Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Receives $3.46M in Funding from Jack Dorsey’s #StartSmall to Expand Guaranteed Income Pilot for San Francisco Artists

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Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) has received $3.46M from #StartSmall, Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s philanthropic initiative, to expand upon San Francisco’s guaranteed income pilot and provide artists with further financial support, with a focus on Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander, Disabled, immigrant and LGBTQ++ artists who have been among some of the hardest hit communities from the pandemic. The extension of this vital program provides an unparalleled opportunity to deepen the learnings around guaranteed income for artists and to continue YBCA’s commitment to supporting artists who have been historically marginalized and most impacted by COVID-19.

On March 25, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed announced the launch of The Guaranteed Income Pilot for the City and County of San Francisco. As part of San Francisco’s economic recovery and efforts to support the arts, the City-funded cash relief program was created to support artists living and working in San Francisco who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pilot program is supported by the Office of Racial Equity at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Arts Impact Endowment—co-administered by the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) and Grants for the Arts—and YBCA, who serves as the implementer of the pilot. The original pilot is providing 130 artists living and working in San Francisco with $1,000 per month for a period of six months beginning today, May 21. The Guaranteed Income for Artists program is one of several guaranteed income programs that the City is piloting.

This generous grant from #StartSmall will allow YBCA to continue the pilot beyond the initial six months and provide more artists with much-needed financial support. Thanks to the additional funding, the original 130 participants of the pilot will receive extended monthly payments of $1,000 for another twelve months from October 1, 2021 to October 1, 2022. Second, the funding will also go towards a new collaboration between YBCA and five high impact, historically underfunded San Francisco arts and culture organizations to select at least an additional 50 artists—10 from each organization—to also receive monthly payments of $1,000 a month for 18 months. This element of the expanded pilot will support leading San Francisco organizations and their core artist communities.

The expansion of the Guaranteed Income Pilot will also support further resources and data for an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved study on the impacts of guaranteed income that will be produced by YBCA in partnership with the University of Florida Center for Arts and Medicine. This 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. This research will inform advocacy efforts to advance economic security via unconditional cash transfers with a unique focus on artists as well as allow YBCA to continue contributing to the growing guaranteed income field and share best design, research, and implementation practices, helping others to initiate similar programs.

“This investment from #StartSmall reinforces YBCA’s commitment to advancing new economic models that address systemic racism and inequity and historic financial instability in the arts sector,” said Deborah Cullinan, CEO of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. “The ability to extend and expand this program means we can provide guaranteed income to more artists and we can work with leading arts and culture organizations to build our collective capacity. The learnings from this expanded pilot will ensure that we can pave the way for local, state and national policies and models that are equitable and resilient.”

“San Francisco’s innovative program to support artists is now underway, providing 130 artists with monthly payments that they can use to cover their expenses and focus on their work,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “The arts are critical to our local economy and are an essential part of our long-term recovery. With this generous support, these artists will have guaranteed income for another year, and even more San Francisco artists will be able to participate. As we recover as a city and continue to create programs that support our residents, we’re looking forward to taking the lessons we learn from this pilot to inform other guaranteed income programs in our City.”


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) is San Francisco’s center for art and progress.Opened to the public in 1993, YBCA was founded as the cultural anchor of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood. Our work spans the realms of contemporary art, performance, film, civic engagement, and public life. By centering artists as essential to social and cultural movement, YBCA is reimagining the role an arts institution can play in the community it serves. Our mission is to generate culture that moves people.


#StartSmall is Jack Dorsey’s philanthropic initiative to fund global COVID-19 relief, girls health and education, and efforts towards Universal Basic Income. Dorsey transferred $1 billion (28% of his wealth) to #StartSmall in 2020.

Media Contacts:

YBCA: Valerie Brown | (415) 515-4975 |

Brunswick Group: Liza Eliano | (646) 894-1574 |

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