Friday, October 7, 2011

San Francisco...Mayor Lee proclaims "Grants for the Arts Day"! Hotel tax sponsors live performances!

Wedding parties were politely shooed off the steps of the exquisite Rotunda at City Hall temporarily, Mayor Lee strode into the foyer beaming, and - with a smidgen of pomp and circumstance - October 7th was officially declared "Grants for the Arts Day" by proclamation!

For good reason!

The big brass at City Hall were celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the "Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Fund".

To mark the occasion, Officials tossed a soiree which featured live performances from a handful of dance troupes participating in the altruistic program.

Theatre Flamenco, Patrick Makuakane's Hawaiian Dance Company Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu - and a special appearance by cast member of "Beach Blanket Babylon" - dazzled the audience and also underscored how far-reaching and diverse the arts grants program has been.

In fact, Mayor Lee was also inclined to boast that the Hotel "Tax" Fund was actually first established fifty years ago - at least two full years before Washington got wise about the need for arts funding (or bothered to and institute agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts).

"San Francisco has always been a pioneer," the Mayor underscored in so many words.

In addition to benefiting a myriad of fledgling groups in all areas of artistic expression, Lee also noted that the funds benefits extended to the business arena as well.

In sum, he noted that when a organization got the nod - and the coffers were filled - that the administrators often ended up hiring workers from the community.

"So, the hotel tax fund promotes jobs, too. It is an anchor in the community."

After the entertaining upbeat performances, guests were treated to finger foods (the crush at the serving tables signalled just how delectable the mouth-watering treats were!) and a nutritious selection of juices, soft drinks, and other bottled products (graciously sponsored by Hotels in the Bay area).

After today, I doubt I will grumble about my Hotel tax ever again, especially now that I have witnessed first-hand how the monies are spent.

"The Hotel industry had better wake up to the fact that San Francisco, without the rich flavoring of its cultural institutions, would only be a lovelier Des Moines," one astute observer quipped at a recent press junket.

Kary Schulman, director of the fund also noted for the record how far-reaching and worthwhile the grants are.

San Francisco's program is special because it funds not just large nonprofit arts institutions like the San Francisco Symphony, but mid-size, small and emerging ones as well, added Schulman.

Since its inception, the "Grants for the Arts Tax Fund" has distributed more than $300 million to hundreds of cultural organizations, in fact.


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