San Jose: The Arts at the Heart of Economic and Cultural Development

Posted by Kerry Adams-Hapner On July - 12 - 2012

Kerry Adams-Hapner

Let me begin by saying this: art is at the heart of everything we do. Preserving, advancing, and celebrating culture and expression is our fundamental mission here in San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA).

We strategically position that mission to align with economic development goals, which is authentic to our city’s culture and climate, benefits the sector and enables us to advance our core mission. I don’t have that “intrinsic” versus “instrumental” debate; intrinsic impact is a foregone conclusion for me and the economic benefits enable strategic alignment, a.k.a. partnerships and resources.

In San Jose, the OCA is a division of the Office on Economic Development. I am both the Director of Cultural Affairs and a Deputy Director of Economic Development. Recognizing that a vibrant community attracts talent, and talent attracts companies, our economic development strategy fosters the vital cycle between cultural development (the arts), workforce development (the people), and business development (the companies).

We fulfill our cultural development goals through three primary strategies: attracting and retaining destination quality events; promoting high quality public art and placemaking; and providing arts industry support.

We foster the arts industry through nonprofit grants and support, cultural facility management, and support for creative entrepreneurs—comprised of artists and the commercial creative sector. Each function has its inherent, intrinsic cultural value—celebrating heritage, creativity, and the arts. And yet, we celebrate and amplify the economic side of these functions—culture as a catalyst for business through the nonprofit and commercial industries.It is also a means of building a sense and brand of place, a magnet to attract other industries. Read the rest of this entry »

Westchester: Net Worth vs. Net Value

Posted by Janet Langsam On July - 10 - 2012

Janet Langsam

Here in Westchester (NY), when we talk about the arts and the economy, we have a great story to tell. Working with Americans for the Arts, we have done successive reports every five years since 1995, building our economic impact to $156 million, with some 4,800 jobs.

It is a daunting task reaching out to 150 affiliates, begging data from overworked colleagues, doing live interviews with arts-goers and culling the information; but we do it because it is the single most important tool in our advocacy arsenal.

As an internal document, the report becomes our barometer; we know those are the numbers we have to beat in the next report. As an external document, it gets the attention of thought leaders in our community and perks up the ears of our legislators. It has also built broad community support. In a quick (and not so dirty) community SWOT analysis last year, 95 percent responded that the arts are important to Westchester’s economy.

Yet, as most arts councils, we struggle with the “conversation”—that is, how we talk about the value of the arts in tandem with this “dollars and cents” version of our net worth.

To help us shape the “net value” conversation, we developed a “Why Do the Arts Matter?” series of ads, featuring prominent business leaders saying things like:

“Art has the power to bring people together—especially at a time when every effort is being made to divide people in the world” Read the rest of this entry »

Embracing the Velocity of Change (Part 1)

Posted by Marete Wester On October - 24 - 2011
Marete Wester

Marete Wester

Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA)—a national association serving arts and culture funders—recently held its 2011 conference, Embracing the Velocity of Change, October 9-12 in San Francisco—and Americans for the Arts was there.

For close to twenty years, Americans for the Arts has been pleased to represent the 3,000-plus field of local arts grantmaking agencies in communities both large and small at GIA.

Our history of support of GIA is part of our ongoing commitment to sharing information and deepening the understanding between local arts agency grantmakers and their natural partners in the private funding community.

Collectively, local arts agencies fund more than $1 billion annually in public funding and more than $100 million annually in private funding, providing support for the arts and arts education in communities across the country. The GIA conference is an annual opportunity for us (along with arts funders across the country) to present session ideas for juried selection. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Stop Now, You’re on a Roll…

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On September - 16 - 2011

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

The inclusion of the dialogue between Harvey White and Sen. Stan Rosenberg at the recent Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Diego is a great addition to this edition of the bi-annual Arts Education Blog Salon.

As a San Diegan who has participated in meetings with White and others around the STEM to STEAM issue, I’ve often been frustrated by a lot of talk that has little to do with what can actually be done to move the needle on innovative workforce development.

We’ve had full discussions about changing curriculum and the education system, but never invited a school superintendent let alone an administrator to the meeting. I’ve heard people pass the buck and say, “Well I just come up with these ideas, and you guys need to figure out how to implement them.”

What I liked in their tete-a-tete was the businessman who cares about the issue and knows what will move other business folks to action, talking to the political official who cares about the issue and can move decisionmakers to action trying to come up with a solution together. Read the rest of this entry »

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.