January 20, 2022
Final Reports
San Mateo Courts - Civil Grand Jury

2002 Report:

Arts Commission of San Mateo County

Summary | Background | Findings | Conclusions | Recommendations| Responses


The Grand Jury finds the newly appointed San Mateo County Arts Commission is in the process of setting goals for the arts in the County in conformance with the San Mateo County Cultural Plan 2002 implemented by the Board of Supervisors in January 2002.

Issue: Are the goals of the Arts Commission meeting the cultural needs of the citizens of San Mateo County?


Throughout history the arts (visual, performing and written) and culture have defined communities and nations. All great nations have recognized that the arts are vital to a society's well being and cannot survive without public and private patronage.

Art, regardless of one's age or ethnicity, is humanity's first model for sharing experiences and communicating value and meaning. Art, both a process and a product, is a way of experiencing life. Art expresses the rich multicultural diversity of the County.

For the past decade, the County has not supported the arts to the same level of that of Santa Clara and San Francisco counties. In the summer of 2000, the County Board of Supervisors instructed the County Manager's office to research and prepare for the County a cultural plan that would have the following goals:

  • Identify the available cultural facilities in the county
  • Increase networking and communication between arts organizations
  • Increase advocacy
  • Increase visibility and audience development for arts organizations and artists
  • Increase support of funding
  • Provide stronger arts education programs
  • Recognize the value of diversity in the arts
  • Provide more opportunities for art in public places

The Grand Jury's investigation focused on the creation of the San Mateo County Cultural Plan 2002, the formation of the Arts Commission, the County's contract with ARTshare, Inc. (ARTshare) as a contract arts partner, the initial level of funding, and the proposed implementation strategy contained in the Cultural Plan.


A Cultural Feasibility Study was begun in the summer of 2000 that included meetings with community leaders in government, education, arts, and the media, and other interested groups. In the summer of 2001, San Mateo County retained the consulting firm Creative Planning, Inc. to facilitated meetings with cultural planning leaders, conducted key interviews and focus groups, and held workshops with representatives of local arts commissions. In April 2002, the Board of Supervisors issued the San Mateo County Cultural Plan 2002.

Through a Request for Proposal process, ARTshare, a non-profit corporation, demonstrated its experience and reputation for promoting the arts in San Mateo County and was awarded a two-year contract to accomplish the goals of the Cultural Plan. This $110,000 contract covers the following services:

  1. Promote, support and encourage the arts and cultural activities
  2. Provide excellent customer service to the residents of the county by ensuring that information about the arts is readily available upon request
  3. Maintain the San Mateo County Government Center Gallery with visual works of art created by citizens of the county
  4. Raise funds to finance art in education, grants for artists, outreach, public art exhibits, and other visual and performing arts programs
  5. Prepare and distribute a monthly calendar of arts/cultural events
  6. Maintain a website to include a calendar of events/newsletter
  7. Work closely with all arts organizations in the County of San Mateo
  8. Begin planning and coordinating an annual countywide festival to showcase artists and arts organizations for the community
  9. Partner with the San Mateo County Arts Commission to develop, implement, and update the county's Arts Strategic/Cultural Plan

The Board of Supervisors later established the Arts Commission in accordance with the Cultural Plan and appointed a five-member commission with a representative from each supervisor's district. However, the Board of Supervisors has not committed funding for the arts beyond the initial two-year period.

ARTshare made its first report to the Board of Supervisors and the Arts Commission in July 2002 that showed ARTshare is meeting the goals of the Cultural Plan.


The Arts Commission is in the process of setting goals in conformance with the Cultural Plan for the arts in the County. The Arts Commission, along with its collaborative partner ARTshare, is providing strategies outlined in the Cultural Plan.

The Grand Jury commends the Board of Supervisors for a new and fresh approach to the arts. The Grand Jury also recognizes the help of many talented artists and organizations representing the arts in the preparation of the San Mateo County Cultural Plan.


  1. The Board of Supervisors should develop and implement a policy of continued support for the San Mateo Cultural Plan 2002 with continued funding of its contract arts partner for the arts.

  2. The Arts Commission should set funding goals for ARTshare to supplement County funding
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