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Commission draws artists together

New board to hold first meeting Dec. 17

Posted: November 12, 2009 10:05 p.m.
Updated: November 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.

The city's new Arts Commission aims to unify Santa Clarita's broad artistic community - from its local symphony orchestra to its ballet group and artists association, the board's first members said.

A local composer, an animator who drew Scooby-Doo and other Hanna-Barbera characters and a university music instructor are among those the City Council appointed to the five-member commission this week.

"The art scene has been growing incrementally," said commission member Michael Millar, who teaches music at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. "For a city that is just a little over 20 years old, we have had remarkable growth in the arts."

An arts commission is the next logical step in the cultural maturation of the city, Millar said.

The city has a wide spectrum of performing arts organizations, but no single group has ever attempted to unify the arts community, he said.

Commission members' experience and backgrounds are varied, but all have extensive backgrounds in the local arts community.

The commission's first meeting is scheduled for Dec. 17.

Paul Strickland, who was appointed to the commission by Councilwoman Laurene Weste, said he hopes the commission will become a conduit to local schools, opening funding to provide more arts education programs for students.

He has 30 years of animation experience drawing characters as diverse as Yogi Bear and Spider-Man. Strickland, who also serves on the William S. Hart Union School District board, said he is also going to push for programs that benefit at-risk and imprisoned youth.

He said the commission could strengthen partnerships between schools and local businesses as well.

The commission also will open lines of communication directly between the City Council and local arts organizations and artists, said Rick Gould, the city's Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

Staffing the arts commission comes about a decade after local artists first approached the city for help. The City Council narrowly approved the formation of the commission in January by a 3-2 vote.

Mayor Frank Ferry, who voted against forming the commission along with Weste, said at the time while he supported the arts, he couldn't support spending time and money on a new commission while the city was in the midst of a hiring freeze.


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