SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Today, Mayor London N. Breed and City Administrator Carmen Chu announced the transition of Vallie Brown, the Director of Grants for the Arts (GFTA). Brown, who became Director of GFTA in March 2021, led the agency to improve fairness, equity, and accessibility in its grantmaking process. She will continue to serve the City as part of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s (HRC) team working on the new “healing arts” granting projects and equity.
Grants for the Arts, a division of the City Administrator’s Office, provides general operative support for San Francisco art and culture organizations. Since its establishment in 1961, GFTA has provided over $420 million to local organizations and artists.
“I want to thank Vallie for leading Grants for the Arts at a difficult time for our City and our arts community,” said Mayor London Breed. “The pandemic severely impacted arts in San Francisco, and Vallie stepped in to this position to successfully help our local organizations and artists not only navigate these challenges, but also to thrive. Vallie has always been someone whose public service is driven by putting the community and her love for San Francisco first.”
“I am grateful for Vallie’s public service and leadership at the helm of Grants for the Arts. She has led with passion and conviction that an investment in the arts is an investment in our City’s economic and cultural vitality,” said City Administrator Carmen Chu. “During her time, Grants for the Arts has provided over 500 grants to arts and culture organizations across the City, making possible a richness in events, festivals and experiences that enliven our City. I want to thank Vallie for continually pushing to support and expand the voices of underrepresented communities in the arts.”
During her time as Director, Brown worked to strengthen GFTA’s commitment to equity and serving San Francisco’s diverse communities. She focused on making the granting process more accessible to organizations rooted in and serving communities historically underserved in the arts, simplified the application process and implemented a new IT platform to ease the administration of close to 300 contracts annually. Brown has also focused on delivering investments in arts programming, parades and festivals that activate public spaces and drive economic activity across the City.
“Vallie Brown’s unwavering dedication to supporting historically underfund arts organizations in San Francisco through Grants for the Arts has been truly commendable,” says Rodney Jackson, Artistic Director and co-founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company (SFBATCO). "Her commitment has been a vital asset to organizations like mine, which often struggle to access public dollars.”
“As an arts organization that has presented our work in San Francisco since our inception in 2008, receiving support from Grants for the Arts for the first time this year made us feel valued in our contribution to the San Francisco arts community and gave us peace of mind to focus on our show and artists,” said Eric Solano, Artistic Director of Parangal, an indigenous Filipino folk dance and music company, which applied for GFTA funding the first time in 2022. “We are so grateful for the work of Vallie and the Grants for the Arts team under her leadership. We will miss working her, and we wish her the best in her future endeavors.”
Brown’s last day with Grants for the Arts will be in February 2024. The City Administrator’s Office will begin a search for a new director of Grants for the Arts in the new year.
“It’s been my honor to work with the arts community and the amazing staff at Grants for the Arts,” said Brown. “It wasn’t always easy but I’m truly proud of the work we accomplished in the last 3 years. I’m excited to work with Director, Dr. Sheryl Davis and the HRC staff, to be part of the important work they do every day.”
Brown served on the Board of Supervisors as the District 5 Supervisor in 2018, after being appointed by Mayor London Breed. Prior to becoming Supervisor, Brown worked as a Legislative Aide and Chief of Staff for ten years to former District 5 Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and London Breed. She also worked in the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, where she focused on furthering opportunities for residents to move into new housing being built in their neighborhoods.
Brown has lived in San Francisco since 1985. As a working artist, she lived in warehouses with other artists for many years and worked as a nonprofit art teacher and grant writer. She was born and raised in Utah by her single mother and grandmother. Her father, who passed away when she was a child, was Paiute and Shoshone descent. She studied art and communications at the University of Utah, and currently lives in Cole Valley.