San Francisco to Hire Performing and Visual Artists for Public Health PSAs

San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

In the spirit of the New Deal, which hired artists for public works projects during the Great Depression, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a new program that will employ artists to amplify crucial public health reminders this holiday season.

With COVID-19 rates up city- and statewide, San Francisco will deploy 30 actors, musicians, dancers and other performing artists as Community Health Ambassadors to promote pandemic safety practices. An additional 30 visual artists will be hired to paint temporary public health-themed murals on boarded-up storefronts.

“This new program supports artists financially while also reminding community members to stay safe this holiday season,” Mayor Breed said in a statement. “San Francisco’s artists and cultural organizations are what make our city such a vibrant place, and we need to do all we can to support them. The Creative Corps is an innovate approach to help our artists during this difficult time, and will bring some joy and fun to public spaces throughout the City.”

The Creative Corps project has a budget of $250,000 from the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Local organizations Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) and Paint the Void will administer the program, and YBCA will collaborate with San Francisco Bay Area Theater Company, Dance Mission and SF Carnaval to select performing artists.

YBCA plans to train the Ambassadors to ensure messaging is accurate and consistent. But the artists will have flexibility in how they deliver public health reminders through their chosen form of expression in public places such as Shared Spaces corridors, streets with outdoor restaurants, parks, and other areas with high foot traffic.

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As far as murals go, Paint the Void will prioritize artists with strong ties to their chosen neighborhoods. An application for visual artists is now live.