STATE of the ARTS: A Bay Area Arts Blog Forum

Barry Hessenius, Former Director of the California Arts Council, hosted a virtual forum with some of our esteemed local arts agency leaders.  Check out a highlight from each question, click through to read the whole forum on Barry's blog, and post your comments to participate!

Forum Participants:

Tom DeCaigny - Director of Cultural Affairs, San Francisco Arts Commission
Michele Seville - Arts & Culture Manager, City of Richmond
Connie Martinez - CEO, Silicon Valley Creates
Roberto Bedoya - Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Oakland
Kerry Adams Hapner - Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of San Jose
Kristen Madsen - Director, Creative Sonoma
Olivia Dodd - CEO & President, Napa Valley Arts Council

How can local arts agencies & organizations collaborate better together?

"City and county local arts agencies are not as well positioned for regional cooperation when compared to private arts organizations and philanthropy. Public policymaking has consistently shifted more and more to local control and local arts agencies such as the San Francisco Arts Commission typically have geographic restrictions on public funding. Elected officials who control public arts funding are inherently focused on their local constituents and therefore lack incentive to support regional initiatives. On the contrary, much of private philanthropy serves the region and has greater flexibility around funding guidelines and regional initiatives." -- Tom DeCaigny

How is your agency building public will for the arts?

"The San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs is participating in a multi-phase national initiative called Creating Connection to build public will for the arts and culture.  Through aligning the arts with the existing closely-held values of San Joseans, the goal is for the arts to be recognized as a vital and essential part of the daily fabric of life." -- Kerry Adams Hapner

What new funding streams can we implement to support Bay Area arts?

"In areas like Cincinnati and Louisville, regional united arts fund models have raised millions of dollars from philanthropists, special events, and corporate giving programs.  In the greater Portland area the regional governments support the operations of their local arts agency based on a cost of living formula and they even have an agreement that the arts can not be cut disproportionately to other services. Voters additionally approved an income tax levy that provides $35 per person for grants in education and access to the arts." -- Olivia Dodd

What can we do to maximize meaningful arts education for all local students K-12?

"In Silicon Valley, we have created a marketplace for teachers to “buy” Common Core inspired arts education from our arts ecosystem with mini grants through ArtsEdConnect, a technology platform that matches teachers needs and interests with arts education opportunities and providers like Starting Arts." -- Connie Martinez

How are you addressing the challenges of equity, diversity and race in your area?

"Eligible grantees include arts and cultural organizations, and projects can occur in or out of schools and in non-traditional settings.  Partnerships with other community based organizations, including non-arts organizations, will be encouraged.

The next phase of work on this project will require us to dig deep into our communities to find the thoughtful work we know is being produced by individuals and organizations that may not have found their way to us on their own, and help them come in.  We are clear-eyed that the learning curve in Year One will be steepest for us as funders as we re-think our systems to be more open, inclusive, and impactful across the entire county." -- Kristen Madsen

Thanks to Barry & all of the forum participants for your wisdom and sharing!

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