A San Francisco Fund Offers Relief for the Arts Community and Cultural Institutions

It is a difficult time for artists and cultural institutions. With shelter-in-place orders leading to the temporary closure of venues for music, dance, comedy and theater, performers find themselves with no place to practice their craft. They also find themselves without a paycheck. But many states and cities have stepped up to help artists and institutions financially during this time and ensure they are ready to hit their marks as soon as it is possible.

The Fund

This month San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced an Arts and Artists Relief Fund, launched with an initial $2.5 million from the city. The relief, meant to mitigate the impacts on artists and cultural intuitions suffering from coronavirus-related closures, is a combination of funding strategies that include grants and low-interest loans to organizations and working artists.

“Our artists and cultural institutions are at the heart of who we are as a city and a community,” Mayor Breed says. “This community is also getting hit hard right now as people are suffering from job loss, business closures and economic disruption during the COVID-19 outbreak. We need to do everything we can to stabilize our arts community now.”

Individuals will be eligible for up to $2,000, with priority going to vulnerable cultural populations including black, indigenous, immigrant, trans and people with disabilities, while organizations can apply for anywhere between $5,000 to $25,000. The Center for Cultural Innovation will administer the $1.5 million in grants to individual artists, teaching artists, and small- to mid-sized arts and cultural organizations. The Arts Loan Fund (ALF) of Northern California Grantmakers will administer the addition $1 million that will go toward low-interest loans to small- to mid-sized arts and cultural organizations.

“Our city’s artists, art workers and arts organizations are deeply impacted along with our colleagues across the nonprofit sector,” says Deborah Cullinan, co-chair of SF Arts Alliance and CEO at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. “In this unprecedented moment, we salute mayor Breed’s expedient and decisive actions in support of the health and wellbeing of the people of San Francisco.”

SF Ballet Ratmansky
SF Ballet in Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Trilogy. Photo © Erik Tomasson.

The city is also encouraging tax-deductible public donations, which can be given here. “I hope our public investment will encourage private donors to join us in supporting our vulnerable artists during this challenging time,” Breed says.

The Bay Area’s Major Cultural Institutions and How to Support Them

SF Symphony

Support the symphony’s artistic, educational and community programs with a gift.

San Francisco Opera

Become a member or make a gift.

San Francisco Ballet

Become a donor.

Broadway SF

Become a member.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Staff is still working remotely, make a donation.

American Conservatory Theater

The theater is suffering massive losses while closed, donate.

Marin Symphony

Join the Conductor’s Circle or donate.

Oakland Symphony

Become a donor.


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Dan Jewett HeadshotDaniel Jewett has been a Bay Area journalist for more than two decades, getting his start as editor of his hometown newspaper, the Foster City Progress. Jewett went on to serve as Associate Editor for Oakland and Alameda magazines before crossing the bridge to serve as Marin Magazine and Spaces’ Managing Editor. Jewett still calls Oakland home, where he writes and plays music with his wife in My Little Hum and hangs out with his chickens, bees and cats, Holly and Maple.