Arts and Culture: Keys to Community Recovery Out of the Pandemic


County launches Office of Arts and Culture

Aug. 4, 2021
Redwood City –
 It’s tempting for some to say that there exists no first-class arts and culture scene between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s not true, of course.

Here on the Peninsula alone, there’s Zawaya in San Mateo, which promotes and teaches Arabic arts, and Quinteto Latino in Menlo Park, which seeks to build community through Latino classical music. Manuia Polynesian Revue is a Daly City dance company dedicated to preserving the music and dances of the Polynesian islands.

Although none may have the cachet of a de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park or Getty Center high above the 405, dozens of groups dedicated to the arts and culture dot a map of San Mateo County.

And Robin Rodricks, as the head of the new San Mateo County Office of Arts and Culture, seeks to connect those dots. She sees a thriving arts and culture scene as a powerful force to help the region emerge from the pandemic, both for the economic and emotional recovery.

“All forms of art, whether performing, visual, or literary, contributes to our cultural values and bookmarks our experiences."
Carole Groom, County Supervisor

“The arts are second responders,” Rodricks said. “As we come out of the social isolation from the COVID-19 restrictions on gathering, the arts can help the community heal and grow. We are very much a part of the recovery effort.”

But why invest County resources into what is sometimes seen as a private endeavor?

“San Mateo County believes that the arts are a value that improves the lives of our residents,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom. “All forms of art, whether performing, visual, or literary, contributes to our cultural values and bookmarks our experiences. In opening this office, the County is providing a gathering place for local artists and the art-interested to develop projects that will create beauty, communicate new ideas, and bring communities together.  I am very excited about this!”

Born Amid the Pandemic
In Febrary 2020, the San Mateo County Arts Commission published its strategic plan that includes this statement:

Our vision is that by 2030 San Mateo County is known and recognized as an arts-rich community with diverse and inclusive arts events, programs, and services accessible and equitable to all residents.

With that, many looked forward to what the future would bring.

“A thriving arts and cultural scene is a fundamental element of healthy and thriving communities,” said Supervisor Dave Pine. “The arts enhance our lives, our economy, enhance our civic assets and even give voice to our common triumphs and tragedies.”

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