Board of Education Candidates: Ian Kalin

Ian Kalin

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.

Arts and artists are absolutely essential to the life, character and future of San Francisco. I have witnessed this through my work as a Board Member with the Blue Bear School of Music. This San Francisco institution, the “original school of rock” and currently housed in Fort Mason, has improved the lives of thousands of people and served as a community hub for artistic education. One of their programs delivers instruments, instructors and musical programming to the City’s poorest citizens and also augments public school education whose music funding has been cut. Blue Bear, and other institutions like it such as the Community Music Center in the Mission, are part of the core ecosystem of San Francisco’s cultural vibrancy. We believe in expression. We believe in taking care of each other. And we believe in keeping centers like this inside our great City.

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?

By protecting, and increasing the investment in, arts and creativity education.

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.

Neighborhood priorities and civic priorities go hand-in-hand.  Through partnerships between the private-sector and public sector as well as managed partnerships with neighborhoods, cooperative projects can help diverse people achieve common goals. As demonstrated by our City’s public 311 call logs, people everywhere in San Francisco care about the City’s appearance and cleanliness.  Therefore, when city officials coordinate with artists to create mural projects like those highlighted in the question, we are actually achieving a core City service.  I believe public spaces can also be used for innovation and Smart City experiments.  For example, consider the “Living Innovation Zones” that the Mayor’s Office launched in partnership with the Exploratorium and other partners.  These projects educate, convene people, improve the city’s character, and often lend themselves to improvements in the city’s transit and wi-fi infrastructure.

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?

We need to significantly improve the level of funding in San Francisco’s schools. I have a detailed plan for how to achieve goal, in collaboration with SFUSD’s diverse stakeholders. The details of this plan are available at

How can the SFUSD help retain our artists and arts organizations?

For individuals, we need to significantly increase the salary of arts teachers.  For organizations, SFUSD should invest in them directly where appropriate to augment any gaps in their ability to deliver a world-class arts education to their students.

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.  Because I was compelled by the thoughtful and evidence-based argument presented by Jonathan Moscone in this SF Chronicle Op-Ed.

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