Movable Feast, San Jose.

DIY Creative Sector Innovation

The Creative Industries Incentive Fund (CIIF) is a partnership between CCI and the City of San José Office of Cultural Affairs (DCA) that began in 2007 and inspired the development of the CIIN initiative. CIIF provides project support to local commercial businesses—such as manufacturers, service providers, presenters and designers, among others—involved in the production or distribution of the arts. OCA Director Kerry Adams Hapner and Program Manager Arlene Biala lead the project, which will be the first in the CIIN cohort to reach completion. Some of the fund recipients from the past two years include:

As Adams Hapner mentioned in a 2015 interview, “San José’s culture is DIY. People are participatory, creative, global, educated, and innovative. They are actively engaging in the arts in a personal way. San José’s arts community is multi-faceted, diverse, multicultural, and adaptive,” with equal numbers of Asian, Latino, and Caucasian residents. Because of the influence of the tech sector and OCA’s location in the heart of Silicon Valley, it made less sense to implement a traditional grantmaking program for arts nonprofits than to support individual artists and creative businesses (which is one of three programs of the OCA, with the other two being public art and events). Biala described that OCA’s support of arts entrepreneurship resonates well locally.

This program resonated outside the area as well, in particular with Surdna Foundation, which was looking for ways to catalyze creative economy projects. The success of CIIF led directly to Surdna Foundation’s investment in experimenting with other types of creative economy projects throughout California, and San José’s CIIF was grandfathered into the Creative Industries Incentive Network program in 2013. As a result, San José’s participation in CIIN officially ended in 2016, and they are now seeking funding to continue and further evolve the program.

In the next—and final post—on San José, we will cover lessons learned from three years of CIIF projects, including conversations with some of the artists and organizations, and describe some of the project partners’ ideas about where this program can and should go.