San Francisco

City re-invests in SoMa Pilipinas cultural heritage district, Undiscovered night market

In its second year and with its final month of the season about to wrap up, Undiscovered SF, a night market in SoMa's Pilipinas cultural heritage district, is making headway to become a permanent fixture in the neighborhood. 

The market, produced by Kulitivate Labs — a nonprofit business incubator that emerged from the neighborhood designation — along with the cultural heritage district, announced it has been awarded grants totaling $316,250 from city agencies to help fund the event and to support emerging entrepreneurs in the neighborhood. 

The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development have supported SoMa Pilipinas and the market since its inception in 2017. 

Additionally this month, the organization was awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to "identify and design placemaking opportunities in the district," a representative told Hoodline. 

After the city initially invested $125,000 in grants to the cultural district to begin the night market, more than 35,000 visitors have attended events generating roughly $250,000 in economic activity, twice the amount of the city's initial investment. The organization also raised $41,000 from a crowdfunding campaign. 

“Investments like these expand opportunities for local emerging entrepreneurs, celebrate the rich cultural history and experience of the Filipino community, and create local attractions to bring people to this neighborhood,” said OEWD director Joaquín Torres. “Through food and art, we are supporting the vitality of the Filipino cultural district and nurturing a diverse generation of new small businesses in San Francisco.”

The grants are aimed at fostering an expansion of the neighborhood's economic development activities, beyond the Undiscovered night market, and to hopefully fill vacant storefronts with neighborhood-serving businesses, said the representative. That will include funding for pop-up events, creating a merchant's association, and providing seed capital for a permanent retail incubator, called Republika. 

And in a new partnership with the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, Kultivate Labs plans to invest $35,000 in professional services for six area businesses in a program called SEED Accelerator. 

"We sparked a fire in the hearts and minds of the Filipino-American community with Undiscovered by bringing the best elements of SoMa Pilipinas together — art, activism, Third Wave Filipino food, music and dance — under one roof," said Kultivate Labs executive director Desi Dagnangan in a statement. "Our economic development model is actually quite simple. Lead with the arts and food to draw people to the cultural district, and support emerging businesses from our community, jumpstarting economic activity." 

In celebration of Filipino American History Month, Undiscovered's last night market of the season is this Saturday, October 20, from 4–10 p.m. at 401 Minna St. The event features an all women lineup of performances from Pinay artists, such as Ruby Ibarra, Rocky Rivera, Tracy Cruz, DJ Umami and more. 


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