Board of Supervisor Candidates: DISTRICT 11 - Kimberly Alvarenga
DISTRICT 11 - Kimberly Alvarenga
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.
District 11 is building stronger communities by using community-building processes. We are home to an incredible collection of murals. Community leaders worked with Precita Eyes to bring young people and elders together to inspire many of them. Our murals share the history, values, and understanding the diversity of our working class district. You can see an example of that storytelling in “Waiting for the 52”, one of the most recognized murals in the Excelsior. Our most recent murals celebrates the life of Demetrio “Demie” Braceros, our former gardener at Cayuga Park. Demie was known for his wood-carved statues and sculptures which have made the park a place of community reflection. The mural intersects the two different mediums of visual art, emphasizing how art defines District 11.
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?
Supervisor Avalos introduced District 11 Art Walks, which helped to not only give our local artists visibility while engaging members of the community. Mama Art Cafe and Cumaica cafes are two of our greatest partners in holding space for our neighborhood artists. I want to continue those traditions. We also need to think outside of the box as to what it considered “art” by cultivating cultural and ethnic forms of art, dance, and music to create cultural vibrance along our merchant corridors. We have so many forms of art that come out of the the diverse cultures in our district that are not always seen at face value by the mainstream art world.
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.
Many of our alleys and stairways along Cayuga and Outer Mission were considered unsafe and uninviting for many years. We used murals and mosaics to bring new life to these spaces I want to continue to the work we’ve done to renovate those areas. In terms of environmental messaging, I want to use the indigenous histories that many of our Latino and Filipino residents have to tell the story of how our ancestors valued the earth to make the connection of how we need to respect our environment today.
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?
I will advocate for more funding for Rec and Park to prioritize art-inclusive after school programs. Many of our park clubhouses are rented out to nonprofits and community organizations. We should be looking to house the organizations appropriately instead of just pushing them into tiny Rec and Park facilities, so that they can better provide the services people need. We can also do more work with the Excelsior YMCA to create after-school and senior programs. Finally, we need to address how gentrification impacts arts organizations that are working to benefit our young people. Loco Bloco was pushed out of it’s space at San Francisco Community School because newer residents were complaining about noise. This organization was helping young people to find a purpose instead of getting into trouble. They’ve since moved to the Mission District and our young people lost an incredible mentoring resource.
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?
I do support artist-specific affordable housing. Of all of the candidates, I have the most experience with creating policy and with securing tenant protections and will bring that to this office. Again, we need to think outside the box of art as a mainstream idea, or something that you see in a museum. All kinds of people create art. We need to ensure that community artists have the same protections that we all have. When we lose our musicians, our muralists, our dancers, and our storytellers, we lose the soul of our community.
What can the City do to address skyrocketing rents -- for office, studio, rehearsal and performance spaces -- for artists, arts groups and other nonprofits?
In District 11, Communities United for Health and Justice is a coalition that has mapped out spaces that can be used for the arts, by creating partnerships with community members and organizations. There is a lot of space in D11 for this to happen. Supervisor Avalos secured 6 million dollars for the Geneva Car Barn and I want to see it through that there will art space provided there.
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?
Yes. District 11 is home to many low income families that are one paycheck or major catastrophe away from being homeless, and we have one of the highest rates of family displacement in the city. When we talk about homelessness, families are often the invisible face of the issue. It is critical that we are securing the funding needed to pull them out of these circumstances.
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?
Absolutely yes. We need it. When we were looking at Healthy San Francisco, we looked at it from a citywide lens, that everyone had the right to affordable health care. That is how we need to look at issues such as housing and space for our arts, because it impacts our young people, our families, or seniors, our LGBT communities, and our immigrant communities, just as much as poverty, health, and education do.