SAN FRANCISCO (BCN/CBS SF) — In an effort to spur San Francisco’s economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, city leaders on Monday announced more than $12 million in grants to support in-person community parades and festivals.

The funding is part of the Grants for the Arts program, a citywide initiative that provides funding to some 250 local arts organizations annually, including those organizing and participating in parades and festivals.

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“We know that the pandemic has been hard on all of us, but it has been especially difficult for our city’s artists and cultural organizations,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

“The arts are part of what makes San Francisco so special and create an inclusive atmosphere for all who live in and visit our city. During this critical time in our economic recovery, we need to do everything we can to bring back our community festivals that are loved by so many, and support those who contribute to our city’s vibrant culture,” she said.

“Cultural festivals and arts have always been an essential part of San Francisco’s vibrant community. They draw people to San Francisco, bring communities together, and in many ways, define our experiences here,” said City Administrator Carmen Chu, who manages the program. “Supporting our arts organizations during these challenging times is key to our city’s recovery.”

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According to Breed’s office, this year’s GFTA sought to fund arts organizations that directly serve diverse populations within the city like LGBTQ and BIPOC communities.

“Having art and cultural events around every corner in the city is why people live here and it’s why people from all over the world visit San Francisco. Art and culture is the soul of San Francisco,” San Francisco Director of Grants for the Arts and former supervisor Vallie Brown said. “As San Francisco slowly comes out of our long COVID nap, it’s vital that we support our arts organizations and our community’s parades and festivals.”

The GFTA program is funded by 2018’s Proposition E, which uses hotel tax revenue to fund the arts. However, because hotel revenue took a nosedive at the start of the pandemic, Breed allocated funding from the city’s general fund to backfill impacts to this year’s budget cycle, Breed’s office said.

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