San Francisco’s SOMA Pilipinas awarded $100,000 NEA grant to increase Filipino community visibility

Invisible no more: Filipino Cultural Heritage District to develop new design concepts for public art, cultural markers on Filipino community’s history and contributions in San Francisco

Kapwa Mural celebrating “interconnected” and fellowship of community on top of Mestiza Restaurant on 4th & Brannan.

THE National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded SOMA Pilipinas, San Francisco’s Filipino Cultural Heritage District a $100,000  “Our Town” arts grant to fund the planning process for the increased visibility of Filipino arts, culture, and design. Through this grant, SOMA Pilipinas hopes to reverse decades of underrepresentation of the Filipino community’s history and culture.

This is one of the initial steps to drive the district’s missions, among them, to prevent the displacement of Filipino residents and businesses, and to achieve economic and social equity. The Filipino community is San Francisco’s second-largest Asian American population.

Sample pole banner design featuring two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Victoria Manalo Draves Park who grew up in the South of Market.

The selected project, “SOMA Pilipinas is in the Heart,” is a public art planning process that will engage community stakeholders. NEA selects only one recipient of this award per city in a highly competitive process.

“We are very honored to be selected for this prestigious award from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Building on last year’s state designation of SOMA Pilipinas by the California Arts Council, we are excited to work with community members, artists, and urban designers to develop creative concepts for integrating Filipino art and designs in the public realm, including special crosswalks, street light adornments, and new plaques and murals that will show the rich history and culture, and great contributions of Filipinos in SOMA and throughout San Francisco,” said Raquel Redondiez, Director of SOMA Pilipinas.

“(These) projects strengthen communities by providing opportunities for the arts to be integrated into the fabric of community life.  We are pleased to support SOMA Pilipinas,  in their partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission, on  public art planning and capacity for artists and cultural organizations, “ said Jen Hughes, Director of Design and Creative Placemaking at the National Endowment for the Arts. 

With this new grant, SOMA Pilipinas will launch its new brand with hundreds of pole banners throughout the City.  They will also be working with the San Francisco Municipal and Transit Authority (SFMTA) and Department of Public Works (DPW) to develop special design crosswalks along 6th Street and Folsom and Howard.  New plaques and murals are also underway, like the “Kapwa” mural sponsored by the Filipino Mental Health Initiative and SOMA Pilipinas, which is visible from 101 north toward the Bay Bridge. 

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