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Civic Cultural Commission Strategic Plan

(Adopted by Motion 3/3/05)

Why Create a Strategic Plan?

In 1985, the City of Redwood City adopted a cultural element to its General Plan, which sets a goal of creating a "vital cultural life in Redwood City". As 2005 begins, the Civic Cultural Commission has taken the time to review the element as a basis for the development of its own strategic plan to provide:

  • A focus for the work of the Commission
  • An assessment of what has changed in the cultural climate of the City
  • Information on the opportunities and challenges facing the arts in the City
  • Strategies for reaching our desired cultural goals.

The Commission believes the following principles and values are the foundation for all our work.
  • Celebration the diversity of the Redwood City Community
  • Top quality and excellence in programs
  • Support of community building through cultural activities
  • Recognition that art in all its forms, including visual, dramatic, music, dance, film, literature or other artistic expression, is essential to a vital community

The authors of the City’s first Cultural Element to the General Plan believed that, “cultural activities make the difference between living and merely existing” and that by adopting the element, the City would, “promote a closer, more productive relationship among business, government, the arts and the community.”

The reasons for asking the City to support the development of cultural activities in the City remain true for the present Commissioners and were expressed by the drafters of the Cultural Element as follows:

Creative activities develop self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. They stimulate community spirit and provide an understanding and appreciation of our heritage as human beings. Therefore, it is essential to encourage the appreciation and preservation of the literature, and the visual and performing arts of the city’s multi-ethnic culture. By providing opportunities for individuals to discover their own creative skills, for artists to perfect their talents, and all to gain inspiration and an understanding of their fellow human beings and the world around them, we can also help to unite diverse ethnic, racial and age groups.”

The Cultural Commission has determined that it can best support a vital cultural life in the City in the following roles:

  • Advocate – Example: Proposed % for the Arts Program for new development
  • Funder – Example: Grants Program
  • Broker – Example: Bringing groups together to promote the arts
  • Provider – Example: Summer Concert Series, ‘Tis the Season, School Art Contest, Purchase of public art

Where are we now?

Redwood City is situated midway between a myriad of cultural activities in San Francisco and San Jose and adjacent to the active cultural arts centers in San Mateo, the Mountain View, Palo Alto and Stanford University. Despite this level of activity in surrounding communities, Cultural Commissioners feel that Redwood City is on the brink of a cultural expansion. With the completion of the new downtown plan, we have the unique opportunity now to become the entertainment center of the Peninsula. The importance of this cultural upswing to the spirit of our city and to its economic success should not be underrated. Symphony performances, dance concerts, art shows, and repertory theaters generate income for many other businesses. Furthermore, they are increasingly a consideration in attracting corporations and tourists and our surrounding communities.

The following represents the Commission’s attempt to highlight both the opportunities and challenges of the current cultural climate in Redwood City.

Current Opportunities

  • The Fox Theater located in the center of downtown is under new ownership. It has been physically restored with increased programming being developed by Montalvo. Attractions have included Bill Cosby, Itzhak Perlman, and Jackson Browne.
  • The restoration of historic Carrington Hall on the Sequoia High School Campus provides another downtown venue for the cultural arts.
  • The Downtown Cinema Complex will be completed in 2006.
  • The Mayor’s Task Force completed their work on a proposed Downtown Plan which emphasized the importance of cultural activities and suggested the creation of a cultural arts center.
  • The Civic Cultural Commission is actively involved in making recommendations on public art for the new downtown, as well as promoting artist-friendly live/work areas.
  • The Downtown Concert Series and the Concerts in the Park, both sponsored by the Commission, in Redwood City during the summer months.
  • The former San Mateo County Courthouse now houses the County’s History Museum.
  • The new plaza in front of the History Museum will doubtless provide many opportunities to showcase the arts
  • The Redwood City Art Center offers gallery space, classes and workshops in the downtown, boasts the City’s first mural, and is attracting new artists who are providing more and stronger art programs for the community.
  • The Redwood City School District has completed the renovation or construction of Library/Media Centers and Multipurpose Rooms on all of its campuses.
  • An art gallery space was included in the design for the Redwood City - City Hall.
  • Local groups such as the Sequoia Art Group, Redwood City Heritage Association, Redwood City Archives Committee and public agencies including Canada College, Sequoia Adult School, Redwood City Public Library and Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services provide the opportunity for a wide variety of classes.
  • Many cultural organizations seek the possibility of locating to Redwood City.


  • Local School Districts continue to struggle to provide a rich cultural arts program amid tight budgets. The Redwood City School District and the Redwood City Education Foundation are working together to improve this situation at the elementary school level. As a result there has been marked increases in the number of instrumental music students (from 250 to 600), with students in grades 2-4 also receiving instruction in music. The most recent news indicates the need for the Redwood City School District to cut almost $3 million dollars from its current budget, which may have a negative effect on the District’s ability to continue to support music in the schools beyond the 2004-05 school year. Additional funding is needed to support this valued component of the RCSD instructional program.
  • Offering courses such as music, visual and performing arts continues to be a challenge for our local high schools.
  • Commission has vision to dramatically increase visibility and awareness of public art in Redwood City.
  • No ordinance currently exists promoting the inclusion of Public Art in new developments.
  • Funds allocated by the City for cultural arts currently represent and annual expenditure of less than $1.00 per resident. Making Redwood City a “cultural destination” will likely require additional monetary support and a resulting competition among many other important projects and programs.
  • Defining role City should play in seeking additional dollars in corporate sponsorship, foundation support or other outside funding.

The Civic Cultural Commission considers the opportunities and challenges listed above as the most important issues to consider in development of their 3-5 year strategies.

What do we want to do?

Strategic Goals:

Based on our recognition of the changes in our environment, the Civic Cultural Commission believes that its efforts should be focused on supporting the following:

  • the development of downtown as the City’s cultural center;
  • supporting of the arts both in the elementary and secondary school levels;
  • community building events that celebrate the diversity of our community and support local arts organizations;
  • programs that focus on a senior audience;
  • increased investment in public art; and
  • alternative funding sources for the arts.

As such the Commission proposes the following goals based on its possible roles as advocate (one that defends or maintains a case or proposal), broker (one who acts as an intermediary), sponsor (one who provides funding in support of), and provider (to supply or make available certain special activities) for the arts in Redwood City. The following are examples of the different roles the Commission could play:


  • Promote the establishment of a comprehensive cultural center in the downtown
  • Strengthen the cultural arts experience in the schools
  • Support major downtown annual festival of the arts
  • Public Art Ordinance requiring Public Art in certain developments and new public facilities
  • Retain and strengthen concerts in the downtown
  • Strengthen ties with Farmers Market for promotion of events


  • Major school festival of the arts
  • Partnership with private businesses to support the arts
  • Opera Performances
  • Downtown Lunchtime Entertainment
  • Foreign or Classic Film Festival


  • Art experience in the schools
  • Establish criteria for annual funding cycle
  • Fund Established for the Purchase of Public Art
  • Allocate budget for small and large grants as requested


  • Create at least one activity designed as a fundraising event
  • Summer Downtown Concert Series and Concerts in the Park
  • Elementary School Art Contest
  • Downtown Holiday Event
  • Sunday Concerts

A more detailed list of the organizations, facilities, programs, and special events that are currently a part of the City’s culture is included as Appendix 1 of this plan.



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