Illuminating DowntownSan Jose, CA
This month, ArtPlace followed up with San Jose’s Director of Cultural Affairs Kerry Adams Hapner to ask her about her experience at the ArtPlace Creative Placemaking Summit.
ARTPLACE: What ideas did you gain or lessons did you learn that you plan to apply to your initiative?
Adams Hapner: In January, Art Place had named Downtown San Jose as one of America’s Top ArtPlaces. Learning about ArtPlace’s development of vibrancy indicators at the Creative Placemaking Summit gave me the tools to talk about Downtown San Jose being honored with this unique distinction.
San Jose was fortunate to participate in summit in several ways. Three of our ArtPlace funded projects were showcased: Illuminating Downtown Project, the transformation of Parque de los Pobladores and the launch of the ZERO1 Garage. Also, the summit featured a “San Jose Challenge,” in which we asked our colleagues to help us think through how San Jose can leverage civic investment and get the private sector to step up in our placemaking efforts.
ARTPLACE: What did you share about your initiative that was surprising to you or to other participants?
Adams Hapner: We are on the right track! Placemaking is a work in progress. It takes time, patience and consistent turns of the flywheel to gain momentum and velocity.
ARTPLACE: What new opportunities for your initiative did you identify from conversations with other creative placemakers?
Adams Hapner: San Jose is seeing an increase in the number of diverse, unique creative entrepreneurs. Kip Bergstrom said to me, “Throw gas on the creative entrepreneur fire!” Facilitating pop-up storefronts for creative entrepreneurs was suggested as a key strategy, which could really help Downtown San Jose on a number of fronts. I want to advance this concept in San Jose, and there are a couple of irons in the fire.
ARTPLACE: Where does this movement go to next?
Adams Hapner: Creative placemaking is interdisciplinary. It requires a set of strategies from communities and across sectors, where the arts are at the heart of those strategies. When we talk about the “arts,” we are talking about a broad range of cultural development strategies that range from facilitating outdoor special events and festivals, creating and sustaining cultural facilities and the activities that take place therein, commissioning public art and high quality urban design, and supporting creative entrepreneurs. Placemaking doesn’t lie within just one of these areas; it’s a mix of them all. This movement needs to further leverage interdisciplinary strategies across sectors.