by Josh Russell

San Jose, California, Spring 2007

Arts and culture are an integral part of our everyday lives. They are a powerful force for inspiring social change, personal growth, academic achievement, economic prosperity, and improving the quality of our lives. All great cities and civilizations are remembered for their architecture, music and art. Truth is – it is the art in our societies that makes them worth living in.

Founded in 1982, Arts Council Silicon Valley (ACSV) is a private, nonprofit arts organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for Santa Clara County residents by creating and nurturing arts and culture throughout the region.

As the largest nonprofit Arts Council in the State of California, ACSV enhances the Silicon Valley community by providing funding, advocacy, technical assistance, arts education opportunities, and marketing and visibility services through to more than 600 local arts and cultural organizations and individual artists throughout Santa Clara County. The Arts Council recognizes that small and midsize arts organizations and our region’s artists are an essential part of the Silicon Valley ecology. In fact, throughout our history we have distributed over $8 million to arts groups and individual artists throughout the community.

One of this region’s critical components is the visual arts community which not only plays a role in the economic vitality of the area but helps create a unique environment that businesses want to locate themselves in and residents are proud to call home. The Arts Council recognizes this role and annually awards on average more than $200,000 to visual artists and arts organizations through a number of different funding programs.

But the visual arts sector does face some challenges. “One major asset here is the San Jose State University School of Art and Design which brings a lot of recognition and credibility in drawing up-and-coming artists to this region,” said Bruce W. Davis, executive director of Arts Council Silicon Valley. “However, the external perception of this visual arts community is that it not known for being a place where highly accomplished mid-level and higher career artists choose to make their home.”
Another challenge that this visual arts community faces is the lack of media visibility. ACSV has dealt with the issue of visibility and the arts for years – which is one of the main reasons why In August of 2003, Arts Council Silicon Valley launched is an online calendaring website which consistently features more than 1,000 events and includes a directory of nearly 600 local arts and cultural organizations, as well as venue listings, artist profiles, public art listings, classes and workshops, user reviews, jobs, audition notices, local directories, online ticketing, and more.
With nearly 2 million visitors to the website last year alone, Artsopolis is now firmly entrenched as the go-to organization for the majority of the region’s arts marketing efforts.
But visibility for visual arts still remains a challenge. “For the volume of visual arts that is around, visibility and exposure is really embarrassing,” notes Davis. “That and literary arts tend to get the least amount of ink.”
Davis also noted that since the San Jose Mercury News visual arts writer left the paper more than six months ago, the position is still vacant Рleaving a large void of much-needed press to promote this region’s thriving visual arts scene.
But, there are good things happening too. Over the past year, Arts Council Silicon Valley has been chronicling all of the positive things happening in the world of the Arts here in Santa Clara County. The following are the success stories from some of the local visual arts organizations:
On April 28, 2006 the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art became one of a handful of mid-size arts groups to own their own building thus ensuring institutional stability well into the future. Planned renovations to the new ICA location include a 40% increase in gallery space and expanded educational programming, including a permanent printmaking workshop, an artist-in-residency program, printmaking classes, and a contemporary art library/resource center.

The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles has also expanded and moved into a larger gallery space
Currently in progress are plans for the Gilroy Center for the Arts and the Stanford Arts Initiative, which will help realize the vision of the arts as a central and vital force at Stanford;
The Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center opened its doors, providing a new venue for visual and performing arts;
The San Jose Museum of Art has consistently closed its year “in the black”, while offering an amazing schedule of exhibitions and educational programs.

Recognizing these constant challenges, the Arts Council continues to push ahead and offer support to individual artists and arts organizations alike throughout the year. Below are all of the opportunities that visual arts groups and individual artists have to apply for funding through the Arts Council’s programs:

Applied Materials Excellence in the Arts: enables Arts Council Silicon Valley to provide funding opportunities in two focus areas (1) organizational infrastructure through “Leadership and Organizational Enhancement” grants and (2) artistic programming through “Artistic and Program Excellence” grants. Fore more information, visit:

Community Arts Fund: provides project support for arts activities reflective of our multicultural region, with an emphasis on encouraging small, community-based, volunteer-driven organizations. For more information, visit:

Regional Arts Fund: provides general operating support for the administrative and artistic development of arts organizations with emphasis on encouraging professional and semi-professional groups. For more information, visit:

Arts Enrichment Grants Program (organizations): funds programs at participating arts organizations to increase their involvement with young children through new or existing programs that will involve children ages 5 years and under and their parents in the exploration of the arts. For more information, visit:

ArtsEnhance: empowers arts organizations to heighten their visibility, promote their programming and strengthen their audience development activities. Fore more information, visit:

Artist Fellowships: Arts Council Silicon Valley annually awards Artist Fellowships in rotating categories to recognize professional working artists and to enable them to continue to pursue their creative work. For more information, visit:

Arts Enrichment Preschool Arts Grants Program (individual artists): is an artist-in-residency program that brings artists into preschool classrooms to provide and demonstrate appropriate art experiences to young children and early childhood educators at targeted preschools. For more information, visit:

ArtsConnect: is an arts education program that provides year-round arts instruction through comprehensive artist residencies for at-risk youth between the ages of 13 and 18 in classrooms, children‚Äôs shelters and juvenile halls, as well as expand to organizations serving special needs populations such as the homeless, battered women, Alzheimer’s victims, and persons with disabilities that can be influenced in a positive way through arts education and exposure. For more information, visit:

“The grant I received from the Arts Council will enable me to continue my studio practice. This is my goal as an artist, to continue working on my craft, ideas and inspiration. I believe success is measured by more studio times.” – Binh Tai Dahn, photographer and former Arts Council Artist Fellow

Below visual arts organizations and well as visual artists that have received funding and/or artist residencies through Arts Council programs last year alone:

Visual Arts Organizations
Alliance of Visual Artists, Monte Sereno
Art Docents of Los Gatos, Inc, Los Gatos
Art4Service, Gilroy
Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI), San Jose
Community School of Music & Arts, Mtn. View
de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara
Euphrat Museum of Art, Cupertino
Montalvo Center for the Arts, Saratoga
Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto
San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles
Triton Museum of Art Santa, Clara
WORKS/San Jose

Individual Artists
Artist Fellowships Visual Arts (Ceramic & Glass)
Susan Longini
Una Mjurka
Stan Welsh

Arts Enrichment Grants Program Artists
Mark Engel
Gertrud Turner

ArtsConnect Artists
Sarah Baldik
Mark Engel
Claude Ferguson
Judy Gittelsohn
Lori Kay
Kristen Parker
Joan Ruiz Stefano
Gertrud Turner

Throughout 2007, the Arts Council will be celebrating our 25th anniversary. We will continue to play a significant role in ensuring arts organizations and artists are resilient and positioned to survive changes in funding and valuing of the arts. As one of the only regional sources that provides project and general operating support, the Arts Council is looked to as a stable, ongoing funding source; this role has become increasingly important over the last few years as other funding sources have dwindled.

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