in the plaza, but is a complex process which involves and invigorates the viewer.

Traditional definitions of public art have also grown to include permanent art forms such as frescoes and tile murals as well as temporary installations. New directions in public art demand the encouragement of a diversity of art forms, so that art in public places truly represents all segments of the public.

San Francisco has long been a supporter and innovator in the public art field. There are four public art programs in the City of San Francisco, the Art in Public Places program administered by the Arts Commission, the Percent for Art programs of the Planning Commission and Redevelopment Agency, and the public art program of the Airports Commission. Those programs function independently, each responsible for a specific jurisdiction - the Arts Commission to projects on or adjacent to the site of public construction including the Airport; the Airports Commission program which deals solely with rotating exhibitions on he airport premises; the Redevelopment Agency, to art in major private development in redevelopment areas; and the Planning Department, whose public art program is restricted to the downtown area.

Develop a public art plan and requisite ordinance for the City of San Francisco.


Changing the guidelines of the current Art in Public Places program is best accomplished within the context of a public art plan. A public art plan for the City of San Francisco would articulate the city-wide vision for public art and provide guidance to the various public art programs.

A public art plan would not affect the autonomy of existing programs, but would rather enable each program to draw guidance from policy statements regarding, for example, the desired mix of media, or whether or how many projects should be undertaken by Bay Area artists. The plan might indicate opportunities for collaborative projects.

Protect, maintain and preserve existing art work in the City Collection and art required by ordinance.


Through the San Francisco Art Commission's Art in Public Places Program and through purchases and donations of art to the City over many generations, the City of San Francisco has acquired a sizable and prestigious collection of art works. This collection, distinguished from the world renowned collections under the jurisdiction of the City's art museums, is under the purview of the Arts Commission.

In addition to the acquisitions made through the Art in Public Places program, the Arts Commission is also responsible for the many historical monuments throughout the city. Further, the Arts Commission is concerned with those artworks which are part of a landmark or other structure, such as the murals in Coit Tower (Telegraph Hill), the Mothers Building (Zoological Gardens), and the Beach Chalet (Golden Gate Park murals). Adequate funding must be provided to maintain and preserve these artworks.

There are also "public" art works in the city which do not fall under the City's purview, but which because of their location and/or history, are integral elements of the City's character and visual scenery. Many of those artworks are owned privately. These include art required by the San Francisco Percent for Art ordinances. The City should actively work with property owners to assist them in working with artists and the community to preserve these artworks and in complying with California statutes regarding destruction or moving of artwork.

Publish and periodically update public art catalogs.


Documentation of San Francisco's many public art works and projects is critical to the enjoyment and recognition of those works by residents and visitors. Adequate funding must be provided to insure that the city not only acquires art, but, through updated catalogs, promotes its existence and educates the public about this valuable City resource.




Art and Culture are used interchangeably in this plan, reinforcing the belief that the creative expressions of all segments of the community and all disciplines are equal in stature and worth.

Artists spaces, or Arts spaces, means any space in which art is created, performed, or exhibited. Artists spaces include, among others, studios, rehearsal halls, theaters, concert halls, exhibition spaces, live/work spaces, galleries, museums, as well as educational and administrative facilities.

Arts community includes the broad spectrum of artists, arts organizations, arts supporters, patrons, and audiences, which together represent San Francisco's interest and achievement in the arts.

Arts education in the Plan includes opportunities for individuals of all ages and backgrounds to learn about, participate in, and enjoy the arts of all disciplines and cultures.

Arts Service Organizations are membership organizations which provide information, technical assistance and educational programs for their constituents, often within a single arts discipline. Services may also include arts presenting, re-granting, and publications.

City of San Francisco or the City refers to the local government and its agencies and commissions, which govern the City and County of San Francisco.

Economic development includes policies, programs, and practices designed to increase and enhance the economy of San Francisco.

A Goal in this Plan is a broad statement of desire under which Objectives, which are measurable statements of intent, are organized. Under each Objective are Policies, which are guiding principles, followed by Recommendations, concrete actions which can be taken to implement policies.

Institution is an arts organization distinguished by budget size (generally $1 million+ ), artistic and administrative stability, public recognition, and development of a loyal audience and market.

Live/work refers to those spaces in which artists both live and work, governed by the Live/Work ordinances of the City of San Francisco.

Master Plan is the document which, through its stated goals, objectives and policies, guides the land use and zoning decisions of the City and County of San Francisco.

Multicultural arts organization means an organization "based within an ethnic minority community, as reflected in its staff, board of directors, audiences, and content of artistic programming. Multicultural applicants are defined as being deeply rooted in and reflective of an ethnic community, such as a Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander or Native American community." (California Arts Council, Multicultural Advancement Program Guidelines, 1986)

The Nonprofit Arts includes those organizationsdedicated to the creation or presentation of art which are incorporatedas not-for-profit organizations in the State of California and are determinedto be not-for-profit by the federal government under Section 501(c)(3)of the Internal Revenue Code.

State/Local Partnership is a program of the San Francisco Arts Commission, created with the responsibility for cultural planning and acting as a resource to an Francisco's arts community.




In 1987, City support for the arts also included $1,185,314 for the Asian Art Museum; $59,993 to the Commission on Aging for the Mt. Zion Artworks program which offers weekly visits to home-bound clients by a staff of professional artists and $45,620 for the Pleasure Endeavors program which provides participatory arts services to residents in long-term care facilities, as well as other services; $4,244,000 to the Fine Arts Museums, of which $759,000 was for capital improvements; $41,839 to the Office of the Mayor, Motion Picture Coordinator; $115,839 to the Public Library for its Children's Services Programs, which includes performances, arts and crafts, puppet shows, reading and singing aloud programs, and films, festivals, and videos and $37,919 for its Adult Services Program which offers films, lectures, music, videos, author and artist receptions, and poetry and play readings; $1,714,918 to the Cultural Division of the Recreation and Park Department for a variety of recreational/cultural programs; $482,490 to the Arts Commission for the Neighborhood Arts Program which provides start-up funds, technical assistance, and support services for neighborhood-based arts organizations, and operates four cultural centers, $58,000 for the care and maintenance of the City's art collection,$13,932 for the annual arts festival, $482,064 from property taxes for the annual POPS Symphony concerts, $80,283 for the Art Commission Gallery, and $288,637 for administration; and $4,364,490 for the War memorial and Performing Arts Center, of which 66.4% comes from the Hotel Tax Fund, for construction, administration, and operation of War Memorial and Performing Arts Center buildings and grounds.



Amendments by Planning Commission Resolution 14698 adopted on 09/17/1998.

Amendments by Board of Supervisors Ordinance 0298-04 adopted on 12/14/2004.

Amendments by Board of Supervisors Ordinance 0072-09 adopted on 04/28/2009.

Amendments by Board of Supervisors Ordinance 0125-20 adopted on 07/28/2020.