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Here’s how to get a $10K grant to make art in San Francisco’s parklets

Robert Brownstone dances with Lucy Mae, a friend’s baby, while Colm O’Riain and Wade Peterson perform in the parklet at Belle Cora in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco
Robert Brownstone dances with Lucy Mae, a friend’s baby, while Colm O’Riain and Wade Peterson perform in the parklet at Belle Cora in the North Beach neighborhood in San Francisco on Oct. 13, 2022. | Source: Magali Gauthier for The Standard

A San Francisco nonprofit is handing out at least 30 grants of up to $10,000 each for small businesses and organizations to bring arts, music and other cultural programs to parklets, sidewalks and other “shared spaces.”

SF New Deal, the nonprofit administering the program, plans to award the grants for purposes ranging from helping fund mural artists to paying musicians for live performances. 

One category of grants will be provided under the broad umbrella of “community vibrancy and cultural events,” which could be anything from small farmers’ markets to exercise classes to outdoor art galleries. 

Shared Spaces is a city program that allows businesses and other entites to use public space for specific purposes. While perhaps the most prominent example is commercial parklets for outdoor dining, the program also includes sidewalk tables and displays, publicly accessible parklets and roadway closures for monthly events. 

“Organizations that may have not engaged in Shared Spaces in the past can use this program to build a relationship with their neighbors who are permanent operators and come together to imagine what these places can be in the future,” said Jacob Bindman, co-founder and chief program officer for SF New Deal. The funds come from the city. 

Funding for the program is provided through a contract with the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Bindman said this represents the second phase of that contract. Initially, the organization was focused on helping educate operators about the new regulated system for parklets and walking them through the permitting process. 

The deadline for permanent Shared Spaces to be in compliance with city regulations has been extended from the end of March to Sept. 27 as city staffers review applications and address issues, said Anne Yalon of the Planning Department. Operators who did not submit a permit application by March 31 must remove their parklets and will be subject to fines if they fail to do so. 

The Transamerica tower looms over North Beach business parklets.
The Transamerica Pyramid looms over North Beach business parklets on May 12, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

The new arts initiative fits into city officials’ larger efforts to revitalize lagging commercial corridors and the city’s Downtown with arts and culture programming. Among the examples of these are events like the Bhangra & Beats Night Market and Undiscovered Creative Market from the nonprofit Kultivate Labs. 

Recently, a Downtown summer concert series was proposed by Another Planet Entertainment that would run for three years starting in 2024. However, permitting delays have created some headwinds for those plans.

SF New Deal is also at the center of another effort to revitalize Downtown. The nonprofit is managing the city’s Vacant to Vibrant program, which aims to link up landlords with entrepreneurs looking to test out their business models with pop-ups.  

The first round of applications for Vacant to Vibrant is closed, and SF New Deal is selecting tenants, with the goal of launching the program in September.. 

How To Apply

SF New Deal is casting a wide net for participants in its arts program. 

Applications are not limited to San Francisco residents, and projects can be located anywhere in the city. The funds can be used to expand and continue existing programming but cannot be used retroactively to fund old projects. 

Most types of Shared Spaces are eligible for the grants, including sidewalk spaces, commercial parklets and permitted spaces that temporarily close roadways. 

Proposed projects should take place between Aug. 1, 2023, and Jan. 1, 2024. Priority will be given to applications that are submitted prior to Aug. 1. 

Applications can be submitted online. Technical and language assistance in English, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin is available via phone at 415-480-1245 or at

Shared Spaces operators and artists can apply individually or in partnership for particular projects. SF New Deal is playing the role of matchmaker by linking up specific Shared Spaces operators with artists and cultural organizations that would be a good fit. 

“It’s great to see the number of stakeholders that are investing in the idea of creating these opportunities for relationship-building and envisioning Shared Spaces beyond just a single points of use,” said Jenais Zarlin, co-founder and chief impact officer at SF New Deal.

Kevin Truong can be reached at