SJMA Begins New Outreach Initiative Funded by $275k Grant from Irvine Foundation

Release date 
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

San Jose Museum of Art’s new project will engage the Vietnamese community through a mobile art studio at public venues.

SAN JOSE, California (February 14, 2017)— When the annual San Jose Tet Festival, the celebration of the Lunar New Year and Vietnamese culture, took place at Yerba Buena High School Campus in San Jose this past weekend, the San Jose Museum of Art participated for the first time. SJMA’s education staff hosted a booth with a hands-on artmaking activity inspired by the Year of the Rooster and Rory Padeken, associate curator, was a judge for the festival’s photography contest. These small steps are the first in SJMA’s new initiative to engage the city’s large Vietnamese-American community. The Museum recently received a $275,000 grant from The James Irvine Foundation to support the project.

The impetus for the project is the recognition that while SJMA has seen significantly increased attendance from the local Chinese, South Asian, and Latino populations since 2010, its success at serving the Vietnamese community has lagged behind. To address this gap, SJMA has begun a two-year effort to engage Vietnamese audiences beyond the Museum’s walls by creating a mobile art studio that will attract multi-generational people at festivals, shopping malls, and libraries within the Vietnamese community. Based on SJMA’s popular community days, the mobile art studio will support a variety of pop-up visual, literary, and performing arts activities by Vietnamese artisans. These events will include lectures, demonstrations, and workshops by traditional artists such as ceramicists, musicians, brush painters, and poets as well as contemporary artists. Demonstrations will be accompanied by related hands-on activities. The 2017 Tet Festival activities served as an early test for possible programming.

The project will kick off in earnest this spring when SJMA will convene an advisory committee led by Thang Do, a San Jose architect who serves on SJMA’s board of trustees, and community focus groups. In the summer of 2017, SJMA will hire a bilingual project coordinator. The committee will identify locations for off-site events and to identify and select Vietnamese artists, performers, and artisans to conduct demonstrations. Materials at the events and at the Museum will be available in Vietnamese. Open houses featuring Vietnamese art and entertainment are planned at the Museum in fall 2017 and spring 2018.

Community partners and advisors on the project include the Children’s Discovery Museum (recognized for its outreach to the Vietnamese Community), The Friends of Hue Foundation, Santa Clara Vietnamese Student Association, Rising Phoenix Lion Dance Association, San Jose Public Library, and Viet Museum.

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, non-profit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful, and inclusive society. The Foundation’s grantmaking focuses on expanding economic and political opportunity for families and young adults who are working but struggling with poverty. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided over $1.5 billion in grants to more than 3,600 nonprofit organizations throughout California.



The San Jose Museum of Art celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connection with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the Museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time. SJMA is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, California. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM and until 8 PM or later on the third Thursday of each month. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for students, and $5 for youth ages 7 - 18. Members and children are admitted free. For more information, call 408-271-6840 or visit

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Programs at the San Jose Museum of Art are made possible be generous support from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, The Lipman Family Foundation, and a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José.