A street art mural in San Francisco, which comments on economic inequality, police bias, and the housing crisis in the city. (via Dale Cruse/Flickr)

San Francisco will extend and expand its recently launched Guaranteed Income Pilot for artists, which provides monthly payments of $1,000 to local artists, thanks to a $3.46 million donation from tech entrepreneur Jack Dorsey.

Launched in March, the Guaranteed Income Pilot was set to provide recurring payments over a period of six months to 130 San Franciscan artists. The pilot program was conceived and supported by the Office of Racial Equity at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the city’s Arts Impact Endowment, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), which also administers the grants.

Dorsey’s two successful companies, Twitter and Square, are both headquartered in San Francisco. In April last year, the tech billionaire announced that he would pledge $1 billion, which amount to about one-third of his fortune, to COVID-19 relief and other social causes via his #StartSmall foundation.

Now, as city funds for the Guaranteed Income Pilot are about to dry out, Dorsey’s foundation stepped in to help extend the program for another 12 months, until October 2022. The program will also add 50 more recipients to the pool of artists (they will receive monthly $1,000 payments for 18 months). Priority will be given to artists from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander, Disabled, immigrant, and LGBTQ++ communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds will also support research on the impacts of guaranteed income to artists, produced by YBCA in partnership with the University of Florida Center for Arts and Medicine. The quantitative study will track changes in economic security, wellbeing, health, and artistic capacity over time in both pilot participants and a control group of eligible non-participants.

According to the YBCA, this research “will inform advocacy efforts to advance economic security via unconditional cash transfers with a unique focus on artists.” This April, the organization also launched the “YBCA 10,” a cohort of 10 artists, mostly from the Bay Area, who received a year-long residency at the center to realize socially forward projects. Each of the artists received a grant of $50,000.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...