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“The arts are truly critical to our local economy and are an essential part of our long-term recovery. If we help the arts recover, the arts will help San Francisco recover. This new program is an innovative effort to help our creative sector get through this challenging time, and come back even stronger and more resilient than before.”–The Honorable Mayor London Breed

San Francisco’s arts and culture sector generated $1.45 billion in annual economic activity while supporting nearly 40,000 full-time jobs pre-COVID. Artists are the heartbeat of our cultural and civic life. While they have worked tirelessly over the last year, artists, cultural workers, and makers, particularly those from historically marginalized communities, have faced the most disparaging financial impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These impacts are unsustainable, so we at YBCA are stepping up to build structures of economic support for our artists, our city, our people.

To support artists living and working in the City of San Francisco during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, The Office of Racial Equity at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Arts Impact Endowment—co-funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) and Grants for the Arts—and YBCA have come together to launch the Guaranteed Income Pilot for the City of San Francisco.

How the Pilot Works


Apply Online

Application opens March 25, 2021.

Apply by April 15, 2021 at 11:59pm PT.


Confirm Participation

Participants are notified if they have been
selected by April 20, 2021.

Those notified will need to confirm their
participation by May 4, 2021.

(All applicants will be notified of their application
status by May 11, 2021)


Getting Artists Paid

Confirmed participants will receive their first cash
payment on or by May 21, 2021

Subsequent payments will be made on the first Friday
of each month from June 2021 to October 2021 

Applications are now closed.

We know that artists are essential agents of social change: when they have access to adequate resources, they strengthen communities and improve community health and well-being outcomes. Over a period of six months, the Guaranteed Income Pilot will provide monthly payments of $1,000 to 130 eligible San Francisco artists. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements listed below in order to join the Pilot.

Who is Eligible?

You must be:

An adult (18 years of age or older) resident of San Francisco in an eligible zip code

An artist whose artistic practice is rooted in a historically marginalized community.
For this program, an artist is someone who actively engages with the community through music, dance,
creative writing, visual art, performance art, installation, photography, theater, or film.
Teaching artists, arts educators, and culturally-based craft workers and makers are also encouraged to apply.

Facing loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Income qualifying

Calculate this using the table below
For this program, an applicant is “income qualifying” if their household income falls under the qualifying income limit.

How many people, including yourself, relied on your income in 2020? (Household Income)Qualifying Income Limit*
*Determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Very Low Income limit for San Francisco

Pilot Dates

March 25 — Application opens

April 15 — Application closes

April 20 — Eligible applicants are notified they have been selected

May 4 — Deadline for selected applicants to confirm participation

May 11 — All applicants will be notified regarding the status of their application

May 21 — First cash payment

June 4 — Second cash payment

October 1 — Final cash payment

Though the Pilot is focused on all artists facing financial insecurity resulting from the pandemic, we are building a comprehensive and community-centered outreach strategy that ensures we reach those hardest hit, including our BIPOC, Immigrant, Disabled, and LGBTQ+ artist communities. This outreach strategy reflects San Francisco’s Cultural Equity Endowment Legislation and the Grantmakers in the Arts’ Racial Equity in Arts Funding Statement of Purpose.

Learnings from the Pilot will help us to understand how guaranteed income impacts artists’ ability to focus on creative output and reinvest in their communities. YBCA is proud to serve as the implementer for the first ever Guaranteed Income Pilot for artists and understands that this is only one step towards building a sustainable economic floor for the artists in our communities.


What is Guaranteed Income? 

Guaranteed income is an economic model that provides regular, unconditional cash payments to individuals or households. This type of program differs from other social safety net practices by providing a steady, predictable stream of cash to recipients to spend as they see fit without limitations. 

This particular Pilot, inspired by guaranteed income projects in action across the United States, provides unconditional disaster relief cash payments to artists experiencing financial insecurity due to the pandemic.

Building on YBCA’s commitment to artists as essential drivers of economic well-being, this Guaranteed Income Pilot joins a national movement powered by city officials, policymakers, community leaders, and activists seeking to provide economic stability for those in our communities living in financial precarity. YBCA’s Pilot will be the first guaranteed income project to focus solely on artists.

What are the eligible zip codes and how are they determined?

The eligible zip codes for this Pilot are: 94102, 94110, 94112, 94124, 94134, 94103, 94107, 94109, 94115, 94117, 94130, 94158, and 94108.

Eligible zip codes were determined by the city of San Francisco’s data on areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic (as determined by case count) and by input from San Francisco arts and culture organizations.

To understand more about the impacts of COVID-19 in San Francisco, head over to

How will applicants be selected? 

Following the close of the application window on April 15, 2021, 130 applicants who meet the eligibility criteria will be selected at random. 

If I am selected, how will I receive the cash payments?

You may choose to receive payments via either direct deposit or a prepaid debit card.

What if I’m unhoused or facing housing insecurity?

You can still apply! We encourage applications from artists living in San Francisco, including those who are unhoused. 

What is the timeline for payment?

If you are selected to participate, you can expect to receive the first payment on May 21, 2021. Second cash payment will be made on June 4th. Subsequent payments will be made on the first Friday of each month, until October 1, 2021. 

Will this affect my taxes or public benefits?

According to IRS guidelines, you are not required to report qualified disaster relief payments on your taxes. No 1099 form will be issued for this Pilot.

As for benefits, this question can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, as individual circumstances vary. We cannot guarantee that payments from this Pilot will not count toward benefits eligibility. We encourage you to speak with a benefits counselor if you have questions about your specific situation.

Why is YBCA administering the Guaranteed Income Pilot?

YBCA has designed and implemented many grant, funding, and open call programs. Many of these programs have focused on funding models to invest in artists, organizations, and communities that have been underfunded, including BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. 

Over four years of our YBCA Fellows program, we have designed and implemented open calls and funded 240 Fellows, 70% of whom identify as people of color.

In April 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, YBCA developed a rapid response relief fund in collaboration with ZooLabs, Always Win Together, and Black Joy Parade. We awarded 345 grants, and 80% of grantees identified as BIPOC and 25% identified as LGBTQIA+. 

In October 2020, YBCA received a $250,000 grant to create the BIPOC artist-led Giving Circle, a form of participatory philanthropy where artists have complete ownership over the design of a pooled fund and collectively decide where to make grants and/or investments. 

Who is funding the Guaranteed Income Pilot?

This Pilot is made possible through a grant awarded to YBCA from the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Arts Impact Endowment, established through Proposition E, to provide funding for community-driven initiatives. The Arts Impact Endowment funds are administered through a community engagement plan and Cultural Service Allocation Plan jointly developed by SFAC and Grants for the Arts to ensure that initiatives are responsive to community needs and reflect equity priorities.

How does this Pilot reflect San Francisco’s commitment to equity?

The Pilot focuses on the needs of underrepresented artists who are financially vulnerable. This includes artists with low incomes, as well as Black, Indigenous, and all people of color (BIPOC), immigrant, LGTBQ+ artists and artists with disabilities, reflecting San Francisco’s Cultural Equity Endowment Legislation and the Grantmakers in the Arts’ Racial Equity in Arts Funding Statement of Purpose.

San Francisco is committed to confronting cultural inequities and to developing effective strategies to move all of us towards an equitable future. This Pilot is designed to reach artists deeply rooted in and reflective of historically marginalized communities.

Do you have any additional resources for artists and Bay Area residents who are affected by COVID-19?

Yes, we invite you to visit and select “I Want Relief Funds” where we regularly update information on relief funds available to artists.

For those who would like to speak with a financial coach, we encourage you to reach out to Smart Money Coaching. Smart Money Coaching is San Francisco’s free and confidential one-on-one financial coaching program. You can meet with a certified financial coach who will help address your financial challenges and goals and to help you navigate the emerging financial impacts of COVID-19. Call 877-256-0073 or go online to schedule a phone or video appointment. Translation services are available.


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