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genARTS Silicon Valley

genARTS’ Creative Conversations is an annual event that brings together the arts community for an open dialogue about the arts sector.

I attended an evening on On Wednesday, April 19th from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. of insightful conversations, relationship-building, and art, as we discussed sustainable funding practices in the arts at the artist, funder, and government levels. 

The evening was moderated by Stephanie Barajas, current genARTS Co-Chair, and included leading community leaders and arts professionals who provided a unique perspective on philanthropy, grant making, and sustainability efforts to support the resilience of artists and creatives in Silicon Valley.

Fireside Chat on Sustainable Funding Practices in the Arts

Moderated by Stephanie Barajas Stephanie Barajas – San Jose, California, United States | Professional Profile | LinkedIn with a three person Panel:

Ron P. Muriera: Ron P. Muriera – Director – Arts Industry Support, Office of Economic Development and Cultural Affairs – City of San José | LinkedIn

San Jose, California, United States

  • Manage the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs’ Arts Industry Support Section that includes the Cultural Funding Grants portfolio, technical assistance, Operations and Maintenance (O&M) agreements with nonprofit partners managing City-owned arts/cultural facilities, San Jose Creates and Connects;
  • Initiatives, Creative License Ambassador and Creative Entrepreneur Programs.

Mr. Muriera explained the Transient Occupancy Tax:

Transient Occupancy Tax: (TOT), or hotel tax, is a 10% fee imposed on visitors staying at hotels or motels in the city. Forty percent of the revenue goes to the general fund. The remainder goes into a fund that subsidizes the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, operations of Team San Jose and the Office of Cultural Affairs.

After Santa Clara County became one of the first in the nation to issue a shelter order in March 2020, hotels and convention centers shut down en masse. Conferences, sporting events and other large gatherings were also canceled or dramatically curtailed.

The Office of Cultural Affairs receives 15% of hotel tax revenues and is the primary source of local arts funding. The city saw a slight increase in January, collecting almost $1.5 million in hotel tax revenue, but that number went down to $594,000 the following month. Monthly revenues between March and May hovered around the $1.1 million mark.

According the Economic and Planning Systems in 2020, hotel occupancy rates in the downtown Hotel Business Improvement District fell to 7.8% in April last year, a drastic reduction from 74% occupancy rates two months prior. In February 2021, occupancy rates reached 18.4%.

San Jose’s hotel tax, consequently, plummeted from $5.3 million in January 2020 to $577,000 in June. In December of 2020, the city collected about $386,000, the lowest revenue level in 2020.

In 2021 San Jose had anticipated relatively strong TOT growth. The city had estimated that hotel tax revenue could double the 2020 collection level from $12.5 million to $25 million.

In 2020, over the course of the pandemic, the city’s art program gave 167 grants to local artists and organizations with $2.5 million in one-time COVID-19 relief funds. In 2021, the art program continued to rely on federal American Rescue Plan funds and other one-time use reserves.

In 2021, the Office of Cultural Affairs brought bring back its popular events, Make Music Day 2021, CityDance San Jose, Music in the Park, and Jazz Summerfest.

All of these activities have been critical to our social cohesion and cross-cultural understanding, and our community and economic recovery so that we could build back better post-pandemic. In 2023, the arts are open and mean business.

Laura Poppiti: Laura Poppiti – Program Director – Center for Cultural Innovation | LinkedIn

Laura Poppiti is an experienced program and development director with a demonstrated history of working in the nonprofit arts and culture sector. Skilled in Philanthropy, Nonprofit Organizations, Event Management, Fundraising, Community Organizing, and Museums. Strong professional with a Master of Arts (MA) focused in Exhibition and Museum Studies from San Francisco Art Institute. 

As Laura stated, her role is to help individual artists and help them with grant writing because it is very difficult.  Also, to demystify the whole process which is very difficult and harsh.

Tasi Alabastro, Multi-hyphenated Artist, dreamer, doer, and flaneur.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I enjoyed the degree to which I was able to glean insight to who I was and wanted to be by being able to look back at what I felt was worth reflecting on–as evident in my 200+ blog posts, now fully transferred from their previous published pages on WordPress (thanks WordPress, seriously). 

​A decade later, the days seem longer and the day-to-day information is moving faster than light, at the very least, as fast as your Wi-Fi can handle. That is why I create art. Art, for me, is all about the process, and boldly owning the process has gifted me with an opportunity to have a career working on solo projects, and with some ridiculously talented people. Also, it helps not to be an asshole. “Golden rule” and all.

There are successful artists who want to see other artists succeed.

ABOUT | genARTS Silicon Valley

In conclusion, I learned about the TOT, or hotel tax, which is a 10% fee imposed on visitors staying at hotels or motels in the city. Forty percent of the revenue goes to the general fund. The remainder goes into a fund that subsidizes the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, operations of Team San Jose and the Office of Cultural Affairs.

Secondly, there are resources through the Center for Cultural Innovation where artists can go to obtain information and help on the grant writing process which is very difficult and harsh. Their role is to look at individual artists. Many artists expressed that while in school they learned how to create art, however, it was extremely difficult to learn the business side to promote and sell their art as sole proprietors.  

Founded in 2007, genARTS Silicon Valley serves emerging arts and cultural leaders and bridges communication between emerging, midcareer, and established leaders through their programs and events. SVCreates is dedicated to assembling, supporting, and empowering a thriving community of arts and culture leaders who are prepared to guide and serve this region’s arts and culture community of tomorrow.

Focused locally on San Jose and Silicon Valley as a whole, SVCreates still maintain important statewide connections across California and keeps an eye on the national conversations in the arts and culture sector, specifically through their connection to American for the Arts as a registered Local Emerging Leaders Network.  

genARTS Silicon Valley highly values partnerships and collaboration, situating themselves as the hub of a network of networks.

If you have additional information, my audience and I would love to hear about it. Tell us about it in the reply.