Board of Education Candidates: Rob Geller

Rob Geller

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.

The impact of artists and arts organizations on our city is profound.  The Community Music Center on Capp Street in the Mission is a beautiful example of an arts organization changing lives and bringing music to diverse communities. Through the CMC, my children have studied instruments, sung for years in a childrens’ chorus, performed as singing Angels in the annual La Poserela holiday show, sang for seniors and with seniors, performed in small summer ensembles and solo recitals, and participated in all kinds of musical enrichment.  This 95-year-old organization is a treasure, offers sliding scale rates and financial aid, and is wonderfully reflective of the cultures of the Mission District.  One of my goals as a School Board Commissioner will be to hire more music teachers in the Elementary Schools, so students can have more music instruction, so they really become fluent in the second language of music, and benefit from the mathematical and neurodevelopmental boost music study offers.

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?

Let’s bring more arts and resources directly to the underserved communities, and continue to support, and expand, progams like AIM Concerts and similar enrichment in all Elementary Schools.  Let’s hire comedians to teach comedy in the schools, to counteract all the awful news and violence children may be exposed to in disadvantaged neighborhoods.  We can hire art therapists and expand the use of art therapy to work through behavioral health issues.

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.  

Living in the Mission, I am surrounded by beautiful murals celebrating and depicting all kinds of manifestations of life, often intimately tied to and reflective of their immediate neighborhoods.  I would love to see more of them, all over the city, in every neighborhood.  It would be great if San Francisco had the vibrantly painted fire hydrants, utility boxes and bus benches on the streets that they have in other cities.                    
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 can strengthen current and build new connections between SFUSD and outside arts organizations.  Part of my platform is to try to put dedicated music teacher back into every Elementary School, which will improve all the areas mentioned.  We can do this by working to increase the amount of money in the currently $65 million PEEF fund and/or reapportion the money already in the fund.  The construction of the new School of the Arts campus on Van Ness will give our arts education a great boost.

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

Hire artists, musicians, dancers and comedians to work in the schools!  There are thousands of such artists and performers in San Francisco.  Let these artist/teachers live in newly-built teacher housing.  We should support initiatives that make it possible for local arts organizations to afford their increasing rents, and perhaps even find space in SFUSD sites for them to operate.  We can raise money for the arts by regularly auctioning off art created by students in District-wide events.

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!!  This is an absolutely essential measure to keep families and arts organizations in our increasingly unaffordable city.

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