Marketing is for terrible people, and art is for people who don’t realize they’re terrible. Leave it to an $85,000 city-sponsored “art project” highlighting San Jose’s sewer system to synergize the two.
“What went wrong?” It’s a question I have been asked repeatedly regarding the demise of San Jose Rep, which filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this summer.
I often hear it said that San Jose lacks culture. I’d like to say that the speaker is invariably not from around these parts. But more often than not, I hear it from San Joseans. It’s reached the point where I’m not surprised anymore. In fact, I have a speech polished and ready to go for these very occasions. When you’re wearing an Arts Commissioner badge, it never hurts to be prepared. Thankfully, some news arrived at last week’s monthly commission meeting that will add some heft to my argument.
Six years ago, I found some friends and formed a band. Two years ago, I joined the board of a local theater company. And last year, I took the opportunity to fuse my passions by applying for and being appointed to the city of San Jose arts commission. The common reaction when I tell people about my moonlighting gig goes something like: “What does an arts commission do in a city with no culture?”
Arts and Culture are words used quite often to describe the vibrancy of cities; particularly big cities looking to attract business, tourists and new residents. City folk have enjoyed arts and culture entertainment for centuries, which has been funded both privately and publicly.
The thriving arts scene in San Jose appears to be helping the local economy rebound from the recession. The San Jose nonprofit arts sector provided more than $122 million in economic activity, according to the “Arts and Economic Prosperity IV” study released by the city Friday.
Last year, Mayor Reed’s budget, which most of the councilmembers supported, gave warning to the city-funded “Art” groups that they would no longer receive funding from the city starting on July 1, 2012. As we know, the budget deficit continues. But one idea discussed at a recent Economic Development committee meeting was to simply away buildings in lieu of continued fiscal subsidies, allowing art groups the potential to increase fundraising.