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STREET ARTISTS COMMITTEE
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
Members present: John Calloway, Topher Delaney, Sherene Melania
Members absent: Amy Chuang
(Commissioner Alexander Lloyd, Chair of the Street Artists Committee, had resigned from the Arts Commission.)
Staff present: Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar, Program Assistant Evelyn Russell
Commissioner Calloway chaired and called the meeting to order at 3:07 p.m.
1. Discussion. Street Artists Program Director’s Report.
Street artist spaces in “mini-plaza” at 17th/Castro/Market Streets. Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar reported that on July 13th, he presented at the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use Committee the Arts Commission’s request for eight (8) temporary street artist spaces in the recently created “mini-plaza” on 17th Street at Castro and Market Streets, and that the Land Use Committee approved the request as a recommendation to the full Board of Supervisors. (The full Board approved it as Resolution No. 302-09 on July 21st, and the resolution was signed by the Mayor on July 27th.)
Street artists in United Nations Plaza. In 1980 Bernard Averbuch, Executive Director of the Market Street Association, and Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar succeeded in obtaining Board of Supervisors designation of United Nations Plaza as an area in which fifty (50) street artists could sell their wares. Through the ensuing years, however, it was seldom used by the artists - until now. Street Artists Dana Boyko and Susan Koenig and Mr. Lazar met with the City’s Department of Real Estate and the directors of the Farmer’s Market to agree on an area of the Plaza in which the artists could sell on Wednesdays and Sundays when the Plaza is primarily inhabited by the Farmer’s Market. It was agreed that the artists would set up away from the farm vendors in an area alongsideMarket Street and east of an imaginary line drawn from the end of Leavenworth Street across the Plaza to Market Street. The venture was successfully inaugurated on Wednesday, August 26th, by Street Artists Susan Koenig and Lucinda Page.
Mr. Lazar further reported that the Department of Real Estate offered to include in its e-mailed newsletter to all City departments an announcement about the artists’ presence at the Plaza. The announcement, whose text will be drafted by Ms. Boyko, Ms. Page, and Mr. Lazar, will have photos of artists and their booths.
Commissioner Delaney asked Mr. Lazar to request Real Estate to include the announcement in several issues of its newsletter to help fully establish cognizance of the artists’ presence at UN Plaza.
Proposal for four (4) temporary street artist spaces on Hayes Street , near Octavia Street . Mr. Lazar presented the proposal at the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use Committee on July 13th, whereupon two artists and the president of the Hayes Valley Merchants Association were deadlocked in disagreement. Supervisor Maxwell, the Committee’s Chair, continued the item to a later meeting in order to allow time for negotiation of a possible compromise between the opposing parties. Both sides, however, refused to compromise. Nevertheless, Director of Cultural Affairs Luis Cancel and Mr. Lazar received a proposal from Hayes Street Merchants President Russell Pritchard to commence, the proposal stated, “a partnership” between the Arts Commission’s Street Artists Program and the Hayes Valley Merchants Association “to connect artists within the Street Artists Program with Hayes Valley merchants … to develop and institute a program of matching up artists and merchants” which “will provide another avenue for local artists to show and to sell their work.” Mr. Lazar stated that he would inform the Land Use Committee of the Hayes Valley Merchants Association’s proposal in lieu of a compromise on street artist spaces.
Commissioner Delaney stated that she felt the presence of street artists in a commercial area brings more business to the area.
Commissioner Melania asked Mr. Lazar if it was typical for a street artist proposal which meets opposition to be brought to the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Lazar responded that it was not typical, that he has traditionally submitted only proposals that have either received no opposition or have already met with a compromise.
Petition to change payment of certificate fee from payment for three-month certificate to payment for six-month certificate. The Program Director reported that he had received a petition from forty-seven street artists requesting that street artists be able to pay for a six-month certificate, rather than the current three-month certificate, and that the current option for a one-year certificate be retained. The petition stated that “Many new artists sign up for only 3 months then drop out. … Many new artists also come from other countries and from out of state. They typically work for three months then go back home. This does not add to our local or State economies and adversely effects the artists that live and work here all year around.” Mr. Lazar stated that he did not submit the petition for calendaring as a hearing because he wanted an opportunity to discuss it with the artists to get a sense of the rationale behind it. Furthermore, he had received comments from many artists vehemently opposed to the petition.
Mr. Lazar went on to say that if the matter were to result in a hearing and the Commissioners were to approve what the petition requested, the Arts Commission would have to ask the Board of Supervisors to submit to the voters an ordinance reflecting the request.
Street Artists Program Director hearings on alleged violations. On September 2nd, Mr. Lazar acted as a hearing officer on alleged violations of the street artists ordinance by four street artists. He had denied renewal of the artists’ certificates pending the outcome of their hearings.
Presentation of ballot materials for election of Liaison Committee. Mr. Lazar presented drafts of documents created by Director of Cultural Affairs Cancel and Mr. Lazar relating to the upcoming voting procedure for the street artists’ Liaison Committee. The drafts were of a candidates’ sign-up sheet, an official ballot, and a ballot envelope.
Commissioner Calloway reviewed the requirements for candidates and then called for public comment on the Program Director’s report.
Street Artist William Clark stated that he understood that the Program Director, in his hearings on alleged violations, had found two artists in violation of the street artists ordinance, had issued them warnings, and had allowed them to sign papers promising to abide by all the rules and regulations. Mr. Clark objected to this by stating that, according to the Program’s rulebook, violations were separated into two parts – serious violations and minor violations – and that the two individuals who had been found guilty had committed serious violations which would warrant suspensions of their certificates and not a warning after signing a paper. The Program Director’s findings, he said, should have come to the Street Artists Committee for hearings on the violations. Mr. Clark went on to name the artist who had been found guilty of selling items not of her own creation and also of having a salesperson, each violation, Mr. Clark said, requiring an automatic two-month suspension. He then named the artist who had been found guilty of selling in a location no longer designated by the Board of Supervisors, which, he said, should merit a two-week suspension. He wanted to see these individuals brought before the Street Artists Committee for hearings on the charges.
2. Discussion. Street Artists Ad Hoc Liaison Committee’s Report.
No report was forthcoming.
Street Artist Virginia Travers stated that she was one of the founders of the present ad hoc “Steering Committee” (Liaison Committee), and that the committee had not been meeting.
3. Discussion. New Business/Public Comment.
Street Artist Michael Addario referred to a January 14th budget discussion in which, he said, it had been stated that money had been stolen from the office and “we were not told about it,” and that, with Commissioner Lloyd’s urging, the Arts Commission had voted to ask for a financial review of the Street Artists Program. But the letter to the Controller was not written by the Program Director until June 10th and, Mr. Addario said, was not received by the Controller until June 15th. Then, on August 20th, the Controller denied the request by stating that it was not a priority.
Mr. Addario went on to say that one of the items he received from the Controller’s office showed that, in the Program’s account, there is, he said, a “programmatic project” which lists $150,000 and which, he said, no one can explain. According to Mr. Addario, the Controller’s office said it was an accumulation of money over a period of time, and, he said, the Arts Commission’s financial director would not answer his questions. Mr. Addario stated that he felt there was something wrong and that he saw delay tactics. He asked the Commissioners to “demand” a financial review of the Program as well as a performance review of both Mr. Lazar and Evelyn Russell (the Program’s Assistant).
There being no further public comment, Commissioner Calloway adjourned the meeting at 3:35 p.m.
Street Artists Program Director
September 29, 2009