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In High-Tech San Francisco, a Pilot Program Tries Guaranteed Incomes for Artists

Sunday January 23, 2022. 12:34 AM , from Slashdot
In 2015 the San Francisco Arts Commission surveyed nearly 600 local artists. 'More than 70% of them had either already left San Francisco or were about to be displaced from their work, home or both,' reports, adding 'The pandemic has only intensified these problems. A report by Americans for the Arts found that 53% of artists have no savings whatsoever as a result of the pandemic.'

Would it help to give over 100 artists their own Universal Basic Income?

In an effort to mitigate what appears to be an existential threat to the arts, in March 2021, the city of San Francisco partnered with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts [YBCA] to launch a guaranteed income pilot, called the SF Guaranteed Income Pilot for Artists, or SF-GIPA, that gives 130 local low-income artists who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic $1,000 a month, no strings attached, for 18 months.... At the time, YBCA was planning to launch its own guaranteed income project for artists, and this allowed it to combine forces and take both projects further. The first six months of funding for the SF-GIPA project came from the Arts Impact Endowment, which is funded by San Francisco's hotel tax and designated for underserved communities. YBCA extended the project by an additional 12 months with private funding from the Start Small Foundation, a philanthropic initiative by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey....

Though the additional income from SF-GIPA is a welcome relief, as the project moves past its halfway point, the question remains: Will 18 months be enough time to truly make a difference in these artists' lives? YBCA is currently scrambling to find a way to continue supporting guaranteed income recipients after the project's scheduled end in October 2023.... 'It's just so sad; people come to San Francisco because of the art and culture, but the art and culture makers can't afford to live here,' says Stephanie Imah, who is leading YBCA's pilot. 'This is very much a rental problem. It's really hard for artists living in San Francisco unless they work in tech. It's clear we need long-term solutions.' For YBCA, that means advocating for big policy changes down the line.

'Our eyes are on the federal government,' YBCA CEO Deborah Cullinan explains in an interview with Berkeley's Aurora Theatre. 'We'd like to see guaranteed income programs across the country for all people.' For now, the organization is focused on collecting 'university standard research' in order to make an irrefutable case for universal basic income as a viable long-term solution to poverty.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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