San Mateo Fosters Both Fine Arts and Performing Arts

By Michaela Jackson on May 4, 2011 at 8:01 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Ian Curcio

San Mateo is not an especially big city, but you’d never know that by the breadth of its cultural offerings.

In 1996, the city council established City Arts of San Mateo to enrich the community through the arts. Immediately, the non-profit was off and running, and the city hasn’t looked back.

Sculpture San Mateo, a subset of the group, brought Dancers, a sculpture by Michele Alcantara, to the community in 2004 through a sculpture on loan program with artists across the country. The city fell in love with the piece, and City Arts of San Mateo spearheaded a fundraising effort to purchase the statue. Dancers became a permanent fixture of the community in 2005.

Another initiative by City Arts of San Mateo is the City Hall Civic Gallery, which gives artists the opportunity to share their art with the public and exposes the community to new art on a monthly basis.

San Mateo is also a center of excellence for the performing arts. The San Mateo Performing Arts Center, next to San Mateo High School, is the largest auditorium between San Francisco and Santa Fe with 1,600 seats.

Children in the city are introduced to the arts early through the Performing Arts for Youth Society. PAYS presents symphony, opera, theater and dance performances to children from local schools, along with providing study guides to teachers designed to maximize the students’ experiences. More than 28,000 students see PAYS performances each year.

Many museums and historic sites are also scattered through San Mateo. The San Mateo County Historical Museum and the Coyote Point Museum honor the heritage and environment of San Mateo, and lovers of history and architecture appreciate the Ernest Coxhead House and the historic San Mateo Main Post Office and the National Bank of San Mateo.

Annual festivals in San Mateo include the Immigrants Day Festival, the College of San Mateo Jazz Festival and the Lunar New Year Festival.

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