ArtsWeb Pilot: Networking the Ecosystem

In the fall of 2018, SVCREATES and Community Vision developed a collaborative proposal for a three-year pilot project to address the lack of infrastructure support for Bay Area artist communities that have been historically excluded from representation and investment. We call these communities ‘unmapped’ Creatives. With generous support from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation we launched the ArtsWeb Pilot, an ecosystem-builder for unmapped Creatives, in Santa Clara and Alameda counties.

ArtsWeb Pilot was designed as a decentralized, flexible, relationship-based service hub that connects professional, community-based artists, arts groups, creative entrepreneurs, and free-range artists with business service providers in their communities and with each other, while providing a forum for sharing and mutual aid. 

The pilot project relied on three critical design elements: 1) an informed local strategy to stay rooted in the unique needs of each community; 2) the aggregation of new and existing data to more fully map the breadth of the local arts sector; and 3) and an Arts Business Navigator (ABN) who strengthened the ecosystem through relationship- building and peer support network development.

During the two-year pilot and testing period, ArtsWeb engaged in a community-based business development process managed by two Arts Business Navigators, Tanuja Bahal of Santa Clara County and Zakiya Harris of Alameda County, with guidance from a Steering Committee and two separate Regional Advisory Councils. During the first six months, the Arts Business Navigators met with over 200 individuals, organizations and businesses, and engaged in over 100 hours of conversations, gatherings, and listening sessions to help inform the pilot design. In January 2021, we launched our initial pilot cohorts to prototype several versions of the ArtsWeb business model to match artists, arts groups, and other creatives with business services and providers to advance mission and goal and unleash creativity. We designed a database to build our roster of business service providers to serve our arts ecosystem and to begin to map the network of local creatives and providers. 

While we leveraged the resources and similarities of the regions to maximize our learnings, each geographic community had different demographics, unique qualities, and particular needs. The two-county pilot allowed us to focus on three types of artistic communities: the urban center of Oakland, the suburban sprawl of greater San José, and the rural, agricultural town of Gilroy. We were able to explore the differing challenges for artists in these particular economic, political, and development patterns and the different ways artists navigate power structures and access (or can’t access) resources. 

After assessing and evaluating our two-year fully-funded pilot, the most effective and successful elements of ArtsWeb are being embedded in local arts service organizations in each county. The BlacSpace Cooperative, an Oakland-based cooperative, leverages the Black Arts Movement tradition to build a supportive ecosystem where Black arts, business, ownership, and culture can thrive. The newly rebranded SVCreates ArtsWebHub will continue to employ a client-centered approach and deep listening as an integrated framework within all of their capacity building and grantmaking programs for Santa Clara County. Our deepest thanks to the many individuals and organizations who participated in the pilot and contributed time and expertise.

ArtsWeb Steering Committee:

Kerry Adams Hapner – Director of Cultural Affairs, City of San José Office of Cultural Affairs
Roberto Bedoya – Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Oakland
Connie Martinez – Chief Executive Officer, Silicon Valley Creates
Esperanza Pallana – Director of Strategic Initiatives, Community Vision
Omar Rodriguez – Owner, Kooltura Marketing
Ted Russell – Director of Arts Strategy & Ventures, Kenneth Rainin Foundation
Shelley Trott – Chief Program Officer, Kenneth Rainin Foundation
Tyese Wortham – Community Arts Stabilization Trust

ArtsWeb Regional Advisory Council – Santa Clara County

Mel Day – Artist
Leigh Henderson – Managing Director, Teatro Vision
Arlene Biala – Arts Program Manager, City of San José
Omar Rodriguez – Owner, Marketing Director, Kooltura Marketing
Erin Salazar – Founder, Executive Director, Local Color
Mattie Scariott – Director, Poppy Jasper International Film Festival
Anne To – Artist
Daniel Wood – Composer, hornist, founder of Quadre

ArtsWeb Regional Advisory Council – Alameda County

Ashara Ekundayo – Chief Curator, Art as First Responder
Tyese Wortham – Director of Community Engagement, Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST)
Gregory Jackson – Equal Justice Works Fellow, Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC)
Naima McQueen – Executive Director, Alliance for Community Development (ACD)
Ndidi Okwelogu – Black Economic Network (BEN)
Carolyn Johnson – Executive Director, Black Culture Zone (BCZ)
Byron Johnson – Capacity Building Initiative Officer, East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF)

Curious to learn more? 

For more information on ArtsWeb work in Alameda County and BlacSpace Cooperative in Oakland, please contact Zakiya Harris.

For more information on SVCREATES’ ongoing ArtsWeb Santa Clara County work, please contact Alyssa Erickson or explore SVCREATES website to read how ArtsWeb model and values have been embedded into SVCREATES capacity building programs.