Lack of Cultural Amenities, Affordable Housing Hurting Silicon Valley

While creativity is widely valued in California's Silicon Valley, a solid majority of the valley's movers and shakers believe the region is slipping in its ability to attract creative workers, a new report finds.

Funded by Adobe Systems, Inc. and the Knight, Irvine, Packard, and Hewlett foundations, and published by San Jose-based Cultural Initiatives Silicon Valley, the report, 2005 Creative Community Index: Measuring Progress Toward a Vibrant Silicon Valley, found that a majority (58 percent) of eighty-four regional leaders surveyed lamented the valley's perceived lack of cultural opportunities.

The telephone survey also found a significant correlation between adults in creative occupations and their support for or participation in the arts. For example, 92 percent of the people in creative jobs (40 percent of those interviewed) favored mandatory arts education, while 55 percent of adults in the region described themselves as amateur artists.

Moreover, while almost all respondents agreed that the valley's technological leadership depended on the creative talents of the workforce, only 7 percent said the valley was attracting the creative talent it needs. While no one called the situation a crisis, most said the region is deficient in three cultural factors that are significant for recruiting creative workers — leisure opportunities, a vibrant urban neighborhood, and cultural amenities. In addition, respondents said, the valley does not offer nearly enough affordable housing, which is crucial to attracting new residents as well as artists.

"There are people, CEOs, in the valley and some foundations [who] still don't make a connection between the traditional arts and the creativity that goes on in the valley in technology and bio-tech," Susan Hammer, CISV board president, told the Mercury News. "[The index] provides the kind of information that I think potential funders of the arts are going to look to."

To read or download the complete report (26 pages, PDF), visit: http://www.ci-sv.org/pdf/
Index-2005.pdf.

Jack Fischer. "In Survey, Valley Leaders Lament Cultural Environment." San Jose Mercury News 10/07/2005.