San Jose City Council Adopts Cultural Connection: San Jose’s Cultural Plan for 2011:2020
Kerry Adams Hapner
Director, Office of Cultural Affairs

On February 1, 2011, the San Jose City Council unanimously adopted Cultural Connection: San Jose’s Cultural Plan for 2011-2020.  This is an important milestone for San Jose’s cultural life.

In light of the economic downturn and continued downsizing of City government, and the challenges facing arts nonprofits, my colleagues and I evaluated whether it was the right time for San Jose to embark on creating a new cultural plan. We decided it was very important for San Jose to develop a cultural strategy for three key reasons:
Cultural development is an important component of economic development. Developing a distinctive San Jose arts scene is important for San Jose’s economic future, and is part of the San Jose’s Economic Strategy.
The Creative Economy is an important economic engine in San Jose. Nonprofit arts organizations in San Jose drive more than $100 million in economic impact each year and employ 2,300 people. Cultural Connection recognizes and supports all elements of the creative sector in San Jose, including the private-sector. component that includes 1,700 arts-related businesses.
A community that conveys a clear, compelling direction is one that will attract new investment. In a time of limited resources, having a clear strategy can align scarce existing resources and inspire confidence in the future.
Cultural Connection presents a vision of what we want San Jose’s cultural life to become: arts and culture in San Jose connecting people, providing rich opportunities for participation, and fostering creativity.

Cultural Connection has ten, inter-related goals to fulfill the community’s cultural vision over ten years.

Goal 1.  Support residents’ active, personal participation  in arts and culture.

Goal 2.  Support the availability of diverse cultural spaces and places throughout the community.

Goal 3.  Strengthen downtown San José as the creative and cultural center of the Silicon Valley.

Goal 4.  Integrate high impact public art throughout the community.

Goal 5.  Expand residents’ access to arts and cultural learning opportunities.

Goal 6.  Foster destination quality events in San José.

Goal 7.  Strengthen communitywide marketing and audience engagement.

Goal 8.  Enhance support for creative entrepreneurs and the commercial creative sector.

Goal 9.  Strengthen the cultural community’s infrastructure.

Goal 10.  Increase funding for cultural development.

The next step is to develop a two year prioritized work plan that identifies next steps, partners and resources. This work plan will be presented to the City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee at its May meeting. To develop the work plan, the Arts Commission will hold a study session at its April 13 meeting.

We extend our thanks to the Mayor, City Council, Arts Commission, the Local Plan Advancement Team and all of the people that participated in the process.I also want to express my appreciation to the supporters that attended the February 1 Council meeting.Crystallizing the vision for San Jose’s cultural life has been an invigorating process.I look forward to working with our partners and the community to realize this vision.

For more information about the cultural plan, please visit

San Jose Public Art Leading the Way

Public art has been engaging public spaces since – well, let’s just say a very long time. Roman emperors had sculptures of themselves placed in the provinces to reinforce political allegiance, military men and women have been memorialized in heroic sculptures worldwide, and more recently everything from giant spiders to the massively photographed “Bean” in Chicago have come define our public spaces.

San Jose is no different in its desire to activate, engage and enhance its public and publicly accessible spaces. The City’s public art program, a part of the Office of Cultural Affairs, which is a division of the Office of Economic Development, recently celebrated 25 years of engaging artists and communities. Today the program is funded from a variety of both City and non-governmental sources. City funds are derived from 1% of capital improvement projects, 2% on Redevelopment projects. Non-governmental funds may be from developers engaged in projects in redevelopment districts, grants, or sponsorships by private companies. Many of the most recent projects were created during the Decade of Investment at parks, libraries, community centers, and public safety facilities, as well as one of the largest groups of projects at the Norman Y. Mineta International Airport.

As the public art program looks to the future, it continues to align with City development goals – of economic development by engaging creative businesses and supporting the interests of their workforces; of the green vision and developing projects that further enhance education and stewardship of the environment; of engaging the diversity of San Jose; and of innovation.

The Environmental Services Department is one of the Public Art Program’s newest partners in engaging artists to further the department mission. One of these projects is currently on view at the City Windows Gallery (4th Street Retail Windows of City Hall). A beautiful series of photographs that capture the people, environment and activities of the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant by SJSU photography professor Robert Dawson will be on view during the coming months.

One of the most recent and exciting projects is the opening of the San Jose Airport, which launched the program of Art + Technology, bringing three (soon to be four) permanent projects to engage travelers – including the instantly iconic Hands on the parking garage, the intriguing Space Observer, and the sublime eCloud.

In addition to the permanent artwork, there will be a series of changing artworks at the Airport that will rotate every two years or so. Temporary projects are an important aspect of the program. They allow for greater risk-taking by the artist, are smaller budget than artworks expected to last for 10-25 years or more, and allow both artist and community to “test drive” a location or idea for future use.

For more information about the Public Art Program, and the Office of Cultural Affairs, please visit the website at
Creative Entrepreneur Project: Resource Guide Funding Opportunities for Individual Artists Creative Entrepreneurs

Artists are the backbone of cultural life in San Jose. In addition to their creative contributions, they provide an important economic contribution as entrepreneurs and small business owners. Creative entrepreneurs fuel both the nonprofit and commercial sectors with the services they provide. A goal of the City of San Jose is to attract and retain this creative talent.

The City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs’ Creative Entrepreneur Project aims to improve the opportunity landscape for artists of all disciplines who live or work in San Jose.We invite you to explore the resource guide, which provides links to websites of local and national organizations that can serve individual artists and creative entrepreneurs.

Another element of the Creative Entrepreneur Project is our participation in The Creative Capacity Fund (CCF).  Administered by the Center for Cultural Innovation, CCF was launched in 2009 by a consortium of California arts funders to strengthen the work of artists and arts administrators by improving access to the information and professional development resources needed to lead the nonprofit arts sector.  CCF provides professional development grants in two categories:

The Quick Grant Program provides reimbursement funding on a monthly basis for approved professional development activities and consultant fees.  Applications are due on the 15th of the month.
NextGen Arts Grants provide grants specifically targeted to California emerging arts leaders between the ages of 18-35 for their professional development needs, plus Innovation Grants which will allow arts organizations to explore new ways of doing business to support a next generation of arts administrators.
For more information about the Creative Entrepreneur Project, please visit or contact Arlene Biala, Arts Program Manager at


New Pathway for the Arts bridges entrepreneur and creative spirit for arts and culture organizations

San Jose has been selected to participate in the New Pathways for the Arts initiative, directed by EmcArts, a provider of innovation services for the arts sector. San Jose competed against cities across the United States, and was successful based on its signs of readiness, proclivity towards innovation, and robust cultural sector.

By focusing on innovative responses to major challenges and opportunities, New Pathways for the Arts aims to directly impact the future health and public value of participating not-for-profit arts and culture organizations across the country, significantly assisting organizations in enhancing their ability to realize their artistic and public service goals.

New Pathways ties directly into the recently adopted Cultural Connection. Through this facilitated innovation training, San Jose’s arts and culture sector will ignite new ideas and put them into action.

Designed and led by EmcArts, New Pathways features two complementary and simultaneous components:
1.   Three “Community Convenings” for cross-functional teams (management & artistic staff and a board leader) with up to 20 arts organizations, and
2.    Three organizations will go through an intensive “Core Program,” an in-depth intervention around innovation to develop and test breakthrough strategies. The Core Program participants will receive risk capital grants of up to $10,000 to test promising new concepts.

Selection for the program will be by a short application (due Wed. 2/23) from a field of San Jose’s leading professionally-managed arts organizations that have demonstrated strong, adaptive leadership and an appetite for organizational learning.

New Pathways is now being implemented through locally tailored programs in New Haven, CT, Denver, CO, and New York City, NY.  San Jose was selected after a national competition to be the next cities to implement this initiative.

New Pathways | San Jose is supported in part by generous grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.  To download the application form, please visit the OCA website to download the application (Due Wednesday, February 23) that will be posted shortly Friday 2/18), or contact Karen Park at 408.793.4334 to receive an application.


Fostering destination quality events in San Jose is a strategic goal to cultivating San Jose’s cultural vitality.San Jose will once again host Amgen Tour of California in 2011, but with a twist… a windy, challenging uphill finish on Sierra Road.

Considered cycling’s most important and successful road race held in the United States, the 2011 Amgen Tour of California will cover more than 800 miles in eight epic days from May 15 – 22. Stage 4 will take place Wednesday, May 18 with a start in downtown Livermore and a finish on Sierra Road in San Jose.

Stage 4 is a relatively short stage for this race at 81 miles long. But, what it lacks in distance, it more than makes up for with difficulty with legendary scenic climbs including Mt. Hamilton and Sierra Road.

Overall, the 2011 Amgen Tour of California route will not only showcase the beautiful and unique landscape of California, including some of the state’s most scenic landmarks, but will provide some exciting new firsts for the race as well, such as the San Jose mountaintop finish.

This exciting stage finish will be made possible through the partnership between the City of San Jose and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. For information about the Amgen Tour of California and to view the stage videos, please visit

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