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STREET ARTISTS COMMITTEE
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
Members present: Commissioners Alexander Lloyd, José Cuellar, Sherene Melania
Members absent: none
Staff present: Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar
Commissioner Lloyd, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:00 p.m. and welcomed Commissioner Melania to the Committee. Commissioner Lloyd asked that the Program Director’s report be given.
- Street Artists Program Director’s Report
Additional street artist spaces on Port property. Street Artists Program Director Howard Lazar stated that, in keeping with the Committee’s directive of May 31, 2007, he had contacted Robert Davis, Executive Director of the Entertainment Commission, to request a meeting with him and Port personnel to discuss the possibility of spaces for street artists, as well as spaces for street performers, on Port property. Mr. Davis contacted the Port and told Mr. Lazar that Port personnel wished to wait until after budget season to discuss the issue.
Commissioner Lloyd offered to attend any such meeting on the issue with Mr. Lazar, who expressed appreciation for the Commissioner’s participation.
Street Artists Program and Immigrant Rights Summit. On another matter, the Program Director stated that he has served the Street Artists Program and the Arts Commission for thirty-five years and, as a grandson of immigrants, has felt grateful for being instrumental in bringing many people from different countries into the Street Artists Program and offering them an opportunity to sell what they make. Being in this position, he has often been allowed to pay homage to his ancestors for their efforts in establishing their lives in the United States. Recently, he received a letter from the office of the City Administrator stating that the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission, “whose mission is to improve, enhance and preserve the quality of life and civic participation of all immigrants in the City and County of San Francisco,” will be convening an Immigrant Rights Summit on September 15, 2007; its theme will be “Unity, Dignity and Opportunity for All Immigrant Communities in America.” As a program of a department, the Street Artists Program was invited to join the Summit and be listed as a participating organization on all Summit materials. Mr. Lazar confirmed with the Immigrant Rights Commission’s Executive Director that the Street Artists Program, with its sizeable population of immigrant licensees and applicants, qualified itself as a Summit participating organization. Mr. Lazar felt honored to represent an organization with a diversity of community.
The Commissioners expressed their appreciation of this achievement.
Commissioner Lloyd called for public comment.
Street Artist Mike Addario expressed frustration over having to wait so long for the Port to reply to the Arts Commission. He went on to say that on May 22, 2007, Katherine Arrow of the Port spoke to a few artists at Justin Herman Plaza about the possibility of expanding the artists’ booths into the Harry Bridges Park area. As the artists were enthusiastic about the idea, Mr. Addario e-mailed Ms. Arrow, who referred him to the Port’s Susan Reynolds, who said that the Port had been in discussions about the issue; but, at this point, the artists do not know the identities of the people involved in these discussions.
Mr. Addario stated that unlicensed vendors are still ever-present on Port property. The Port has not consented to the Arts Commission’s request for a meeting on this problem; and, in the meantime, the Port appears to be going ahead in implementing a street performers program. An informational presentation on this is on the Port Commission’s agenda of July 17, 2007. Time is of the essence, he said, to try to get the Port, if it is going to grant performers spaces, to grant additional street artist spaces as well.
Mr. Addario went on to state his concern over hearing about talks regarding the possible continuation of the F-line (to Beach Street and Fort Mason) and, he felt, the adverse impact on forty to fifty street artist spaces. This was another reason why Mr. Addario hoped that the Port would grant additional spaces on Port property.
- Hearing and possible motion to approve proposal to amend duties of the lottery helper (Arts Commission Lottery Committee to assign street artist spaces) who records lottery numbers on pulled blue (Wharf area) lottery slips to include the duty of announcing artists’ names and lottery numbers
Street Artist Bill Clark stated that the artists’ lottery implemented on the previous Saturday was typical of the present procedure. There were three lottery helpers and one Lottery Committee member who were assigned various tasks to verify that all pulled lottery slips and assigned spaces were recorded. However, what happens (currently) is that the artist who receives the last number in the previous day’s lottery has, in becoming a helper, first choice in what job function to take—there is no actual assigned function; it is a matter of choice. One person is actually the helper who just pulls the slips out of the bucket at random and then puts them in order. The second helper numbers the slips in their sequence. The slips are handed to the third helper, who records all the certificate numbers in the order they were pulled out of the bucket. But after the first helper pulls the slips out of the bucket, that helper returns to the lottery table to help the Lottery Committee member assign spaces. The second helper, as soon as he is finished, just leaves, and this results in the lottery relying on volunteers from the group of artists to read off the order of the names and numbers.
To remedy the situation, Mr. Clark was proposing that the second helper, as soon as he finishes numbering the blue slips, take on the job of reading aloud the remaining names and numbers. Otherwise, what would happen is that the volunteer who is calling out the names and numbers would cease to do so when obtaining his own number and would go to the lottery table, leaving the group of artists to figure out who should continue to call out the numbers. Furthermore, there would be no guarantee that anyone else would volunteer to do the job. Mr. Clark was attempting to present a simple solution: the person who is assigned the task of numbering the slips would, when finished, have the time to read aloud the remaining names and numbers.
Program Director Lazar asked Mr. Clark if he was proposing this duty for the helper of the Downtown Lottery as well as the helper of the Wharf Lottery. Mr. Clark replied in the affirmative and that it would be for any main lottery. He emphasized that the artists needed a guarantee that all the names and numbers would be announced in their order; otherwise, chaos could ensue.
Commissioner Lloyd asked if anyone was objecting to the proposal.
Program Director Lazar stated that he had forwarded to the Commissioners e-mails from various artists stating that their earlier issues with the proposal appeared to have been resolved by discussion with Mr. Clark and other artists.
Commissioner Lloyd called for public comment.
Street Artist Eddy Steneck said that he is usually the volunteer who calls out the numbers, that he does not mind doing so, and that there are several other artists who voluntarily do the task as well. However, he believes that it should be an assigned task, and Mr. Steneck voiced his support of the proposal. He added that there had been discussion among the artists about some artists who do not speak English very well, but it was realized that everyone in the Program knows how to say “eight dollars,” “ten dollars,” etc., that they know how to pronounce numbers in English. Therefore, if some artists would have a problem pronouncing names, Mr. Steneck said, they would have no problem announcing certificate numbers, as, for example, “twenty-four eighty-nine.”
Commissioner Lloyd stated that the proposal seemed reasonable and that it would make the lottery procedure smoother.
Commissioner Cuellar moved to approve amending the street artist space-assignment lottery procedure to require the lottery helper who records lottery numbers on pulled lottery slips to announce the artists’ names and lottery numbers; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Melania and unanimously approved.
- Hearing and possible motion to approve issuance, renewal, suspension, or revocation of certificate
Manuel Loli—Certificate #6040. Alleged violations: (1) Selling items not of the artist’s own creation (arrowheads, gourds with figures, ceramic boxes, hemp and bead jewelry, pipes, purses); (2) Selling items not certified by the Arts Commission. (Hearing continued from March 14, 2007 meeting)
(For the hearing, the Street Artists Program again retained the service of a Spanish-to-English translator, Ms. Lesley Walker of Auerbach International, who simultaneously interpreted the proceedings for Mr. Loli and interpreted his statements to the Commissioners.)
The Commissioners recalled that, at the last hearing with Mr. Loli on March 14, 2007, the Street Artists Committee had moved to deny renewal of Mr. Loli’s certificate and, pending decision of the Chair of the Committee, to continue the item to the Committee’s June meeting to hear Mr. Loli’s request for renewal.
Program Director Lazar stated that, with the Committee’s previous refusal to renew the certificate, Mr. Loli had not possessed a valid certificate for over four months (since February 3, 2007). The Program Director further reported that, in the period of time between the last hearing and the present, he had neither seen nor received reports of Mr. Loli selling on the streets.
Commissioner Lloyd called for comment from the Commissioners. No comments were offered. The Commissioner then called for public comment; none was forthcoming.
Commissioner Lloyd acknowledged that Mr. Loli had acted responsibly during the interim. The Commissioner moved that the certificate of Manuel Loli be renewed; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Cuellar and unanimously approved.
Through the interpreter, Mr. Loli stated that he wished to make a motion to the Arts Commission with regard to adjusting its procedures to allow him to have pre-approval for all items he would be creating because he was “constantly creating” his art.
Commissioner Lloyd thanked him for his comment.
- New business
Street Artist Mike Addario stated that, relative to the request for street artist spaces and other issues on Port property, he wanted the Arts Commission to approach the Port to see if the issues could be brought to closure. Now that summer was approaching, additional spaces on Port property would be highly valued by the artists, especially since the long-time Beach Street spaces were not as lucrative as before. It was, he said, frustrating to see Beach Street not so profitable while people who were unlicensed—that is, without street artist certificates, business tax certificates, and state seller’s permits—were selling day and night on Port property and actually profiting from the patrons of Pier 39. He went on to say that the letter requesting spaces sent by former Arts Commission Director of Cultural Affairs Newirth to Port Executive Director Moyer never made it to a Port Commission meeting. Mr. Addario asked that the Arts Commissioners consider re-issuing the letter and sending it directly to each of the Port Commissioners.
Commissioner Lloyd stated that the letter was intended to reach the Port Commissioners and that he would be glad to offer his help in this matter.
Program Director Lazar stated that it appeared that the letter, rather than going to the Port Commissioners, had been delegated to the Port’s Susan Reynolds, who then sent an e-mail response which did not address the issue of street artist spaces.
Commissioner Lloyd asked that Mr. Lazar work with him on drafting a letter to the Port Commissioners.
There being neither further new business nor further public comment, Commissioner Lloyd adjourned the meeting at 3:29 p.m.
Street Artists Program Director