As a lifelong percussionist, Jason Jong knows the value of having a creative outlet. He grew up performing with the Sacramento Mandarins, a youth drum and bugle corps formed within the city’s Chinese community in 1963. The group has since earned national acclaim, and Jong went on to manage the corps’ professional drumline at Sacramento Kings games for nearly eight years.
Now, as Sacramento’s new cultural and creative economy manager, Jong is uniquely positioned to revive and diversify the city’s creative scene post-COVID. He asks, “How do we make the arts accessible to all? What are we doing to create those systems that encourage it?”
Speaking about the pandemic, Jong said, “It showed that we are interconnected in unexpected ways, and it also showed us the ugly face of racism. It taught us that there are new ways of working and being. … It taught us we need to be more empathetic human beings. That’s also, coincidentally, what art does.”
Part of his job is to oversee the continued investment of Federal American Rescue Plan funds — $10 million dollars in total — that were allocated by the city to reinvigorate the creative economy after the pandemic. A portion of those funds will go to creative-based businesses and cultural nonprofits, providing financial and technical support.