San Francisco Property Tax Payers Provide Direct Support to Community Arts Groups Through the Voluntary Arts Contribution Fund

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San Francisco property owners can help city arts groups purchase equipment and make physical improvements when paying Property Taxes by April 10, 2006 through the "Voluntary Arts Contribution Fund".

It's no secret that with the current U.S. and local economy struggling to meet basic needs of citizens, arts and cultural organizations continue to suffer difficult economic times. Yet in times of social and economic stress, people continue to turn to the arts and culture for affirmation, vision, protest, hope, and a sense of community and connectedness. San Francisco taxpayers make a direct difference for local arts groups and audiences through their participation in the Voluntary Arts Contribution Fund, administered through San Francisco’s Grants for the Arts, a program long imitated by other U.S. cities. The Voluntary Arts Contribution Fund (VACF), supported solely through contributions from San Francisco property taxpayers, offers local arts presenters funds for capital improvements, such as the purchase of equipment or facilities upgrades, that result in a safer, more secure, and more satisfying environment for the creation and enjoyment of their arts programs.

“The survival of San Francisco's unique cultural and artistic organizations is the responsibility of all of us”, said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “It has always been the case that the arts in our vibrant, world renowned culture capital have been supported by individual citizens. These are the true heroes and patrons of San Francisco's arts — not just the big, visible donors — and the VACF is a terrific way for them to come forward at this crucial time. They should know that every little helps, even a small contribution will make a big difference, and that 100% of all contributions go to the smallest organizations that need it most,” the Mayor added.

“It is rewarding to see how creatively these small arts groups use VACF funding to improve their work,” said Kary Schulman, Director of Grants for the Arts, which oversees the VACF program. “The VACF helps the San Francisco arts community both artistically and administratively.”

This year, over $100,00 will be distributed by the VACF to forty arts groups, which have been notified of grants for their requested capital improvements. Award amounts this year range from $1,100 to $4,000, for improvements that include lighting, sound, and recording equipment; software, security and telephone systems; repair of leaky windows, fire resistant curtains for theater spaces, dance studio mirrors, and other technical and safety needs. Known in the arts community as “little grants that make a big difference,” VACF funds come to the rescue when groups urgently need equipment or find themselves with emergency expenditures such as mandated safety hardware, new exit signs, wheelchair ramps, special security lighting, or other required or desired improvements.

VACF awards are recommended by a Citizens Advisory Committee, guided primarily by the Fund’s priorities: the need for safety-code related work and the impact these funds will have on the ability of a group to present its work, as well as enhance audience comfort and accessibility to arts facilities. Funding is done on a reimbursement basis, but when an organization does not have funds available to purchase equipment or make improvements, Grants for the Arts can facilitate Quick Qualifying Low Interest Loans from the Arts Loan Fund (ALF), which allows groups to take out a short-term loan for the full amount of the grant.

Since its founding in 1984 by the Board of Supervisors, more than a million dollars has been collected and distributed directly to arts organizations. An innovative collaboration between the Tax Collector's Office and Grants for the Arts, this program aims to provide an efficient and effective way for citizens to contribute to the City's cultural activities. All funds raised through the VACF go directly to City arts groups.

It is easy for San Francisco property taxpayers and others to step forward to help neighborhood arts and cultural organizations by adding a contribution of $5 or more for the arts when paying property taxes before April 10, 2006. Using a special coupon enclosed with their tax bill, taxpayers can “round up” the amount of their property tax payment check to include a contribution for the VACF, or write a separate check. Renters can also participate in helping the arts by sending a contribution directly to VACF, Room 347 City Hall, San Francisco, CA 94102.

San Francisco is one of the most enlightened cities in the nation in its support of arts and culture, and the philosophy of “promoting the City by supporting the arts” has made San Francisco one of the most attractive and exciting destinations for visitors and business travelers. The City’s arts funding program has been hailed as a national model, providing reliable financial support to over 200 nonprofit arts groups each year with the distribution of grant funds raised through programs such as the VACF and the Hotel Tax Fund, administered by Grants for the Arts. For further information about the Voluntary Arts Contribution Fund, call (415) 554- 6710 or visit

The list of 2006 Voluntary Arts Contribution Awardees:

42nd Street Moon: $2,625 to purchase dance studio mirrors and install theatre curtains for dance studio space

ABADA Capoeira San Francisco: $3,500 to purchase and install a heating and cooling system, plus repair and refinish a wood floor

African American Shakespeare Company: $3,900 to improve their office's technological infrastructure.

Artship Foundation: $1,800 to upgrade and improve outdated computer equipment and install upgraded software.

ArtSpan/Open Studios of San Francisco: $2,600 to upgrade hardware and software and to retain a technology consultant

Asian American Women Artists Association: $1,750 to purchase computer equipment

BATS Improv: $2,500 to purchase new sideleg curtains for the stage to meet appropriate fire code regulations

Bindlestiff Studio: $3,500 to upgrade a lighting system and acquire sound equipment

Blue Bear School of Music: $2,900 to purchase office furniture and equipment

California Lawyers for the Arts: $3,500 to purchase computer equipment and software

Carnaval/Mission Neighborhood Centers: $3,000 to purchase two-way radios to enhance communications during public events

Central City Hospitality House: $3,275 to conduct a series of capital improvements to its Community Arts Program Studio

Chamber Music Partnership, Inc.: $1,100 to purchase new lighting equipment

Chrysalis Foundation: $2,400 to purchase recording equipment

Community Images c/o Photo Center: $1,800 to purchase a digital camera and frames

Community Music Center San Francisco: $2,200 to restore, repair and rewire four chandeliers in their 130-seat Mission District performance hall

Counterpulse: $3,750 to purchase a lighting board and accompanying cables and accessories for performance space

Dance Brigade: $3,750 to purchase a video projector and ancillary hardware

Dancers' Group: $2,000 to purchase computer equipment

Eureka Theatre Company: $2,825 to purchase sound equipment

Exit Theatre: $2,800 to purchase fire resistant stage curtains

Kearny Street Workshop: $3,000 to purchase lighting, sound and staging equipment for 180 Capp Street performance space

Khadra International Dance Theatre: $3,750 to upgrade an existing space with new fire retardant drapes, treat existing drapes; add a sound system

Levydance: $3,000 to purchase a variety of office and studio equipment

Magic Theatre: $3,400 to construct two firewalls

Margaret Jenkins Dance Company: $3,750 to purchase video equipment to document choreography and studio performance

The Marsh: $4,000 to purchase fireproof curtains and lighting equipment

Museum of Craft and Folk Art: $4,000 to purchase a new phone system

Ninth Street Independent Film Center: $4,000 to repair and replace leaking windows in the Ninth Street Media Arts facility

ODC Theatre: $3,750 to purchase production equipment and communications equipment for dance performance space

Presidio Performing Arts Foundation: $3,750 to purchase lighting equipment for shared performance space

QCC-the Center for LGBT Art & Culture: $3,000 to purchase professional design, editing, and video compression software as well as a video projector

Ruby's Clay Studio and Gallery: $4,000 to maintain and improve safety in their over-30-year old studio

San Francisco Cinematheque: $4,000 to purchase media equipment

San Francisco Girls Chorus: $3,500 to purchase a modern security system for shared facility at 44 Page Street

San Francisco Playhouse: $3,000 to purchase video projectors

Sixth Street Photography Workshop: $3,000 to purchase a digital camera and inkjet printer

Southern Exposure Gallery: $3,000 to replace equipment stolen from the gallery, upgrade software and acquire a new copy machine.

Young Performers Theater: $4,000 to improve safety and upgrade theater.

ZACCHO Dance Theatre: $1,500 to install wiring and related expenses for electrical upgrade of studio/workshop space

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