TBA Online: News & Features: September 2018

Yes on E!: Back to the ballot

Wednesday, September 5, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: TBA Staff
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by Brad Erickson

Two years ago, San Francisco’s arts community came agonizingly close to winning sweeping changes to the city’s arts funding through Proposition S. With a vote of two-thirds needed to win, Prop S came within a few points of securing the necessary 66.7%. Now, after months of planning, the broad coalition, including Theatre Bay Area, that created Prop S is heading back to the ballot box with a new measure, Proposition E. The letters have changed but the goal for arts advocates is the same: to guarantee stable and growing funding for the city’s artists and nonprofit arts groups for years to come.

Like Prop S, Proposition E seeks to reconnect arts funding to a set portion of San Francisco’s sizeable hotel tax. For more than fifty years, that nexus provided secure and steadily growing funds for the city’s arts community, underwriting Grants for the Arts and the city’s Cultural Equity Grants. The funding scheme became a national model replicated in localities across the country. But City Hall, fearing litigation (the original legislation had not been approved by the now required two-thirds vote of the electorate), severed that link in 2015. Since then, arts funding in San Francisco has been left to the shifting winds of budget politics.

Proposition E has been crafted by a broad coalition of 70-some arts, culture and community groups. The coalition’s steering committee (including myself) worked closely with Supervisors Peskin and Tang, the city’s arts agencies, and the city Controller to fine-tune the funding formulas. The measure would boost funding for Grants for the Arts (with its 200 plus grantees), significantly increase funds for the Arts Commission’s Cultural Equity Grants, and provide new monies for the city’s Cultural Districts. And, perhaps just as importantly, funding for the arts will increase steadily over time (San Francisco’s hotel tax historically grows at a rate that well outpaces inflation).

Proposition E is attracting support from almost all corners. It’s vigorously supported by City Hall, with unanimous support from the Board of Supervisors and an important thumbs-up from the city’s new mayor London Breed. It’s been endorsed by a variety of civic groups, ranging from the policy committee of the Chamber of Commerce to progressive Democratic clubs to neighborhood committees throughout the city.

Now it’s the arts community’s turn to back the measure. Join Theatre Bay Area and Actors Equity Association on Monday, September 24 at 7:00 PM at the SF Playhouse as we rally the theatre community—artists and arts groups alike—to support Prop E. Whether you live in San Francisco or not, Prop E will increase opportunities for any artist who even occasionally works in the city. Here are other ways to get involved:


Join us at the rally on September 24.

Volunteer for the campaign.


Learn more and sign up on the campaign’s website: www.artsforeveryonesf.com/home

Theatre companies:

Endorse the measure here.

Promote Prop E in your show programs and plug Prop E in your curtain speeches. (TBA will send you sample language.)

Encourage your staff, board and audiences to volunteer and give!

Learn more and sign up on the campaign’s website: www.artsforeveryonesf.com/home

As San Francisco’s Director of Cultural Affairs, Tom DeCaigny, says, Prop E is a measure to last a century. Let’s seize this opportunity to guarantee arts funding for decades to come!