Knight Foundation invests in San Jose’s future through arts

$775,000 in Knight funding will be used to empower artists and arts organizations

Contact: Roshni Neslage, Communications Officer, Knight Foundation, 305.908.2623, [email protected]

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — January 29, 2020 — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced major investments in four San Jose arts organizations, advancing work that empowers local artists and the arts sector.

Through $775,000 in local investments, Knight Foundation is demonstrating its belief in the power of the arts to strengthen communities by connecting people to place and to each other. From its continued local funding, the foundation aims to support artists and organizations in taking greater control of their futures, boost organizations’ ability to create spaces where people can engage with art and support organizations leading community conversations around arts and culture.

“The arts are a vital part of San Jose, the heartbeat that moves the city forward,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight’s vice president for arts. “These investments will help ensure that vibrant arts and cultural organizations can thrive and continue to drive important conversations around the future of the city.”

San Jose Taiko performance

A tech industry hub, San Jose is known for its high cost of living, an obstacle that is often challenging for artists to find workspace and pay for overhead costs. As such, local artists and cultural organizations spend significant time seeking funding to ensure basic needs can be met. Knight’s investments will help arts organizations meet their operational costs, such as rent and payroll, allowing them to use their existing resources to build upon their current work, develop new programs and reach new audiences.

“These organizations demonstrate on a daily basis the powerful role arts play in San Jose, and this support will help them take their work to the next level,” said Priya Sircar, Knight’s director for arts. “We’re honored to know and support these artists and organizations, to recognize what they’ve done for the community, and excited to see their work grow and flourish.”

The organizations and projects receiving funding are:

  • Local Color ($250,000): To support Local Color’s general operations and catalyze its growth for the next three years, expanding its application of innovative strategies to serve working artists in San Jose. Local Color will use Knight funding to build capacity and provide more affordable workspaces for local artists. It will also work to expand the skills of San Jose’s local creative community through resources, training and partnerships. Erin Salazar, executive director of Local Color, was recognized as a 2019 Knight Public Spaces Fellow for her work to build economic opportunities for creatives.
  • Sangam Arts ($250,000): To curate and commission collaborative performances between artists of different traditions at venues throughout the community and produce an annual multicultural arts festival in San Jose. Support will help the organization elevate the Mosaic Silicon Valley program, which works to break silos among San Jose’s artists and audiences. The organization will expand Mosaic to a year-round program and help create sustainable revenue streams for its artists while bringing innovative multicultural performances to community settings.
  • San Jose Taiko ($200,000): To build organizational capacity at San Jose Taiko through support of four strategic initiatives: a designated fund for experimentation and innovation, capital equipment replacement, professional development for staff and hiring of an additional artistic staff member. The organization’s innovation fund, which Knight’s investment will seed, will seek new ways to engage audiences through avant-garde projects, classes and performances. The organization aims to routinely replenish the fund, providing opportunities for future experimental ideas.
  • San José Museum of Art ($75,000): To present With Drawn Arms, a collaborative exhibition by Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith, at the San José Museum of Art. The exhibition of collaborative work by renowned Japanese-American conceptual artist Kaino and Smith, an Olympian whose career was shaped in San Jose. As a member of San José State University’s legendary “Speed City” track team, Smith raised his fist on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics to support civil rights and human rights worldwide. The exhibition, currently on view at the museum, commemorates Smith’s iconic gesture and explores its continuing resonance with the activists of today.
Participants in an Sangam Arts performance. Photo by Swagato Basumallick.

Knight Foundation’s Arts program staff will be in San Jose this week to meet with local arts organizations, potential partners and individual artists. The public is invited to a meet-and-greet session on January 29 from 5-7 p.m. at Uproar Brewing Company. Their visit also includes time at a panel conversation, “The Art of Collaboration,” hosted by Sangam Arts on January 30 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. The panel conversation will be held at UCSC Silicon Valley Extension Campus in Santa Clara.

Last week, Knight announced a new three-year initiative to support the redevelopment of San Jose’s Guadalupe River Park and Gardens into an urban open space that’s more meaningful for local residents and becomes a destination for them to gather.

Local Color’s 100Block Family. Photo courtesy of Local Color.


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

Image (top): Installation view of “With Drawn Arms: Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith,” San José Museum of Art, California, 2019. Photo by JKA Photography.