City and County of San FranciscoSan Francisco Arts Commission

January 15, 2002

4:00 p.m.

25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70

Explanatory documents are available for public inspection and copying at the Arts Commission office, 25 Van Ness Ave, ste 240, during regular business hours.

Commissioners Present:
Stanlee Gatti, Denise Roth, Andrea Cochran, Janice Mirikitani

Staff Present:
Nancy Gonchar, Jewelle Gomez, Jenny Louie, Howard Lazar


Commissioner Guggenhiem called the Meeting to order at 4:15 p.m.



  1. Discussion and possible motion to approve funding for ArtHouse as follows:

    July 2001 to December 2001, $15,000.
    January 2002 to December 2002, $20,000.

    Ms. Gomez noted that the issue of SFAC's relationship to ArtHouse has been discussed at length in previous Executive Committee meetings. The question remains at what level the Cultural Equity Program should support an organization that 1) is receiving funds non-competitvely and 2) has reduced its activities. She noted the funds given to ArtHouse are all for administrative costs. She informed the Executive Committee that this issue was also discussed at the ArtHouse advisory board meeting, where it was agreed that a schedule of reduced funding was appropriate. The proposal, which comes after discussions with Eleanor Johns from the Mayor's office, would be to complete funding for 2001 at the current rate and to begin the decrease in funding in 2002.

    President Gatti said everyone felt good about this proposal because it is a compromise and is a more moderate cut than was originally proposed. Commissioner Roth agreed, but noted that she would like to see an end to noncompetitive grants. Ms. Gomez agreed that it was inappropriate to have a noncompetitive grant of this size.

    President Gatti asked if there was any public comment. Ms. Sal Woelfel of ArtHouse noted that Alma Robinson of California Lawyers for the Arts could not make it to the meeting. She described some increases in demand for services -- working with Nomad, a group of displaced theater groups, becoming the fiscal sponsor for Soundspace, a group of evicted musicians. ArtHouse also presented a seminar with Exit Theater on financing arts facilities, which was attended by 72 people. She also informed the Commissioners that ArtHouse had received a $53,000 grant from the NEA for a feasibility study to determine if it should function as a 501c3 on its own. Margie O'Driscoll will be conducting the study. Ms. Woelful thanked the Commission for the support of ArtHouse.

    Moved: Commissioner Roth
    Second: Commissioner Mirikitani
    Motion: Unanimous

  2. Discussion and possible motion to approve request by Street Artist Program Director to propose an ordinance to increase the street artist certificate fee to $93.40 per quarter or $373.60 per year.

    Mr. Lazar explained that there has been, over the last 10 years, a surplus in funds due to an elimination of a position, however, this surplus has been diminishing and will be depleted in the next few years. There has not been an increase in the street artist fees for 11 years and the one proposed will be less than $6 a quarter. He felt that making modest and gradual increases now is better than waiting until the surplus is gone and imposing a $100 increase. If this is approved by the Board of Supervisors and it appears that the savings are building, the fees may not be raised further.

    President Gatti felt that it was a great idea and that the amount was not unreasonable. He felt that this increase would have minimal effect on the street artists and that it should be instituted as soon as possible. Mr. Lazar noted that the fees would not be effective until July 1 2002, if passed.

    President Gatti wanted to know if the street artists were notified. Mr. Lazar said he had introduced the idea in November and that there have been two street artists meetings to discuss this.

    Moved: Commissioner Roth
    Second: Commissioner Mirikitani
    Vote: Unanimous

  3. Motion to approve the Fiscal Year 2002-03 Street Artists and Cultural Equity Grants program budgets.

    Ms. Gonchar introduced Kieu-Anh King, the new budget analyst from the Mayor's Office who would be the new liaison for the Arts Commission. She noted that the Street Artists Program is projecting revenue decreases, but stable costs. Otherwise, there are no significant changes.

    She stated that the hotel tax is not doing well and 12% of CEG's original budget has been put on reserve. Ms. Gomez noted that the only cost changes are in salary. She also noted that she's not reduced the support for individual artists because it is usually the first area to be cut and because there are so few places where individual artists can get funding. This can be accomplished because CEG is no longer putting away a portion of its budget into a loan fund.

    Commissioner Roth wanted to know what would happen if the economy didn't improve. President Gatti hoped that things would be more steady and that there wouldn't be any more cuts.

    Moved: Commissioner Mirikitani
    Second: Commissioner Roth
    Vote: Unanimous

  4. Motion to approve the Fiscal Year 2002-03 General Fund Budget.

    Ms. Gonchar introduced SFAC's lead accountant, Kan Htun who had prepared much of the budget. The Mayor's office expects a $175 million deficit this year and city departments were told to cover all the costs of living increases in salaries, which total $55,727 (though this figure may be revised by the Mayor's Office). The general fund supports nine positions and some administrative costs, rent, postage, utilities, etc. Ms. Gonchar noted that there was no attrition in the staff, making it almost impossible to project any salary savings. Two positions were already lost during the Jordan administration. Programs will need to cover more administrative overhead. She also noted that the Cultural Centers are receiving similar messages.

    Commissioner Roth wondered what the Commission's commitment to the Cultural Centers was, since they are expecting a 12% decrease in their budget. Is there an obligation to keep them open? Could they remain dark for a few days a week? The consensus was that closing the Centers for any period at this time was not a workable solution.
    Commissioner Gatti wanted to discuss the general fund some more. At this time, the Commission is asked to cover $55,727 of their costs. For most other agencies, such as Parking and Traffic, this amount is relatively small. However, the Arts Commissions works closely with the communities of San Francisco and our programs mean a lot. With a budget as small as SFAC's, $55,727 means a lot and requires a lot of shifting for the programs to take on this cost. A decrease is difficult to manage. But it seems minimal in the bigger picture of the City budget. If DPW's budget is cut, it would mean cutting a project that primarily deals with landscape. SFAC, however, deals with people and their livelihood and it is a more immediate situation. He also felt that the conversation needed to go further than just the $55,727 decrease and should be an overall review of the policy of making across the board cuts rather than proportional reductions.

    Mr. King agreed that it was a difficult position to be in, however, there is still a 25% decrease that the city will need to absorb in some way.

    President Gatti noted that SFAC is not reaping many benefits from the general fund in comparison to other city agencies. Additionally, other organizations have ways of raising money. SFAC cannot replace this money in any other way. Ultimately programs will need to be cut. Closing the Centers a few days a week can be catastrophic for the neighborhood and the centers themselves.

    Mr. King said he would work with Ms. Gonchar to examine SFAC's service level impacts. He felt that this information will be important in considering cuts for departments.

    Ms. Gonchar also provided some possible "worse case scenario" budgets which considered a 10% cut of $105,396, as requested by the Mayor's Office. These budget scenarios include reducing staff hours and decreasing CEG and CAE budgets or eliminating positions from the general fund which would further seriously impact programs such as WritersCorps and the Gallery. She said there needs to be a way to cut expenses, by reducing hours or staff. She added that these budget scenarios needed to be discussed with Richard Newirth.

    Ms. Gonchar wondered what would happen with respect to unions if staff salaries were reduced. Mr. King said that this issue would need to be taken up with Todd Rydstrom, the new revenue manager in the Controller's Office. He also noted that the property tax hasn't been hit as hard at others, so the general fund may not be as negatively impacted. He added that there will be an opportunity to revise the proposed budget 10% reduction scenarios submitted in February.

    Commissioner Mirikitani also noted foundations are cutting back to essential services. SFACs budgets become more important if it is the only arts funding source in San Francisco. This is an issue that should be considered in the future.

    Ms. Gonchar informed the Commissioners that the Board of Supervisors are more interested in the budgets and have asked for them 2 months earlier than usual and because the supervisors now represent districts the budget considerations will be more political than in the past.

    Moved: Commissioner Mirikitani
    Second: Commissioner Roth
    Vote: Unanimous

  5. Discussion of the impact of the loss of carry forward funds for CEG from the Hotel Tax and discussion of the implications for the future should the hotel tax receipts continue to decline.

    Ms. Gonchar explained that there are different types of funds in the City budget, some that carry forward and some that don't. The hotel tax funds are supposed to be continuing funds. In FYI, $750,000 was requested to be carried forward and only $200,000 was approved by the Mayor's Office. There was a contradiction in the legislation that initially described CEG funds as continuing and a later revision in the legislation removed CEG funds from the carryforward list. The Mayor's office agreed to return the funds after CEG had provided evidence that there were grants totaling over $500,000 still needed to be paid out.

    Commissioner Roth asked if the legislation needed further revision.

    Ms. Gonchar said there has already been a change made in the accounting system by the Controllers Office that should solve this problem in the future.

  6. Review and approve the addition of individuals, Pamela Samaneigo, Melissa Szeto, Melody Takata and Michael Tekulsky to the Cultural Equity Grants panel pool.

    Moved: Commissioner Mirikitani
    Second: Commissioner Roth
    Vote: Unanimous

  7. CEG Program Director's report.

    No comments were made.

The meeting adjourned at 5:20 p.m.


Submitted by Jenny Louie, Cultural Equity Grants Program Operations Associate.
Approved by Richard Newirth, Director of Cultural Affairs

January 30, 2002


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