Board of Supervisor Candidates: DISTRICT 5 - London Breed

DISTRICT 5 - London Breed

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.

I served for 10 years as the Executive Director of the African American Arts & Culture Complex where we provided empowering programs through the arts to my community. I have witnessed first-hand how arts and expression can truly change lives. I am proud to continue supporting artists and art organizations throughout my tenure as Supervisor. Our city has always been a haven for artists and it’s imperative that not only we continue to support the arts at all levels, but that we support policies around housing that keep them in our communities.

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?

Growing up in public housing in the Western Addition, I didn’t have a lot but I was the product of public schools. It’s a shame that arts education hasn’t been a priority for decades, but as Hillary Clinton would say “it takes a village”. I believe that nonprofit and after school programs have an important role to play in that effort. As the Executive Director of the African American Art and Culture Complex, I provided after school arts programs and support for thousands of children in the Western Addition. But it’s also important that we fund arts at the adult and professional levels. I believe in artists getting paid for their work – not just the final product but the hours and hours of training and practice that goes into that final piece of work. I actually display art in my office at City Hall and make it an avenue for artists to sell their work.

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 am an art lover in every way – I am interested in every opportunity to improve our community with art. I am lucky to live in and represent a district with so many public art pieces and murals. The more the better!

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?

As I referenced earlier, I believe that nonprofit and after school programs have an important role to play in that effort. As the Executive Director of the African American Art and Culture Complex, I provided after school arts programs and support for thousands of children in the Western Addition.

How will you improve affordable housing and tenant protections, both for low income and middle class San Franciscans? Do you support artist-specific affordable housing? Why or why not?

To me, affordable housing means just that – housing that an everyday person has access to. We live in a city that boasts many different income levels. A lot of people who aren’t rich but have good jobs, are finding themselves in a place where they can’t qualify for affordable housing or any kind of assistance, but they still can’t afford market rate. It’s also incredibly important that we make a real connection to the people who live and work here – artists as well. That’s why I passed groundbreaking Neighborhood Preference legislation to prioritize our neighbors for the affordable housing units built in our community. Recently, the federal government dealt a devastating blow to our plan, ruling that federally-funded housing projects could not use Neighborhood Preference. My goal is to preserve the affordable housing we do have, rehabilitate and build more affordable units, and to continue working on a blueprint of the neighborhood that analyzes the policies of the past, assesses our present, and outlines our future next steps. As Supervisor I have: passed legislation prioritizing neighborhood residents for affordable housing in our community; introduced San Francisco’s highest affordable housing requirements; protected thousands of rent-controlled units from demolition; successfully pushed to increase citywide requirements from the 2012 standard of 12%--we are now at 25%; and rehabilitated vacant public housing units, providing permanent housing for 179 homeless families.

What can the City do to address skyrocketing rents -- for office, studio, rehearsal and performance spaces -- for artists, arts groups and other nonprofits?

The City can and should provide more direct subsidies to arts organizations. It should make surplus City space available for arts uses, even if it’s only temporary, as I have helped arrange currently on a parcel in Hayes Valley. The City should also push for dedicated arts spaces in large projects such as Mission Rock or Hunter’s Point Shipyard.

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?

Private development in some portions of the City must set aside 1% of their construction budget for art, or support for arts facilities. Would you support extending that 1% for art requirement on new development to the entire city? Why or why not?

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