What We Have Done

In 2020, with funding from the Rainin Foundation and support from the County of Santa Clara, SVCREATES launched a pilot program to explore ways to bring ArtsWeb services and resources to the city of Gilroy. SVCREATES’ research highlighted the significant inequities in this community and the lack of inclusion of the Gilroy arts ecosystem in SVCREATES' current county-wide grantee portfolio. Aligned with SVCREATES goal of catalyzing capacity and resilience in our historically under-resourced arts ecosystem, we began our work to understand the Gilroy arts community, its needs, and how SVCREATES might best invest in the region.

After 18 months of focus groups and interviews, guided by locally based culture-bearers, SVCREATES convened the Gilroy Arts Circulo in October 2021 to develop potential strategies for uplifting and empowering local artists and the local arts community. In addition, in 2021 we tested several models of providing direct mentoring and consulting support to a cohort of artists and arts groups. In early 2022, we began the evaluation of this work and planning for our 2nd phase of building our suite of resources and networks for the Gilroy arts ecosystem.

What We Have Learned

After meeting with individual artists, nonprofit arts leaders, creative entrepreneurs, educators, local business owners and philanthropists, elected and appointed City leaders, we have learned that Gilroy is unique in Santa Clara County as a primarily rural and agricultural community that feels very separated from Silicon Valley. Yet, the suburban sprawl and economic pressures of the Valley are creeping in and are of great concern to local leaders, residents, and artists. Artists in Gilroy have been mostly “unmapped” for decades (perhaps even centuries); that is existing outside of a formal nonprofits structure. 

We have heard clearly that artists and creatives want to establish ongoing peer networks, receive mentoring, training, and advocacy tools. They also want help accessing grant opportunities locally and beyond.

What's Been Done

  • Established a monthly Gilroy Arts Roundtable to build a local network, provide peer support, foster collaborations, and leverage resources.
  • Coordinated the Gilroy Community Health Youth Mural, a partnership with Blue Shield of California, to empower youth to express their aspirations for a healthy community in Gilroy through the expressive lens of a mural. Artist Armando Franco was selected to complete the Community Health Youth Mural in collaboration with youth from the Gilroy community at 6th Street Studios & Art Center, 64 W 6th St, Gilroy, CA 95020.
  • Sponsored the first Annual Gilroy Chalk Festival, produced by MANOS in downtown Gilroy.

What's Next

  • Work with a Gilroy Artist Advisory Group to design a grant program specifically for Gilroy-based artists and arts organizations, funded in partnership with the Packard Foundationthe City of Gilroy, and the County of Santa Clara.
  • Host a series of workshops to provide skills and resources to local artists and arts leaders.
  • Engage with the Gilroy Arts & Culture Commission to advance policies and programs that support the arts.

Gilroy Arts Circulo: October 2021 
Graphic Facilitation: Anthony Weeks

Gilroy Community Health Youth Mural: April 2022

Armando Franco describes the mural he painted alongside a group of young artists at 6th Street Studios and Art Center in downtown Gilroy. Photo: Erik Chalhoub