A few years ago Carolyn Schuk, wrote in the Santa Clara Weekly, a powerful argument in favor of the economic value of having an arts community. I concur.
I also want to remind us of the emotional and psychological value of arts. It is through the arts that we see the vision of what could be. Arts inspire. Arts provide role-models of excellence. Arts bring us powerfully emotional connections to ourselves, our values, and our dreams.
We need the arts – both the performing arts and the visual arts. BUT, as Carolyn so wisely points out – in order for them to be financially successful as well as emotionally powerful, there needs to be a “there – there.”
Having a location around which many arts organizations, restaurants, art galleries, pedestrian friendly areas and shopping all come together is what makes for an economically thriving – and community enriching success.
Times Square in New York City. The Town Square in almost any city USA or Europe. When I was in Athens, Greece, thousands of celebrants came to cheer at the success of one of their sports teams. They all came to the center of Athens, to Syntagma Square (Constitution Square) which was the square below the hotel in which I was staying. Looking out the window, I could see the excitement growing. Everyone knew where the action was going to be – everyone knew where to come to share their joy. Although not an art center, think Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It was and is the “there – there.”
One of the main problems facing retail business in downtown San Jose is that the city failed to create a center square. Instead, they broke up the main downtown streets by light rail and cars. This makes everything spread out and thus difficult to walk around – one almost needs to drive from event to event and the few restaurants are somewhat stretched around. In contrast, Santana Row got it right, much to the chagrin of many in planning in San Jose.
What does Santa Clara have? Franklin Mall? Valley Fair? The grounds around the City government buildings?
I agree with Carolyn. We need to develop an arts entertainment center – a “there – there.”