San Francisco’s earliest art policies date back to the establishment of the Arts Commission under the 1932 San Francisco Charter. The Charter gave the Arts Commission jurisdiction over all of the art belonging to the City and charged the Agency with the preservation and care of artwork in the Civic Art Collection.
Years later in 1969, the Art Enrichment Ordinance was enacted to provide a guaranteed funding mechanism for the acquisition of artwork for new public facilities and civic spaces. The Ordinance ensures that two percent of the gross construction cost of civic buildings, transportation improvement projects, new parks, and other above-ground structures such as bridges, be allocated for public art. The Public Art Program is committed to promoting a diverse and stimulating cultural environment in order to enrich the lives of the City’s residents, visitors and employees.
The Civic Art Collection is comprised of over 4,000 objects that include: historic monuments, memorials, gifts to the city, annual art festival purchases made from 1946 to 1986 and more recently, the hundreds of contemporary artworks commissioned through the City’s Public Art Program. Valued in excess of $90 million dollars, this extremely diverse collection represents many significant art movements executed by artists of national and international renown and includes the work of generations of San Francisco artists. Consistent with the Commission’s mission to integrate artwork into the fabric of daily life in the City, the artwork is found in public facilities and spaces of every description such as hospitals, libraries, courthouses, parks, playgrounds, libraries, along the waterfront, in major plazas such as Union Square, Moscone Convention Center, the airport and the zoo.
An ongoing and ever important goal of the Arts Commission is to procure funds to protect and preserve the many artworks under its jurisdiction. Over the years, our formidable Civic Art Collection has aged and now requires a more aggressive schedule of care. Established in 2010, ArtCare is a partnership between the San Francisco Arts Commission and the San Francisco Art Dealers Association that is committed to the conservation and maintenance of artworks that are among the City’s invaluable cultural assets. ArtCare was conceived as a way to build a bridge between local government and the private sector to begin to send a message to all San Franciscans that everyone can make a difference by caring for our monuments and sculptures. Click here to learn more about ArtCare on Culture Wire.
The Public Art Program and Civic Art Collection are administered by the San Francisco Arts Commission and overseen by the Commission’s Visual Arts Committee, which meets at 3 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month in the Arts Commission conference room, 401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 125.