San Francisco Arts Commission

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San Francisco Arts Commission
Agency overview
Formed1932; 87 years ago (1932)
JurisdictionCity and County of San Francisco
Headquarters401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 325, San Francisco, CA 94102
Agency executives
  • Tom DeCaigny, Director of Cultural Affairs
  • JD Beltran, President

The San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) is the official San Francisco County, USA arts council.

The San Francisco Arts Commission was established in 1932. It is a city agency and the commission is appointed by the mayor. The Board of Supervisors must approve its budget.[1]

San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery[edit]

The San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery is the contemporary art exhibitions program of the Commission. There are three locations for the gallery, with the main gallery located in the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center at 401 Van Ness Avenue, in the heart of San Francisco's Civic Center. The other locations are a storefront art gallery at 155 Grove Street, across from City Hall and Art at City Hall.

Founded in 1970, the Gallery commissions new works, collaborates with arts and community organizations and supports artist's projects. Admission to the gallery is free.

Other programs and functions[edit]

The art commission has many functions and sponsors many programs.[2] One of its functions is to approve the design of any buildings built by the city. It oversees the selection of "art enrichment" in the forms of graphics, murals and sculpture for civic buildings and spaces.[1]

The commission oversees the city-owned cultural centers - among them the historic Bayview Opera House, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and the African American Art and Culture Complex. The commission funds arts programs for elders, homeless people in the Tenderloin and kids at risk, as well as the Filipino community's Parol Lantern Festival and other street festivals and events across town.[3]

The Community Arts and Education Program supports programs that enrich the fabric of the communities of neighborhood life, giving opportunities for creative and artistic expression for all people. This egalitarian spirit carries on the values of the people who started the program in 1967 of "nurturing the arts for and by the people where they live and work."[3]

Other Arts Commission programs are an annual city art festival and a pops concert series. The commission's Writer's Corps brings writers into public schools.[2]

The Arts Commission maintains a database of public art on its website Public Art Projects List | Public Art & Civic Art Collection


The San Francisco Art Commission's Community Arts and Education Program is an offshoot of the Commission's Neighborhood Arts Program, which supported grassroots community arts programs. It was a national trailblazer in nurturing art in places outside the circles of high culture. The program expanded under the direction of Stephen Goldstine. It was during his tenure, from 1970 to '78, that the program tapped into federal money to help fund local artists. An intern named John Kreidler, who had worked in Washington and would later head the philanthropic San Francisco Foundation, hit on the idea of using federal grants from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, or CETA, to employ a slew of local performers, muralists, musicians, poets, gardeners and other artists to work in schools, community centers, prisons and wherever their skills and services were of value to the community. Inspired by the Works Progress Administration's employment of artists in the service to the community in the 1930s, this program was so successful that it became a model for similar programs throughout the US.[4]


  1. ^ a b Newsome, Barbara Y.; Adele Z. Silver (1978). The Art Museum as Educator: A Collection of Studies as Guides to Practice and Policy. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03248-4.
  2. ^ a b "About SFAC". San Francisco Arts Commission. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b Hamlin, Jesse (April 21, 2008). "S.F. Neighborhood Arts: 40 years of art for all". San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. ^ Hamlin, Jesse; Writer, Chronicle Staff (April 21, 2008). "S.F. Neighborhood Arts: 40 years of art for all". SFGate.

Further reading[edit]

  • Wels, Susan (2013). San Francisco: Arts for the City: Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932-2012. Heyday Books. ISBN 978-1-59714-206-9.

External links[edit]