Arts and Culture are words used quite often to describe the vibrancy of cities; particularly big cities looking to attract business, tourists and new residents. City folk have enjoyed arts and culture entertainment for centuries, which has been funded both privately and publicly. It is not uncommon for people to travel out of state and even internationally for festivals that explore various unique arts and culture.
Residents of a particular region will usually travel closer to home to experience arts and culture. For example, people in the Bay Area drive over an hour to San Francisco (SF) to partake in the Arts. For many of those that seek out the Arts in SF, their first thought is not about the city’s crime rate or road conditions but rather about the entertainment. They will spend $20-$40 on gas, their time driving back and forth, $20-$30 to park, and in some places navigate the sidewalks through panhandlers, alcoholics, drug users, drug dealers, etc. to arrive at a venue to be entertained and escape from their daily lives.
I have traveled north many times to see unique art, one-of-a-kind venues and paid handsomely in time and money to experience it. However, I value art closer to home without all the obstacles and safety concerns. Last week, I was able to enjoy the world premiere play, “Death of a Novel.” What a fantastic show with a full house at our own San Jose Repertory Theater. Powerful monologues, witty banter and racy material all in our downtown.
A criticism of the classic Arts like theater and opera is that the audience is mostly geriatric. Well, if you ever have been on the fence about seeing a play, this is the one to see. For those under 50 who may have been turned off or simply not interested in theater, this is a show for you. The play ties in social media, deception, profanity, sex and a story that you are not sure how it will end.
In San Jose, we are very fortunate to live in a place where people have devoted years of their lives providing entertainment for the region both Downtown and other locations, like the new Renegade Theater Experiment in the Rose Garden.
This week the Zero1 Biennial returns to Downtown displaying art and technology on a grand scale. The last Zero1 Biennial in 2010 attracted 47,000 visitors to Downtown, which resulted in a great crowd, full restaurants and hotel room nights. Zero1 is funded mostly by foundations and corporate sponsors, however, the city of San Jose has allocated $68,000 from the $13.1 million Hotel Tax fund. In past events, ZeroOne artists like the Rockwell Group are famous for lighting up the City Hall with interactive art comprised of lights.
With all the madness and chaos cities face across the country with reduced revenues and reduced services, this does not stop the individual resident from pursuing their intellectual curiosities or experiencing sheer escapism through entertainment. As humans, we seek many different facets in life beyond shelter and food. One of which is connecting with others in the physical world and enjoying a common experience providing a cultural literacy that we can discuss and relate to one another. In a small farm town it may be a barn dance; in San Jose we have a substantial variety of arts and culture.
If you would like to volunteer at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden then join me and the Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden this Saturday at 9am. This particular volunteer effort will be done in the memory of Ivan Kolte. Ivan was a 94-year-young San Josean who loved the Rose Garden and passed away recently, joining his deceased wife and high school sweetheart.
Pierluigi Oliverio is a San Jose councilmember for District 6.