The Field Guide to Community Service
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
— Pablo Picasso
There are many ways you can support the artistic community in Silicon Valley, whether it’s by attending a performance, volunteering at an event or sponsoring an artist. There are dozens of nonprofits that rely on volunteer support to thrive, so take a peek and see where you could make a difference.
Grab some friends and go to the monthly South First Fridays gallery crawl in downtown San Jose.
Attend a movie during Cinequest, an independent film festival that takes place annually in February or March.
Subscribe to Content magazine for the latest in the area’s art and design scene.
Buy gifts at Kaleid, an artists’ co-op at 320 S. First St. in downtown San Jose.
Local theaters need volunteers. City Lights needs help with parking and concessions and Tabard Theatre has loads of opportunities, from working backstage and on costumes to building sets and staffing the box office.
Sponsor the painting of a utility box through San Jose, Campbell or Los Gatos and help brighten up our community one street corner at a time.
There are many opportunities to volunteer at Villa Montalvo, from education and outreach volunteers to fundraising.
Sponsor a musician, a concert, a conductor, the Chorale, or an education program for an underserved school through Symphony Silicon Valley.
Join the board of a nonprofit arts organization or serve on a public committee, commission or grants panel.
Consider adding an arts organization in your estate planning and create your own cultural legacy.
Abhinaya Dance Co. of San Jose
Abhinaya educates dancers in South Indian classical dance and conducts performances to share the art form with the community.
Angels on Stage enhances the lives of children and young adults with special needs by breaking down stereotypes and empowering them to develop friendships, independence, confidence, self-esteem and life skills through the performing arts.
BAGI provides accessible, hands-on glass art experiences that educate and inspire current and future generations of patrons, students and artists.
California Youth Symphony provides talented young musicians with musical experience and the opportunity for personal growth through the training and performance of symphonic music at the highest level.
Cashion Cultural Legacy works to sustain the preservation, presentation and education of Mexican folk culture through dance.
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose inspires creativity, curiosity and lifelong learning through hands-on activities and exhibits.
CMT San Jose trains and educates youth through musical theater to enable them to achieve their artistic and personal goals, and to inspire them to become exemplary artists, patrons and citizens of tomorrow.
Christmas in the Park is a free annual holiday tradition in downtown San Jose that transforms Plaza De Cesar Chavez into a holiday fantasy with decorated trees, animated exhibits, and performances by local music and dance groups.
Cinequest is an annual film festival in San Jose that fuses innovation with the arts to empower great creations and to connect audiences, youth, artists and innovators with these creations and with each other.
City Lights creates provocative live productions that engage, inspire, and challenge audiences and artists through innovative concepts, intimate staging and uncompromising storytelling.
City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs
The Office of Cultural Affairs is the champion of San Jose’s artistic and cultural vibrancy, resources and vision.
The College of Adaptive Arts provides a lifelong, equitable collegiate experience for adults with special needs who historically have not had access to a college education.
Community School of Music and Arts
CSMA inspires excellence through art and music education for people of all ages and abilities.
The Crayon Initiative recycles used and unwanted crayons to preserve our environment and enrich the lives of hospitalized children through art and imagination.
CreaTV is a member-based, nonprofit media center that works to inspire, educate and connect San Jose communities, using media to foster civic engagement.
The Friends of Levitt San Jose has one mission: 50 free, family-friendly concerts each year in historic St. James Park to bring people together and invigorate community life.
Local Color is a women-owned and operated organization that works to build economic opportunities at the intersection of art and community development. The organization employs local artists to execute a variety of projects ranging from interior mural commissions and signage to public space activation programs, such as live painting and spray painting classes.
Montalvo Arts Center works to engage the public in the creative process, and advance different cultural and cross-cultural perspectives. The organization creates and presents arts of all types, nurtures artists and uses its historic property in innovative ways.
MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana is an inclusive contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience that incubates new visual, literary and performance art to engage people in civic dialogue and community transformation.
Naatak, America’s biggest Indian theater company, is dedicated to producing intelligent and entertaining plays.
Opera Cultura is an opera company that explores the Latinx-Hispanic cultural experience through music theater and opera, while providing opportunities for the community to participate as creators, learners and performers.
Opera San Jose is a professional, regional company that specializes in showcasing the finest young professional singers in the nation. The organization maintains extensive educational programs in schools.
Palo Alto Players creates exceptional theater experiences that inspire, entertain and enrich the lives of our local artists and audiences.
The Peninsula Symphony works to enrich the lives of people in our community with inspiring, innovative, high-quality musical presentations at affordable prices, and to promote music education through engaging programs for children and adults. Bridges to Music, Peninsula Symphony’s education and outreach program, brings live music into schools, libraries, senior facilities, public and private events, and more.
PWC is a 50-voice women’s choir that performs high-quality classical and contemporary music. The chorus envisions a future as a vibrant music-making community where women collaborate to create transcendent musical moments beyond their imaginations.
RWC works to develop musical excellence in an atmosphere of mutual support and respect. The chorus performs publicly for the entertainment, education and cultural enrichment of the community.
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum is an educational institution that aims to increase knowledge about the past, present and future, especially related to the diversity and relationships in nature and among cultures.
SV Creates is a network of leaders who care about the cultural and aesthetic quality of life in Silicon Valley. The organization accelerates Silicon Valley’s creative culture through its partners, programs and publications.
San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
The ICA is an energetic art space dedicated to making contemporary art accessible and engaging to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
San Jose Jazz celebrates jazz as a dynamic, evolving art form and preserves the jazz tradition while actively supporting the next generation of performers within the genre and beyond. It produces the annual San Jose Jazz Summer Fest and Winter Fest.
San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild
SJMAG is a diverse, professional, cross-cultural arts organization that serves the community by presenting traditional and contemporary performing arts.
Through its exhibitions, programs, scholarship and collections, the museum connects the present and the past, the art of the West Coast and the world. The museum fosters awareness of artists’ broad contributions to society and engages audiences with the art of our time and the vitality of the creative process.
San Jose Museum of Textiles & Quilts
The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles shares and celebrates the art and culture of textiles. It is dedicated to showcasing the most cutting-edge quilts and fiber art, while also honoring textile traditions.
Through powerful, provocative, and profound theatre, The Stage seeks to expand community, forge creative partnerships and challenge individuals in order to illuminate the human condition.
San Jose Taiko is a Japanese-American drumming and rhythm organization that creates innovative performances and comprehensive education programs, empowering diverse voices and educating across cultures to build a more accepting and activated world.
The San Jose Youth Symphony gives young people a foundation for life through orchestral music. The symphony creates programs that assure young musicians achieve technical proficiency, musical knowledge and an emotional connection to music. It strives to make each performance uplifting, spirited and exciting.
School of Arts & Culture at MHP
The School of Arts and Culture at MHP (Mexican Heritage Plaza) catalyzes creativity and empowers community through arts education, community engagement, leadership development and placemaking.
The Silicon Valley Arts Coalition was founded in 2001 by arts enthusiasts seeking to broaden the appeal and participation in the arts. SVAC has 13 member organizations, representing various art forms.
Silicon Valley Blues Society works to promote, inspire and engage blues music, in order to preserve and expand the musical heritage relevant to the history of blues music and the artists within our community.
South Bay Guitar Society promotes and presents classical and related guitar styles to people of all cultures, ages, abilities and economic means and provides performance opportunities to professional and amateur musicians.
Steinway Society, The Bay Area
Steinway Society promotes excellence in piano performance and music education in the Bay Area. The organization brings world-class, internationally recognized pianists to Silicon Valley, the Peninsula and South Bay, arranges in-home recitals reminiscent of 19th century salon concerts and contributes to music education for youth.
Symphony Silicon Valley is a professional symphony orchestra founded in 2002. In addition to its regular subscription concerts, the symphony produces free outreach programs for thousands of children each season. It also performs for community events, ranging from San Jose State University's 150th Anniversary Gala Concert to concerts featuring music and visuals from popular video games.
Tabard provides live entertainment experiences that are enlightening, appropriate and affordable for audiences of all ages, championing unique works in an inclusive environment, with educational programs and altruistic outreach to the underserved.
Teatro Visión creates theater rooted in Chicanx and Latinx experiences to inspire the people of Santa Clara Valley and beyond to feel, think and act to create a better world.
Vivace Youth Chorus of San Jose provides young singers with the means and opportunities to experience and share the power and poetry of song.
We Players presents site-integrated performance events that transform public spaces into realms of participatory theater. They bring communities together, reclaiming local spaces for public discourse and civic celebration through art.
Works is a nonprofit, all-volunteer, community art and performance center in downtown San Jose.
ZERO1 is a nonprofit arts organization that aims to address complex social challenges by producing community-driven emerging media and digital art projects. The organization believes that artistic experimentation with emergent technologies inspires novel creative strategies and broadens our critical understanding of the world.
Attend an arts exhibit.
Go listen to a local band play.
Honor everyone’s holidays.
Try something outside your comfort zone.
Purchase gifts from a museum gift store, which helps support these important cultural institutions.
This Field Guide chapter was edited by Ella Olender.
Ella graduated Pioneer High School in 2022 and is attending West Valley College.
When she isn’t editing the Field Guide, she likes to spend her time drawing, painting, playing guitar and video games. Ella volunteers with BioSITE, a program at Pioneer where she enjoys teaching 4th graders about the environment.