GRANTS FOR THE ARTS – 50th Anniversary, A Free Celebration At City Hall

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

A free, noontime public performance by some of San Francisco’s most innovative, fun and entertaining performing artists will mark the 50th anniversary of the City’s Grants for the Arts program of the Hotel Tax Fund, which uses tourism tax dollars to promote San Francisco as a top visitor destination, boosts local economy and enhances quality of life. The performance will feature Theatre Flamenco, Patrick Makuakane’s Hawaiian dance company Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu and a special appearance by members of the cast of Beach Blanket Babylon at Noon, Friday, October 7th, in City Hall Rotunda. The performance is part of the ongoing Rotunda Dance Series, jointly presented by Dancers’ Group and World Arts West. The performance will be followed by a free public reception in the North Light Court with food and beverages contributed by San Francisco hotels in celebration of the role arts and culture play in making the City immensely popular with visitors from around the world.

Rotunda Dance Series. Photo, Ezra Ekman

Linking Arts and Tourism for Half a Century
“It is wonderful to celebrate 50 years of a successful partnership between San Francisco’s No. 1 industry, tourism, and our arts and cultural community” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association. “Not only was San Francisco the first to reserve funds from the hotel tax to support the arts but also a pioneer two decades ago when it helped us fund a dedicated arts and culture director within our organization who was focused on promoting the arts to the visitors of San Francisco and strengthening that vital connection between group travel professionals and meeting planners. This program continues to serve as a model for making our destination truly ‘all about the arts’ and creating economic growth that benefits our Grants for the Arts beneficiaries and all the businesses they touch -from the corner café that caters to the pre-performance crowd to the hotelier who sees an increase in room nights when a special event occurs. Congratulations to Grants for the Arts for half a century of leadership and vision!”

Joseph D’Alessandro

About Grants for the Arts
For 50 years, Grants for the Arts of the San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA) has fostered beneficial relationships between the City’s many renowned arts organizations, tourism and local business resulting in positive impacts on San Francisco’s visibility and ranking as a top international visitor destination while immeasurably enhancing the cultural life of residents.

The 50th anniversary of GFTA’s founding as part of the San Francisco City Charter is an opportunity to reflect on the impacts the tourist tax dollars it distributes to generate positive visibility for San Francisco have made on our cultural arts organizations, quality of life and business income.

Founded in 1961, Grants for the Arts is the first municipal arts funding agency to support private nonprofit organizations-it pre-dates the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). San Francisco is the largest per capita government arts funder in the United States of private nonprofit arts organizations having no formal city affiliation. This funding is tied directly to the fact that year after year, visitor surveys show that arts and culture rank as top reasons tourists come to the City.

The premise has been a proven success for half a century: a portion of Hotel Tax revenue is granted to arts organizations that attract visitors, and this small but important and dependable subsidy (under 15% of organizations’ budgets) leverages visitor spending in hotels, restaurants, retail, etc. At the same time this funding makes extraordinary and varied arts experiences available to San Franciscans at no direct cost to residents while generating local jobs.


Theatre Flamenco of San Francisco is the second oldest dance company in the Bay Area (after the SF Ballet). Founded in 1966 by Adela Clara, Theatre Flamenco was conceived during a flowering of cultural pride in the 60′s that led to the revival of Latino arts; the Company’s purpose was to fill what was then a dearth of Spanish dances in the Bay Area. Theatre Flamenco was the first American dance company to stage full productions of Spanish dance in the U.S., and is one of the oldest dance companies in California. Every year since its inception Theatre Flamenco has presented a home season of performances in San Francisco. Over the years, Theatre Flamenco has served as a beacon of cultural pride, a reservoir for the diverse traditions of Spanish culture, and a vital source for artistic collaboration. The Company is dedicated to the research, presentation and education of a full range of Spanish dance including classical, neo-classical, regional, folk and escuela bolera.

Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu. Photo, Nina Wu

Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu is a hālau hula, or hula school, based in San Francisco. Led by Director/Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne, the hālau features a dance company of 40 performers and offers Hawaiian dance classes at the beginning and intermediate levels. Founded in 1985, the hālau’s mission is to preserve the Hawaiian culture through hula.

Nā Lei Hulu’s dance company has performed nationally for enthusiastic audiences and received critical acclaim. The company’s home season is held every October in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. What makes the company unique is its trademark style, hula mua. Meaning “hula that evolves,” the style blends traditional movements with non-Hawaiian music like opera, electronic, dance, alternative and pop. The company showcases a mix of hula mua and authentic, traditional pieces in its visually captivating stage productions.


Steve Silver’s Beach Blanket Babylon, the longest running musical revue in theatre history, is a zany musical spoof of pop culture with extravagant costumes and outrageously huge hats. With sold-out performances since 1974, Beach Blanket Babylon is an internationally acclaimed San Francisco institution. With more than 12,000 performances in San Francisco, the show has performed for standing room only during its London and Las Vegas engagements. Beach Blanket Babylon continually evolves in its hilarious parodies of current events and popular icons as today’s headlines unfold. Beach Blanket Babylon is synonymous with the innovative and irreverent spirit associated with San Francisco and is a must-see for locals and visitors alike.

About Rotunda Dance Series

Bringing some of the Bay Area’s most exciting dance artists and companies to San Francisco City Hall, the Rotunda Dance Series celebrates the region’s rich diversity and creativity. These free public performances, happening on the first Friday of each month, are presented by Dancers’ Group and World Arts West, in partnership with San Francisco Grants for the Arts and San Francisco City Hall.

Dancers’ Group promotes the visibility and viability of dance. Founded in 1982, Dancers’ Group serves San Francisco Bay Area artists, the dance community and audiences through programs and services that are as collaborative and innovative as the creative process. As the primary dance service organization in the Bay Area, Dancers’ Group helps artists produce work, build audiences, and connect with their peers and community through artist-focused programs and services including presenting opportunities, funding resources, fiscal sponsorship and In Dance publication.

Rotunda Dance Series. Photo, Ezra Ekman

For over three decades, World Arts West has supported and presented world dance artists throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The main presenting program of the organization is the nationally acclaimed San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, which presents over 100 distinct dance forms and thousands of local dancers who are sustaining and innovating within those forms. The organization works year round to advance cultural literacy and build bridges of cultural understanding.


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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at:

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