Some great news for the City of San Jose came out of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) conference call earlier this week.
An Our Town grant, one of only 51 grants awarded nationwide, was awarded to the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program (SJPA) in partnership with ZER01: The Art and Technology Network (ZER01).
The $250,000 NEA funding will be matched by SJPA and ZER01 and used to promote and enhance downtown San Jose’s livability and arts engagement through the initiation of Silicon Valley Inside/Out (SV I/O). SV I/O will wed the creativity of the technology and cultural sectors to create a mash-up that will help downtown San Jose define the look and feel of the “Capital of Silicon Valley.” The goal of the project, according to organizers, is to stimulate a more engaged community and promote new partnerships between art and technology.
Our Town is the NEA’s latest investment in creative placemaking, through whichpartners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the social, physical, and economic character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities.
National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Landesman said, “Communities across our country are using smart design and leveraging the arts to enhance quality of life and promote their distinctive identities. In this time of great economic upheaval, Our Town provides communities an opportunity to reignite their economies.”
SV I/O is an expansion and enhancement of efforts by SJPA and ZER01 to engage a broader spectrum of downtown San Jose stakeholders in the conversation of livability through creative placemaking. SV I/O will immerse people in the vitality of Downtown by adding in a technology-activated layer of cultural engagement. SV I/O will make downtown San Jose a ‘lab’ where artists will seek new resources, and explore how an interactive city might function. Through the promotion of new partnerships between arts organizations, artists, tech workers and technology companies, Silicon Valley Inside/Out will stimulate sustainable connections between culture, business and community by creating a series of temporary and permanent arts projects, all of which will be situated in downtown San Jose, connecting the vibrant SoFA District with the Convention Center and San Jose State University via the adjacent San Carlos Street corridor. The long term goal of SV I/O is to build sustainable bridges between technology and art to define the sense of place in downtown San Jose.
SV I/O will launch three parallel initiatives: 1) the creation of a Strategic Advisory Committee that will frame and guide the development of opportunities, 2) the development of 3 new technology-activated public art projects, and 3) a series of temporary projects. These multidisciplinary art projects will reflect the region and will include opportunities for active public participation.
According to Kim Walesh, San Jose’s director of economic development and chief strategist, “San Jose has led the nation in bringing together the art and technology sectors for community and economic benefit for some time. The Our Town grant will allow San Jose’s Public Art Program and ZER01 to step up collaboration with local stakeholders on an exciting program to increase Downtown San Jose’s cultural and economic vitality. As the Capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose understands that a great place for innovation is a place that supports the evolution of new boundary-crossing art forms, and SV I/O is an amazing opportunity to contribute to this evolution.”
Joel Slayton, executive director, ZER01 The Arts and Technology Network, added, “Place is critical, and the realization of Silicon Valley Inside/Out, as a result of the generous Our Town grant, provides us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate how arts organizations have the ability to stimulate cultural and economic sectors, and inform the changing nature of collaboration, experimentation, and invention. The public art projects generated through SV I/O will create platforms for community-wide participation that will be the key component of the 2012 ZER01 Biennial – and then remain in place for future activation. Created through dialog between artists, arts organizations and Silicon Valley-based technology companies, the art projects will mirror the innovation of the region by responding to the idea of place-making in Silicon Valley through the activation of space.”