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Vacant to Vibrant: Artists to Fill Vacant SF Storefronts

Updated: May 04, 2023 09:38
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You’ve certainly heard about the catastrophic vacancy rate (nearly 30%) in San Francisco’s commercial sector, or seen it with your own eyes.  Simply taking a stroll downtown will give you the visual equivalent of ‘crickets playing’, as a metaphorical tumbleweed bounces to and fro, down the empty patchwork of storefronts and abandoned eateries.

But thankfully in San Francisco, although we may have lost several tech bros and their venture capital chums, we at least have artists and arts non-profits to help fill some of this void with creative things.

We’re very happy to say that Building 180 and Paint The Void’s partnership with the SF New Deal in launching the VACANT TO VIBRANT program for pop-ups in downtown San Francisco!

Applications are now open through June 1, 2023. APPLY HERE!

The Vacant to Vibrant grant opportunity provides free space and funding for artists and other community members to activate and draw people downtown. We encourage artists to think outside of the box. The spaces provided can be transformed into a gallery, community hub, immersive experience, marketplace, art studio, workshop, performance venue or any other idea that you might have.

The Vacant to Vibrant program is designed to provide resources and funding to support pop-up activations in vacant ground-floor spaces downtown. We know pop-ups aren’t a single solution for San Francisco, but they do reflect a unique opportunity to try something new, to think creatively, to support our community members, and to demonstrate our passion for an inclusive and diverse San Francisco.

The initial focus for Vacant to Vibrant will be on activating cohorts of pop-ups in downtown San Francisco. The first phase of this program will support a group of 10-15 activations, all launching around the same time and within a close vicinity of one another.

If accepted, participants will be offered a space for three months, with leases signed by SF New Deal. SF New Deal, in partnership with the San Francisco Office of Small Business, will support activators interested in extending leases in navigating conversations with property owners and brokers, but cannot guarantee a long-term placement.

Vacant to Vibrant pop-up applications for the first cohort of programming will be accepted through May, 2023. After that, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. We anticipate our first round of pop-ups to launch in late-Summer of 2023.

You can learn more and check out the application at

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor and co-owner of this little expiriment. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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