By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero


Randy Cohen, Vice President of Americans for the Arts, (left) was introduced by Kerry Adams Hapner, San Jose’s Director of Cultural Affairs

On the morning of March 12 more arts activists and leaders of arts organizations met in the San Jose City Hall Rotunda (after the previous week’s presentation by Bob Lynch) to continue the discussion on ways to convince funders — from government to foundations, corporations and individuals– that the arts are essential to realizing all their goals, even in economic downturns.

Americans for the Arts presented their research publication: Arts and Economic Prosperity III, which focuses on Santa Clara County. A great deal of the data assembled will be included in the planning document, The San Jose Cultural Vision Plan 2040, which now includes the arts for the first time.

Armed with the substantial statistics and research that Americans for the Arts have compiled, Randy Cohen, a native of Cupertino and Vice President of Americans for the Arts, offered a lot of good reasons to keep the arts alive in our communities and schools. Cohen’s experience as an advocate for the arts in public media (CNN, CNBC, NPR, Wall Street Journal, New York Times) was evident in his spirited talk.

Did you know these facts?
• Employers for the third millennium, seeking employees that are creative problem-solvers, look for an individual with an arts degree, entrepreneurial experience (self employment), and an interesting appearance/dress at the interview.
• Employers hiring new employees in business look at creativity and innovative abilities above achievement in the 3Rs.
• At-risk youth who have arts experience show improved communication with adults, enhanced abilities in problem solving, greater interest in school.
• SAT scores for students who have had the arts in their educational experience are, on average, 90 points ahead of those without that benefit.
• Students who become involved in the arts have better grades, better attendance and more community involvement. This is especially true and more evident in lower economic levels.
‚Ä¢ In spite of parents’ desire and support for their children’s involvement in the arts, 20 – 30% of school funding has been lost for the arts since the enactment of “No Child Left Behind”.
• To promote healing, hospitals and clinics are introducing arts experiences for families, staff and patients together.


Brad Erickson spoke persuasively, as did other panel members, Diem Jones, Anna Weldon and Connie Martinez.

Following Randy Cohen, the forum continued with presentations by Diem Jones, Director of Programs, Arts Council Silicon Valley, Anna Weldon, Director of Communications, Arts Council Silicon Valley, Brad Erickson, Executive Director, Theatre Bay Area and Connie Martinez, Managing Director and CEO, 1stACT Silicon Valley. Each brought different and stimulating approaches and observations on the arts in our community. Connie Martinez offered her own unique tips for arts organizations: “Don’t spend too much time gathering data and statistics, as others are doing it for you! Use that information! Listen to your on-site audience, literally. Talk to them and find out first hand what they like and don’t like about what you do!” She also advised fundraisers to look to individual donors for their organizations: “Government, corporations and arts advocates can set the stage, but it is really the one on one contact with individuals that will bring in the greatest support!”

Finally, the audience was reminded to show support (Yes, send those important letters and email to your California legislators!) for AB 700: “Creative Industries and Community Revitalization Act”. Google The Creativity Network, Calif AB 700 to find out what this law could do for the arts in California!

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