Exploring New Pathways for the Arts|San Jose

Arts / Article

By Karen Park, Arts Program Manager, Office of Cultural Affairs, City of San Jose

The San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs in partnership with EmcArts has selected seventeen local San Jose arts organizations for New Pathways for the Arts|San Jose, a model innovation program directed by EmcArts, a leading not-for-profit provider of innovation services for the arts. New Pathways seeks to stimulate a culture of innovation in a local arts community by working with a large cohort of leading arts organizations in that community through three group convenings and providing in depth coaching and facilitation to a smaller subset of interested organizations who are ready to test and implement innovative ideas.

Innovation is defined by Richard Evans, President of EmcArts, as: “Instances of organizational change that 1) result from a shift in underlying organizational assumptions , 2) are discontinuous from previous practice, and 3) provide new pathways to fulfilling the mission.”

The first group convening was held on April 1, 2011 with about sixty people representing the board, artistic and executive leadership of leading arts organizations selected for their commitment to innovation and representing the rich diversity in San Jose. At the first convening, leadership teams from each organization got straight to work — exploring the roots of innovation by examining adaptive challenges that are resistant to current strategies, focusing on the shifting the underlying assumptions that underlie their work and surfacing new hypothesis about where success may lie in the future.

The City of San Jose was selected to participate in the New Pathways for the Arts initiative after a nationwide RFP, seeking communities with a robust cultural sector and a proclivity towards innovation. By focusing on innovative responses to major challenges and opportunities, New Pathways for the Arts aims to directly impact the future health and public value of participating not-for-profit arts and culture organizations across the country, significantly assisting organizations in enhancing their ability to realize their artistic and public service goals. “In the City’s Office of Cultural Affairs we also have an energetic partner, committed to purposeful innovation in building public value and strengthening the local economy through the arts,” said Richard Evans.New Pathways | San Jose is supported in part by generous grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.”