The Campaign

Art+Action’s arts-driven public media campaign—established through a process of interviews and collaborations with key community-based organizations—reflects an ideology of equity and plurality. The campaign is a creative call to action that aims to motivate all communities to participate in the 2020 Census.

Harnessing the power of both internationally-renowned and as-yet-unknown and youth artists who represent a myriad of San Francisco—and beyond’s—communities and neighborhoods, the campaign connects people to the Census on a human level, as an urgent act that benefits each of us, our families, communities, and our cities as a whole. With a public presence on billboards, transit shelter posters, kiosks, street pole banners, and more, in different neighborhoods across the city—and country—and presented in the four official languages of San Francisco: English, Chinese, Spanish, and Tagalog, the campaign offers information about the impact of the 2020 Census on all our lives for the next decade.

The creative platform, COME TO YOUR CENSUS was developed under the guidance of Art+Action Director of Messaging + Creative, Amy Schoening,  with SF-based creative syndicate Partners in Crime and Amy Finn of Agency by Others. The campaign—featuring typography developed by VocalType—was brought to life by MCCALMAN.CO design studio, Stoller Design Group, and artist + designer Robert Saywitz—who reimagined select posters for Art+Action’s free online open-source Census toolkit.

Public Media Campaign
Art Projects

The outdoor campaign premiered during Martin Luther King Jr. Week in January 2020, with 38 large-scale ‘COME TO YOUR CENSUS, S.F.’ posters featuring the work of 10 artists with strong connections to the Bay Area—Marcela Pardo Ariza, Miguel Arzabe, Emory Douglas, Andrew Li of Creativity Explored, Hung Liu, George McCalman, Masako Miki, Joel Daniel Philips, Clare Rojas, and Stephanie Syjucoon JCDecaux kiosks along San Francisco’s Market Street corridor. This first iteration of the campaign appeared in the Castro, Duboce Triangle, Embarcadero, Financial District, and in SOMA through the generosity of San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC), who donated their advertisement space for Art+Action’s use.

Transit Shelters
The second expression of the campaign appeared on 50 transit shelter posters in Balboa Park, Bayview, Duboce Triangle, Dogpatch, Excelsior, Forest Knolls, Hunters Point, Ingleside, Inner Richmond, Japantown, Laurel Heights, Lower Haight, Marina, Mission Bay, Mission District, NOPA, North Beach, Outer Mission, Outer Richmond, Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Russian Hill, Upper Haight, Visitacion Valley, and Western Addition in San Francisco in March 2020. For this iteration, in addition to the original artists, Art+Action commissioned Lava Thomas, Innosanto Nagara, For Freedoms (Hank Willis Thomas and Emily Shur in collaboration with Eric Gottesman and Wyatt Gallery), and Antonio Benjamin of Creativity Explored to add their imagery to the series. Broadening the call to action beyond S.F., the posters spoke to groups to which we all belong who all are dependent on Census funding: ‘COME TO YOUR CENSUS, FAMILIES / STUDENTS /  RENTERS / COMMUTERS / VOTERS.’ 

Further augmenting the multitude of artist voices in the campaign, imagery by artist Angela Hennessy, the artist collective See Black Women and youth artist Isha Thorne (winner of Art+Action’s youth artist open call) appeared across billboards in S.F. beginning in April 2020. These hyper-local billboards called out specific neighborhoods, asking communities to ‘COME TO YOUR CENSUS,  BAYVIEW / EXCELSIOR / INGLESIDE / INNER RICHMOND / MISSION DISTRICT / NORTH BEACH / NOPA / TENDERLOIN / VISITACION VALLEY.’

Art+Action teamed up with Coalition Partner Firefly to bring the campaign nationwide via car-top mobile billboards in Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Los Vegas, Miami, New York, and San Francisco.

San Francisco Public Library
Collaborating with Art+Action Coalition Partner the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), the campaign was actualized on large-scale interior and exterior signage, as well as bookmarks, at the main SFPL branch and in the Castro, Civic Center, Chinatown, Bernal Heights, Excelsior, Ingleside, Inner Richmond, Inner Sunset, Marina, Mission District, Mission Bay, Noe Valley, North Beach, Outer Richmond, Parkmerced, Parkside, Potrero Hill, Presidio, Upper Haight, Visitation Valley, and Western Addition.

Sanctuary City Project
Art+Action partnered with Sanctuary City Project (SCP) to develop a series of silkscreens and posters with 2020 Census messaging: “Who Counts in America?,” “We Will Not Be Erased,” and “10 questions. 9 minutes. $20.000.” Together, we invited community members into conversations about the Census, as they created custom screenprints in Chinese, English, Spanish, and Tagalog, with Sanctuary City Project’s mobile bicycle print cart in locations across San Francisco: San Francisco Civic Commons, the San Francisco Public Library, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Versions of the posters were also made available in Art+Action’s free online open-source Census toolkit

As Art+Action pivoted to online programming amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, SCP created ‘Undercounted’ an animation that was shared digitally via Instagram, which outlined research by the artists on communities historically undercounted in the Census. For Coalition Partner Yerba Buena Center for the Art’s online art+civic experience, Come To Your Census: Who Counts in America, SCP was asked 9 questions (mirroring the 9-question Census) around activism, community-building, and art in an interview inYBCA’s Zine.

Art+Action commissioned artist Arleene Correa Valencia + Ana Teresa Fernández’s collaboration SOMOS VISIBLES / WE ARE NOT INVISIBLE. The ongoing project takes a political stance on visibility through the use of high-vis ready-to-wear safety gear present throughout many labor industries, as it relates to the invisibility of the undocumented in the U.S.. In the context of the 2020 Census, the project seeks to engage undocumented communities in dialogue about their fears of being counted, seen, and having their voices heard to receive their fair share of resources. Upon demonstrating proof of completing the Census, the artists gave participants complimentary SOMOS VISIBLES sweatshirts.

Originally planned to be brought into neighborhoods—including the Mission (during Art+Action Coalition Partner Acción Latina’s bi-monthly community art event Paseo Artistico), SOMA (at YBCA), and Napa (at the Napa Valley flea market)—due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project was reimagined online through a series of videos, in which the artists engaged in dialogue about how the Census impacts our most vulnerable. The videos—released as a part of Art+Action and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ art & civic online experience Come to Your Census: Who Counts in America?—demonstrated how to iron the phrases “SOMOS VISIBLES” and “WE ARE NOT INVISIBLE” on to high-vis sweatshirts, and how to make SOMOS face masks. The artists also were interviewed in the YBCA Zine: Part 1 + Part 2.

The project was made possible through the generous support of Levi’s. To receive a SOMOS VISIBLES sweatshirt, send proof that you’ve taken your 2020 Census before October 31 to

The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful

Mirroring the ethos of the Census that every child and family counts, Art+Action presented The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautiful at the Museum of the African Diaspora on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2020. The youth-led art project invites participants to create origami butterflies as visual representations of migrant children in detention centers, in order to raise awareness and inspire action to end child detention. 

Having to pivot to online activities in the wake of the COVID pandemic, Art+Action commissioned The Butterfly Effect to create a video demonstrating how to make your own butterfly as an at-home art activity, to encourage all kids and families to be counted in the Census.

Leah Nichols
Art+Action commissioned artist Leah Nichols to create an easy to read How To: 2020 Census postcard that offers step-by-step instructions for how to complete the Census in Chinese, English, Spanish, and Tagalog. The postcard was printed and distributed to Art+Action Coalition Partners and available online for all to download for free in Art+Action’s online toolkit.

Leah Nichol’s film, 73 questions—whichemphasizes the importance of an individual’s voice—was included in Come to Your Census: Who Counts in America?, the online art+civic experience created in partnership with Art+Action and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. In the style of Vogue’s rapid-fire interview series of the same name, 73 Questions takes you through the streets of San Francisco with Steve Jones—a poet and 40-year San Francisco resident—who, at the time the video was made, was experiencing homelessness, asking about his life in the city, his literary influences, and his hopes for the future. Watch the film here. NIchols was also interviewed for Coalition Partner YBCA’s Zine

Brian Singer
Art+Action commissioned artist Brian Singer to design a faux $20,000 bill to be distributed at Art+Action public events and online via social media. The $20,000 dollar bill represents the per person dollar amount distributed to community programs over 10 years, based on Census data. The design features a list of community programs that are funded by the Census—including essential emergency services, healthcare, affordable housing, food assistance, schools, child care, public transportation, road repair, senior centers, and more.

Graffiti Camp for Girls at Gray Area
Art+Action and Coalition Partner Gray Area co-commissioned Graffiti Camp for Girls to create “EVERYONE COUNTS,” a 2020 census themed mural depicting San Francisco, at Gray Area’s location on 23rd and Mission Street.

Ana Sergeeva YOU MATTER
Art+Action commissioned artist Anna Sergeeva’s YOU MATTER series to reflect and empower the myriad communities in San Francisco—particularly those that are experiencing homelessness. During Sergeeva’s time as an Artist in Residence at Art+Action Coalition Partner Lava Mae, many of the unhoused people with whom she connected emphasized their appreciation for the San Francisco Public Library as a safe, productive space. As such, Sergeeva created puzzles and bookmarks—to be made available at Art+Action Coalition PartnersSan Francisco Public Library’s 28 branches and at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts—featuring the statement “YOU MATTER” in Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, and English, overlaid on images from the community-generated San Francisco Public Library Shades of San Francisco photography archive. The YOU MATTER series is available in Art+Action’s Census Toolkit.

Txutxo Perez 
Art+Action and Coalition Partner Hospitality House co-presented an at-home video demonstration of ‘How to Make a Linocut Print’ with artist Txutxo Perez. Perez created a series of linocut prints focusing on the working class, families, and youth that were born in the U.S. from immigrant parents, to highlight that everyone has the right to safely participate in the 2020 Census—citizen or not. Perez chose the linocut process given its history as a traditional printmaking method for resistance movements, and for its traditional use for the Day of the Dead. Watch the video here.

Innosanto Nagara
Art+Action commissioned artist and renowned children’s book author (A is for Activist) Innosanto Nagara to create a video reading his book Counting on Community, followed by a kids counting activity: make yourself count by counting who lives in your home, and ensuring they all fill out the 2020 Census. The video was distributed online by Art+Action, YBCA, and by Nagara’s publishing house Seven Stories Press. Watch it here on Youtube, Facebook, or Instagram.

Launch at City Hall
Mayor London N. Breed and Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched SF Counts’ 2020 Census campaign. This was a free, family-friendly, open-to-the-public event at San Francisco City Hall hosted by Art+Action Coalition Lead Partner the City & County of San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA). A reception and community fair followed the speakers.

Butterfly Effect at Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) for MLK Day
Mirroring the ethos of the Census that every child and family counts, The Butterfly Effect: Migration is Beautifula youth activist art project—creates a visual representation of incarcerated migrant children in order to raise awareness and inspire action to end child detention. For The Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation’s San Francisco MLK Day, Art+Action presented The Butterfly Effect at Art+Action Coalition Partner, Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD). This was a free and open to the public event where youth demonstrated how to make paper butterflies with event attendees all while speaking about the importance of the 2020 Census.

Sanctuary City Project at YBCA for MLK Day
Art+Action presented Sanctuary City Project for The Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation’s San Francisco MLK Day at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Sanctuary City Project invites community members to utilize their mobile screenprint cart (a transformed front-loader bicycle), to print and share custom silkscreen posters in Chinese, English, Spanish, and Tagalog to educate and mobilize our communities to participate in the 2020 Census.

San Francisco Public Library Night of Ideas
Art+Action presented Sanctuary City Project Art+Action Coalition Partner San Francisco Public Library’s Night of Ideas—a festive night in the heart of the city, with a collaborative and interactive seven-hour program of debate, performances, dance, and music featuring top thinkers from San Francisco and beyond. Sanctuary City Project invites community members to utilize their mobile screenprint cart (a transformed front-loader bicycle), to print and share custom silkscreen posters in Chinese, English, Spanish, and Tagalog to educate and mobilize our communities to participate in the 2020 Census.

California College of the Arts (CCA)
Art+Action and CCA’s DMBA students in the social impact Cosine Collective invited the public to team up to reach out to cities, employers, schools, and communities across the Bay Area and the country to proactively share Art+Action’s arts-driven 2020 Census campaign materials so everyone can receive their fair share of resources and representation by participating in the 2020 Census.

Sanctuary City Project at SF Civic Commons
For SFCounts Census Community Kick-Off event in the San Francisco Civic Commons, Art+Action presented Sanctuary City Project for the free, family-friendly event at the final 2019 1st Sundays Block Party. This event was a sneak peek of Art+Action‘s city-wide arts-based 2020 Census campaign. Screenprints with Sanctuary City Project were made by and for the public in Chinese, English, Spanish, and Tagalog—to educate and mobilize our communities to participate in the 2020 Census.

Sanctuary City Project at YBCA for YBCA Summit
For YBCA’s 2019 Summit, Art+Action presented Sanctuary City Project who screen printed posters “WHO COUNTS IN AMERICA?” and “9 QUESTIONS. 10 MINUTES. $20,000. 2020 CENSUS” to educate and mobilize our communities to participate in the 2020 Census. Every year, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts releases the YBCA 100 list, which recognizes the artists, leaders, activists, thinkers, movers, and dreamers who are using their creative and political power to enact change. On Saturday, October 19, 2019, YBCA hosted the fifth annual YBCA 100 Summit to honor the people who are using their platforms to create social change. At the Summit, artists, activists, policy makers, and cultural and community leaders gathered for an afternoon of performances, dialogue, and collective dreaming. The YBCA 100 Summit built community and inspired creativity, imagination, and critical solutions for social progress.

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