Salinas Arts & Innovation Hub
Providing an outlet for communal creative exchange, and eco-innovation, to address Salinas’s youth violence, poverty, and social inequity.
Community artists performing a recent production on Drought in the Salinas Valley.
Artwork created at the recent Art & Healing Workshop with Urban Arts Collaborative.
Community participants at our most recent Art & Healing Workshop with Urban Arts Collaborative.
Organic produce display from our recent Art & Healing Workshop with community artists and organic farmers of Urban Arts Collaborative.
Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)
Salinas, California is a region familiar to many for its massive agricultural output, accounting for 85% of US fruit and vegetable exports. Unfortunately, the economic and ecological toll this takes on the region is exacting, from the impacts of widespread pesticide use, to the extremes in wealth disparity. With a “57% increase” in homelessness over the last year, according to a recent article in the Californian, (Wu), a staggering homicide rate, and lingering difficulties with gang violence, the Salinas Valley, deemed the "salad bowl of the world", struggles with extreme social and economic inequities.
To build bridges among industry, artists, and community, to address the issues we are individually struggling to solve, and to bring community engagement and social cohesion, a team of Salinas educators, artists, and collectives are creating the Salinas Arts and Innovation Hub. Our vision is the direct connection of artist/innovators to independent and collaborative opportunities, services and space through partnership - with one another, area industry, and community. Our mission is to employ - and empower. The hub will provide an outlet for communal creative exchange, and innovation, addressing Salinas’s growing youth violence, poverty, and income disparity, by bridging the income/opportunities gaps: and serving the vital arts organizations and collectives trying urgently to stay afloat in the region. Currently, these disparate efforts are decentralized, and strained by the lack of affordable, accessible arts space, sustainable arts employment, and collaboration. Finally, innovation itself is stymied by this decentralization, forcing artists, and other innovators in the region to remain locked in their own silos, competing against, rather than working with one another to bring peace, prosperity, and planet to the fore for the benefit of all. We believe Art is the vital link, connecting us to the natural environment, to one another, and to ourselves.
Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)
Our beneficiaries are the marginalized, predominantly Latinx populations living in the Salinas Valley. Salinas, as a center of commercial agriculture, is home to a number of farm workers and their families, many of whom have been displaced by the rising costs of housing in the region, due in part to industrial land use and in part to both, the region's position within Monterey County --the well-known tourist destination-- and the region's proximity to Silicon Valley.
How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)
There are many Arts Centers and Arts Councils in our region, most in the surrounding coastal communities of Monterey County, but there is no central arts hub in the Salinas Valley. Additionally, no effort has been made to create a sustainable, long-range arts and innovation ecosystem in Salinas. By leveraging college, community, and industry partnerships, and combining the efforts of new and existing arts collectives, The Salinas Arts & Innovation Hub can create new financial/sustainability models, and new, innovative industry and community solutions, by providing a physical space for artists and innovators to work - affordably - and directly connecting artists and innovators with employment as well as with other interdisciplinary professionals.
Our approach is intersectional, human-centered, collaborative, and community-rooted, and we have had a tremendous outpouring of support from all sectors as we have moved forward through the initial design, prototype, and pilot stages.
Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)
Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.
Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)
The Salinas Arts and Innovation Hub will provide leadership opportunities to diverse arts workers in the Salinas Valley, with sector-wide leadership potential for positive social, ecological, and economic impact.
Organization Filing Status
No, but we are a formal initiative through a university.
In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.
As a teaching artist, I've worked in many parts of the US, and remain shocked that despite California's -and the central coast's- reputation for artistic and technological innovation, little has changed to address the real inequities in the Salinas Valley, since John Steinbeck wrote "The Grapes of Wrath" depicting the plight of the itinerant fieldworker. As a college educator I want to help support and actualize the social practice art we teach about in the classroom.
Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).
Peace has been greatly influenced by economic duress, as many in the region are forced to work long hours in the fields and this, combined with increases in gang-related activity, creates a precarious environment for youth and residents of all ages. These difficulties, exacerbated by the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing in the region threaten the prosperity of individuals and community alike. And while efforts are underway, by artists, educators, and innovators in the region, to shift the focus to more organic farming methods, and to collaborate across sectors; ongoing conventional farming and economic practices threaten community and planet. Our hope is to address all of these areas: helping artists work with industry partners & providing stability to community artists offering art and organic produce workshops, art and healing workshops, free programming and mentorship programs for youth, & free programming for the growing retired fieldworker populations.
Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)
The Salinas Arts & Innovation Hub has gotten underway thanks to grants from California’s Center for Cultural Innovation: Investing in Tomorrow Grant Program, and from the Arts Council for Monterey County. Other partners include: the Hartnell College Foundation, Cal State Monterey Bay's Salinas Center for Arts and Culture, the Media Center for Arts, Education, and Technology, and local arts collectives including: Baktun 12, the Urban Arts Collaborative, ARIEL Theatrical, and others. These organizations are helping us to provide free workshops to the community, but our hope is to be able to have a space to allow community artists to work freely and to collaborate with one another, coming together to help change the power structure, allowing artists to work with industry partners, and bringing full-scale support to these vital collectives.
Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)
Our community has a strong sense of belonging and has a wealth of vibrant arts organizations already hard at work, trying to serve the large youth and aging populations in the region. We also have a growing youth population -- our future change-makers who, at present are being forced out of the region to find employment in the arts. We are urgently focused on trying to support these organizations and individuals who are all very excited to build bridges for this and future generations.
This idea targets the Salinas Valley, in Monterey County, along California's central coast.
How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)
The project will be ongoing, and if we receive help through the BridgeBuilder Challenge, we will be able to secure a space and within 12 months will be fully operational as a hub.
Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)
If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)