Kids across San Francisco are holding empty beach pails, still sniffling from the news that Saturday's sandcastle contest at Ocean Beach has been postponed. The We Players theater group is scrambling to find a new venue for their Fort Point staging of Macbeth. SFMOMA had to cancel public tours of its Crissy Field sculpture exhibit, and visitors to the Headlands Center for the Arts are confused. The government shutdown might seem like fodder for water cooler jokes until you realize it hurts San Francisco organizations that work on shoestring budgets to bring arts to the community.
Leap, an organization that provides arts education for local students, hosts an annual sand castle contest that funds 40 percent of the organization's budget and involves thousands of people. The contest teams up elementary school students, architects and engineers. Leap executive director Julie McDonald, who's spent over a year planning and securing permits, reports, "We've spent the entire day on the phone with 26 disappointed schools and kids. That's the part that hurts the most -- hearing how sad the kids are."
San Francisco isn't the only city whose youth is suffering due to the shutdown, as evidenced by "the absolute saddest shutdown photo you will see," which went viral yesterday. The sand castle contest will be rescheduled, but the impact on this community-based organization is significant and could affect the volume of its programming. Leap's permit was issued after the shutdown took effect, so it seemed like they could proceed, but three days before the contest, McDonald says, "We were told that we could be fined for trespassing and that our permit was no longer valid."
At Crissy Field, all public tours of Mark di Suvero's sculptures have been cancelled. SFMOMA education curator Julie Charles explains, "We are hopeful that we can soon resume these tours because they are a wonderful way to get people talking about the connections between di Suvero's sculptures and the site, which holds particular significance for the artist, who immigrated to San Francisco from Shanghai as a young boy." The monumental steel-beam sculptures seem to draw an extra resonance from their juxtaposition with the Golden Gate Bridge.
Headlands Center for the Arts was allowed to remain open, but the park it lives in is closed. Seair Lorentz, communications and outreach manager at the center, says the situation has led to "general confusion from our constituencies."