San Mateo County Arts Newsletter
November & December 2004


“ECONOMICS OF ART”:  The Good News! 

The California Arts Council recently published a study of the arts industry in California which shows that the non-profit arts organizations in California producing $5.4 yearly, employing l60,000 people and generated $300 million in state and local taxes in 2001-2002.  According to Alberto Rafols, Executive Director of Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County, “California’s ‘creative industry’ is finally being recognized as one of the most important in the world.!’


And we in San Mateo County believe that that there are untold treasures yet to be discovered and enjoyed by our multi-communities.  Let us continue moving in the right direction, highlighting and integrating arts and culture into those communities as powerful economic tools.  Using the Santa Cruz model let us also continue to develop our ties with local government, the business sector, the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and of course the arts community so that we can all continue to enjoy the multitude of treasures our community has to offer.


ARTS FUNDING:  An Investment in Innovation

By Bruce Chizen, CEO of Adobe Systems


Few business leaders would dispute the value the arts bring to the communities where we live and work. Without trivializing the countless other components needed to build a great community, an active art scene -- and the atmosphere of creativity it fosters -- adds to the texture and vibrancy of a city.


Artists, musicians, writers -- and software engineers -- agree that ideas beget ideas and that creativity does not take place in a vacuum. Many experts believe there is a direct link between the level of creativity that exists in a community and the degree to which local businesses innovate and grow. It's not difficult to draw connections between compelling art exhibitions and new product ideas; between inspiring stage performances and innovative business solutions; or between great classroom experiences and children who go on to college and rewarding careers.


I recently read a perspective from someone in the local arts community that said, "If innovation is Silicon Valley's franchise, then supporting environments where creativity thrives is a win-win proposition." I second that opinion. A software company's workforce is its most critical asset, and the drive for creativity and inspiration doesn't turn off at the end of the workday. Arts and cultural organizations help promote the kind of creative thinking that produces better products, more loyal customers and outstanding business performance.


My firsthand experience with local organizations such as the Children's Discovery Museum and the San Jose Museum of Art have shown me how innovative programs can inspire and enrich an entire community. Many of my peers have had similar experiences, yet, as a business community we have not sustained an active dialogue about how to help arts organizations thrive in Silicon Valley.


The challenge of building support for the arts cannot be solved with government resources alone. According to the California Arts Council, the agency's total annual budget for this year drops our state to 50 the in the nation in government art spending at less than 3 cents per person. Because we are the leading economic force in the state, Silicon Valley companies are in a unique position to help reverse this abysmal trend. But that can only happen when business leaders recognize that cultivating creativity in the community is important to the long-term health and success of our enterprises.


Like many companies, Adobe Systems is committed to helping make the communities where we operate better and stronger. Historically, our philanthropic emphasis has been on education and serious humanitarian issues such as hunger and homelessness.


Increasingly, however, we are expanding our focus to include the long-neglected arts organizations that we believe will play an important role in helping Adobe and other Silicon Valley companies innovate and thrive for years to come.


To my peers in the valley: Let's convene members of the California Arts Council, the Arts Council Silicon Valley and local community and public officials to find solutions that benefit the arts, business and the community overall. Then, let's be as committed to that collaboration as we are to building the great products and successful companies this region is known for throughout the world.


BRUCE CHIZEN is chief executive officer of Adobe Systems.

He wrote this article for the Mercury News.


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California Coastal Art & Poetry Contest
The California Coastal Commission invites California K-12 students to submit artwork or poetry with a coastal or marine theme to the annual Coastal Art & Poetry Contest. Up to 8 winners will be selected to win $100 gift certificates to an art supply or book store, and each winner's sponsoring teacher will receive a $40 gift certificate for educational supplies. Winners may have their work featured on the Commission Web site and materials. Entries must be postmarked by January 31, 2005 to be eligible. For contest rules and entry forms, visit, e-mail, or call (800) COAST-4U.


Arts License Plate

Starting January 1, 2005, the cost of the Arts License Plate will increase. Governor Schwarzenegger recently signed legislation by Senator Jack Scott (D-Altadena) that will increase the cost of the plate from $30 to $50 (Renewals will increase from $15 to $40). It is estimated that the added fees will generate an additional $1.5 million to bolster arts support in communities across the state. This adjustment marks the first increase in 10 years for the plate and places it in line with the cost of other specialty plates. However, if you purchase plates BEFORE January 1, you may still pay the old price and save $20.

Designed by noted Northern California artist Wayne Thiebaud, the Arts Plate is the most popular specialty plate in California with more than 122,000 plates sold since 1994 and raising more than $6.8 million. Proceeds from the plate sales benefit the programs of the California Arts Council including arts education and local arts programming. The Arts License Plate was the first plate in the nation whose revenue solely benefited the arts.


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Newsletter Archive:

September 2004

August 2004

July 2004

June 2004

May 2004