ZERO1 – Challenge Semi-Finalist

A view of the ZERO1 Biennial exhibition.
A view of the ZERO1 Biennial exhibition.

Our adaptive challenge

Because Silicon Valley is fueled by innovation, collaboration and creativity, ZERO1 needs to establish the ZERO1 Garage as an interface to engage Silicon Valley companies, thereby relating the nonprofit and for-profit sectors in a unique partnership-based model intended to generate sustainable revenue stream for ZERO1.

Why it is important that our organization address this challenge, and why now?

The ZERO1 Garage represents a new operational model reflective of our commitment to collaborate with Silicon Valley industry and cultural partners. We achieved solid milestones of success in the Biennial and opening of the Garage. We must address the challenge of public/private investment in ZERO1 going forward, otherwise the organization will fail. Part of that evolution requires development of a funding bridge until the new model is fully realized. We are seeking feedback on the return on investment value as it relates to the innovation and the incubation platform of the ZERO1 Garage, and are hopeful that crowdsourcing will provide us a diversity of external insights from thought leadership, enabling us to further hone messaging and evolve the model.

What are the foundational assumptions that have reliably predicted success in the past that we are now questioning?

ZERO1 has evolved from largely an event-based producing organization to one that conducts programming on a year round basis; the transition also involves reframing the ZERO1 Biennial as a revenue generator to support operations. With the launch of the ZERO1 Garage, the business model also evolved as part of the organization’s growth. We assumed it would take approximately 6 months to build a corporate membership base to fund general operations; however, corporations were more inclined towards customized memberships with varying layers of engagement in ZERO1 programs. While we were aware of this from the onset, developing partnerships (that are unique, yet adhere to standardized structure and benefits) is now a more complicated undertaking.

What is the evidence that is causing us to question our assumptions?

Although the ZERO1 Garage has been operational for 6 months, building of the corporate membership base has taken a longer cultivation process than expected, causing us to question the messaging of the value proposition and its relevance to corporations.

The ZERO1 Garage is both a platform for exhibition and incubation of new creative strategies informing innovation challenges co-defined by ZERO1 and the partner. The question is: how do we best articulate the relationship between public and private sector collaboration within this framework? It is essential for us to articulate what the value add is, and clarify the contribution back to the partner’s business model.

What are the bold new directions we are imagining for our organization?

ZERO1 is envisioned as a portal to Silicon Valley’s creativity for both the public and private sectors. We are envisioning a portfolio comprising of free and admission-based year round programming that engages both including the Biennial, year-round exhibitions, artists talk series, workshops, symposia, and access to the ZERO1 Fellowship program. This would serve to establish a sustainable revenue path for the organization that is supported by admission revenue and ROI provided to corporate partners in terms of innovation impact.

Our vision of success

Success for ZERO1 includes a robust network of corporate members achieving a membership consortium of strategic alliances through which we can leverage investment, expertise and assets; establish a sustainable revenue stream; and build a healthy cash reserve.

ZERO1 is striving to be:

  1. a new model for the arts that utilizes private/ public collaborations; and
  2. a creative place making agent by being an anchor institution in downtown San Jose’s SoFA District.

We propose to invigorate the cultural scene in Silicon Valley, enhance efforts in furthering San Jose as a vibrant community and destination; and develop social practice/public art projects that attract new cultural patrons and external investments.

A view of the ZERO1 Garage.
A view of the ZERO1 Garage.
ZERO1 produces the ZERO1 Biennial; a showcase of exhibitions, public art and performances that brings provocative works from a global community of cutting edge artists to Silicon Valley. Historically, we’ve engaged a wide public audience via the Biennial. With the advent of the ZERO1 Garage, we now have a physical presence in San Jose’s SoFA district. The ZERO1 Garage hosts year-round programming such as exhibitions, artist talks, and symposia, and our Fellowship Program, all dedicated to inspiring innovation that is socially impactful. 65% of our audience hail from Santa Clara county; 50% are between ages of 25 and 44; 39% are between ages of 45 and 66; 50% work in the arts; 28% work in the technology sector, and there is an even 50:50 male/female split.