If Vickie Scott Grove can accomplish anything in her new role as executive director of the Community School of Music and Arts, she said she hopes it will be to help as many children as possible gain access to the arts.
Grove, who took the reins of CSMA on Aug. 5, said she grew up in a solidly middle-class family. She never felt rich or privileged as a child. But looking back, Grove said she counts herself fortunate to have had a chance to sing, play music, draw and paint.
"I assumed that most children had those opportunities," Grove said, noting that plenty of children -- even in the ostensibly affluent Silicon Valley -- don't have the same access she had.
The more she can do to improve access to music and the arts for low-income children the better, Grove said. Her first goal is to expand the school's reach, especially in the most under-served areas of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.
Grove comes to CSMA after serving as vice president of ALearn -- a non-profit focused on helping under-represented students. Before that, she served as executive director at Child Advocates of Silicon Valley.
Over the course of her career, Grove said she has seen firsthand how music and art can make a difference in children's lives. She has seen it engage otherwise shy or uninterested kids in lessons, and she said the arts have the power to spur creativity in ways other subjects cannot, which is especially important in an area such as Silicon Valley.
"The valley is all about critical thinking, creativity and innovation, and that's what we do," Grove said of CSMA.
In addition to having an appreciation for the arts and their importance in fueling creative thinking, Grove said she is bringing other strengths to the table -- in particular, experience and a strong track record managing nonprofits, and an understanding of how to raise money in Silicon Valley.
The area is "very sophisticated from a funder and donor perspective," Grove said, explaining that in order to run a successful fundraising campaign for CSMA, she will have to articulate exactly what it is investors are putting their money into and also what they can expect to get out of it.
Investing in what CSMA has to offer -- art galleries, live performances, music classes at their Mountain View campus and in public and private schools around Silicon Valley -- isn't going to result in a monetary return in the way funding a start-up tech company might. Investing in CSMA is going to yield social returns, she said.
"I think it brings us to the fundamental question: What is the value of an arts education?" Grove said.
Children who are exposed to art at a younger age have a chance to live a more fulfilling life, she said -- they are likely to grow into more creative, nuanced adults. "In order to have a quality workforce, our education system must include the arts," she said, noting that the arts are inspiring and that every great idea stemmed from some sort of inspiration.
Equally as important, the arts lend meaning to people's lives outside of the office, she said, noting that for her mother, perhaps the most "enjoyable and pleasurable" part of her day is when she sits down at her piano.
"The arts allow us to be fully human," Grove said.
In the coming weeks, Grove and her team at CSMA will begin working on plans to expand the school's reach. The new director is planning to meet the community during CSMA's annual open house on Sunday, Aug. 25, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the school's Finn Center, located at 230 San Antonio Circle in Mountain View. For information, go to arts4all.org.