Bay Area Arts Worker Relief Fund Begins Second Wave of Grants ~ July 22, 2020

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Bay Area Arts Worker Relief Funds - (Please Donate)

Due to the Covid-19 Crisis Artists, Workers, and Organizations Are Struggling.


The cancelation and closure of events, performances, and programs are having a drastic effect on the arts and culture sector and its workers.


Please help by donating to the Bay Area Arts Worker Relief Funds, NOW.  


Arts for a Better Bay Area has joined with several local Bay Area arts service organizations to establish funds to aid cultural workers (sector-wide) during the crisis.


Thanks to the following organizations for stepping up to develop this initiative to assist arts workers in need: ArtspanDancer's GroupEmerging Arts ProfessionalsIndependent Arts & MediaIntersection for the Arts, and Theatre Bay Area 


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STATE of the ARTS: A Bay Area Arts Blog Forum

Barry Hessenius, Former Director of the California Arts Council, hosted a virtual forum with some of our esteemed local arts agency leaders.  Check out a highlight from each question, click through to read the whole forum on Barry's blog, and post your comments to participate!

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Bucking the Trend: Securing Affordable Spaces for the Arts


By Shelley Trott, Director, Arts Strategy & Ventures, Kenneth Rainin Foundation

I’ve spent a good part of my life in the arts—as a dancer and choreographer, teacher, filmmaker, and now a funder with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. The Foundation invests in visionary artists and small to mid-size arts organizations in the Bay Area that push the boundaries of creative expression. So when we began seeing their work threatened by a volatile real estate market, we had to seek a solution.

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Emerging Bay Area Arts Organizations Face Unique Challenges

Re-granting, crowdfunding, cultural data, and funding transparency promise greater equity

 By Kelly Varian, Communications Specialist at Sustain Arts 

Six months ago Sustain Arts launched a series of free cultural data resources tailored to meet the needs of arts organizations in the Bay Area. The online platform provides data for everyday strategic decision-making. For example, users track funding connections between grantmakers and grantees, search for arts organizations by budget size, discipline, and county, and explore audience participation rates and demographics. Yet Sustain Arts does much more than supply data. 

At Sustain Arts, we endeavor to tell a story about the Bay Area arts sector that is grounded in facts and to facilitate community dialogue informed by a shared understanding of the health and sustainability of the local arts ecosystem. To this end, Sustain Arts published a Bay Area Key Learnings Report analyzing 17 highly relevant national and local data sets. The report highlights unique challenges and opportunities facing small arts organizations in the Bay Area. 

At first glance, Sustain Arts data suggests sector-wide prosperity. Compared to the rest of the nation, the Bay Area arts sector recovered rapidly from the 2008 recession. Revenue jumped 30% between 2009 and 2012 (compared to a 7% national average), attendance increased 4%, and both earned and contributed income went up for non-profit organizations. Most impressive of all, board giving spiked 222% in the same period. 

Yet despite sector-wide success, a deeper dive into the data reveals this narrative of resilience may not ring true for all. Financial gains for the Bay Area’s largest arts organizations inflate sector-wide averages and smaller, emerging organizations lag financially. Organizations with annual budgets under $10M show negative margins and have a .3% deficit on average, while organizations with budgets over $10M enjoy a 23% surplus. Finally, very small arts organizations are most likely to fail. Those with budgets under $100K have a 69% survival rate, and those with budgets of over $1M have a 90% survival rate.   


To many in the arts community, these statistics may not come as a surprise. Conversations about creating equity have become ubiquitous at Bay Area arts sector conferences and coalition meetings, and cultural leaders increasingly advocate for policy to protect the arts. Sustain Arts data provides insights into the specific factors destabilizing small organizations.


1. Bay Area arts and cultural funding patterns favor large organizations. Less than 15 percent of Bay Area arts nonprofits have budgets over $1 million, but they receive over three-quarters of foundation funding for the arts in the Bay Area.  


2. Smaller organizations have limited geographic reach. The larger a nonprofit arts and cultural organization, the further Bay Area residents will travel to visit it. Participants will travel over 15 miles on average to visit an organization with a budget of $8M, and only ten miles to visit an organization with a budget under $8M.  


While small organizations face many challenges, Sustain Arts data reveals a promising number of opportunities for increased sustainability, namely re-granting, crowdfunding, access to cultural data resources, and greater funding transparency.


1. Re-granting supports small organizations. More than half of dollars re-granted by intermediary organizations such as Sustain Arts partners Theatre Bay Area, Dancers’ Group, and Silicon Valley Creates, support arts and cultural organizations with annual revenues of less than $100,000.


2. Alternative giving vehicles provide a new revenue stream for small for-profit and nonprofit entities. More than $24.6 million was raised on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter for arts and culture related projects in the Bay Area in 2013 alone. The vast majority of recipients were for-profits, while unincorporated entities, nonprofits, and individuals raised less. 


3. Sustain Arts levels the playing field in terms of access to cultural data. Arts and culture organizations in the Bay Area increasingly rely on data for critical fundraising, strategic planning, marketing, partnership development, and general operating activity; yet obtaining high-quality data can be prohibitively expensive, time-consuming and challenging, particularly for small to mid-sized organizations with limited resources. Sustain Arts seeks to create equal opportunity for all organizations by providing free and easy-to-use online cultural data resources to the public. 

4. Increased funding transparency promises a more equitable arts sector. The Sustain Arts/Bay Area platform enables users to examine the interrelationships among organizations and their funders, shifting demographics, and participation trends. By bringing these types of data together, we can begin to see how sector growth and development does or does not align with demographic changes or emerging cultural preferences. And we can begin to see whether capitalization flows favor large, established or small, emerging cultural organizations and how broadly (or narrowly) they serve the cultural needs of the community. 

Whether you are part of a small or large organization, nonprofit or for-profit, Sustain Arts would love to hear from you. Do our observations ring true to your experiences? Are you taking advantage of re-granting, crowdfunding, or Sustain Arts’ free cultural data resources? Would you like to incorporate Sustain Arts’ Key Learnings into a conference or event? Please email me at kellyvarian(at)gmail(dot)com or take this brief Sustain Arts survey.

Take a few more minutes to read the Bay Area Key Learnings Report 

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SNAPSHOT: Cultural Equity Statements

Mark Sabb is the Director of Marketing & Communications at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) and Sarah Pritchard is the Director of Communications at SOMArts Cultural Center. They recently sat down to discuss organizational statements on cultural equity in the arts. Here’s an excerpt from their conversation, including quick links to more resources on crafting a cultural equity statement that fits your organization.


  • With organizations like Americans for the Arts adopting Cultural Equity Statements, it seems like there is growing momentum behind arts organizations adopting statements that detail their approach to cultural equity. What do you think is motivating this trend?
  • Increasingly, arts organizations are understanding their responsibility to the communities they service. I think Americans for the Arts did a great job offering a definition of the term as embodying “the values, policies, and practices that ensure that all people—including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on race/ethnicity, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, geography, citizenship status, or religion—are represented in the development of arts policy; the support of artists; the nurturing of accessible, thriving venues for expression; and the fair distribution of programmatic, financial, and informational resources.”
  • Cultural Equity takes into account that we all have valuable stories and complex histories while also recognizing that certain communities have histories which have been historically repressed. I think it is important for every arts organization to have these ideals as a part of their core values. 
  • We were asked to create a template for Bay Area organizations interested in creating cultural equity statements. After talking it over, we decided that we would rather provide a list of resources so that organizations could be more intentional about crafting statements that are a good fit for their unique settings. We didn’t want to encourage a copy-and-paste approach to addressing systemic issues of inequality in organizations’ cultures. 
  • Along with the direction Sarah stated above, we believe that it is important to remember the cultural perspective and history of the community you serve when creating cultural equity statements. As arts organizations we should do all we can to encourage strength in diversity and collaboration.
  • As part of ABBA’s work, we are committed to promoting a just and fair arts ecosystem in the Bay Area — working together to eradicate systemic racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia when they manifest in the arts world. If adopting a cultural equity statement at your arts organization will help achieve those goals, see below for some of the resources we were able to find and contact ABBA if you would like to connect about how to implement a cultural equity statement. We would love to work with you!

Example cultural equity statements:

Resources to support organizations adopting cultural equity statements:


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Cultural Space Welcome (2016)

Hi Artists and Supporters,

As many of you know, there has been a flurry of activity around SF arts funding in the last year and many people want to know how to learn more. Navigating the nexus of politics, local funding and art-making can be a daunting task, so this is our effort to help fill you in on some of the details.

Basically, last year, some local artists and arts organizations decided to come together, ask for increased arts funding, leverage some political clout and ABBA was created. What's ABBA you ask? ABBA is Arts for a Better Bay Area and we are a coalition to help educate about arts-related matters and increase arts funding in the Bay Area.

Within ABBA are a few different components and some of us are involved with the Cultural Space Committee, a sub group that feels passionately about improving access to and retention of local art spaces and we want you to help.


We are really excited about hosting a special cultural spaces public meeting at SOMArts on October 17 and would love to hear from you about what our community needs. What do you think local art spaces should be doing? What do you need to know in order to feel more engaged, more informed and to help you articulate what you think needs to happen?  We’ll also breakdown the two local ballot measures that help support art and artists in San Francisco, and make sure you’re informed come election day on November 8.

So reach out to us and let us know what you think. ABBA has a great website and we will be populating it with lots of helpful documents, resources, FAQs and info to keep you updated on important meetings that relate to cultural spaces. We will also be working on organizing the public meeting this summer and we can use lots of help to make that happen.

Joen & Joe

ABBA Cultural Space Committee Co-chairs

 Cultural Space Committee aims to develop and implement preservation strategies for cultural spaces and artist housing.



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ABBA Open Meeting - Recap (April 2016)

Open Meeting - Recap

On Monday, April 11th, 2016 ABBA held an Open Meeting at SOMArts Cultural Center to review the work and achievements of the last year while beginning to examine and evaluate our next steps moving forward. Everything from artist displacement, operational funds for small-to-mid sized institutions, youth opportunities, and other relevant arts topics were discussed. The presentation included words from ABBA leadership, institutions such as the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC), Grants for the Arts (GFTA), and the ABBA Arts Budget Committee. Check out the documents available on our website to see details about how funds are allocated, along with updates concerning ABBA proposals for the upcoming year, and other useful information.

 ABBA Open Meeting April 2016ABBA Open Meeting April 2016 _2


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