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Street Artists Get $100K for Super Bowl Troubles

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Vendors and street artists who were displaced by San Francisco's $4.8 million Super Bowl 50 celebration will recover at least part of the money they lost, the city's board of supervisors voted Tuesday.

In an 8-2 vote, the board approved making $100,000 available for 150 street artists and vendors who were shut out of Justin Herman Plaza for 24 days as the city set up, held and tore down its Super Bowl City events earlier this year.

The nine-day celebration, which took place from Jan. 30 to Feb. 7 and featured a live performance by Alicia Keys, was expected to draw an estimated 1 million visitors to San Francisco.

The two supervisors who voted against the measure - Scott Wiener and Katy Tang - argued money for street artists should have been negotiated in advance as part of the city's agreement with the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.

"My preference would be that we had worked to address these issues before the event occurred," Tang said. "In the future, I hope we can work things out beforehand to prevent the displacement of street artists."

Earlier this year, a scathing budget report faulted the city for not recouping the full $4.8 million in tax dollars it expected to spend hosting the events while the city of Santa Clara, where the Super Bowl game took place, recovered the full $3.6 million it spent.

The city's Arts Commission negotiated 10 spots for street artists to perform or sell their work on Market Street between Third and Fourth Streets during the displacement, the commission's director of cultural affairs Tom DeCaigny told the board.

However, those 10 spots were "not comparable" and did nothing to make up for the "mismanagement" of the Super Bowl 50 "fiasco," street artist Michael Addario told the Arts Commission's Street Artists Committee during a Feb. 18 meeting.

Another artist, Julian Meyer, said he lost half of his income during the "awful" Super Bowl City set-up and celebration, according to Street Artists Committee meeting minutes.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who sponsored the legislation to reimburse street artists, agreed the funds should have been negotiated beforehand but said that should not stop the city from taking care of its artists.

"In an environment where the arts and artists and small businesses are finding it so difficult to survive, much less thrive in San Francisco, this $600 is a symbolic payment," Peskin said. "Many of them lost much, much more."

The board approved two resolutions establishing a Super Bowl 50 impact fund and transferring $100,000 from the city's general reserve to finance the fund.

With the approval of the measure, each street artist should receive approximately $666, possibly enough to "pay half their rent," Supervisor Norman Yee said.

Weiner said he also refused to support the resolutions because they excluded vendors from his district, which includes the Castro neighborhood, where artists and small businesses were also adversely affected by the events, he said.

The San Francisco Controller's Office is expected to issue a report on the actual cost and economic impact of the Super Bowl 50 celebration in the coming weeks, board members said.

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