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Bob Kellar: City Arts Commission driving force for local creativity

Posted: July 13, 2012 7:54 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2012 7:54 p.m.

Every day, more than 100,000 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in America act as economic drivers — creating and supporting jobs, generating revenue, and serving as a cornerstone of the tourism industry. If done right, the arts can play a key role in helping to strengthen our nation’s economy.

Our community is blessed to have a wealth of artistic talent. With art-focused schools and nonprofit organizations, including the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of Canyons, Cal Arts, the ARTree Community Arts Center, and Santa Clarita Artists Association, we want to showcase all that’s happening here and provide opportunities for the  growing arts community to thrive. 

That’s why the city’s Arts Commission is so important. Strong cities like Santa Clarita greatly benefit from organizations and programs that inspire creativity and innovation. The five-member Arts Commission includes Paul Strickland, Eric Schmidt, John Dow, Dr. Michael Millar and Susan Shapiro. Each of these representatives serves a valuable role in providing direction to the City Council on investing resources and funding to support the arts.

Since its creation in December 2009, the Arts Commission has championed a variety of arts programming and public art projects for the city of Santa Clarita.  Here are some examples.

Leadership development
Earlier this year, the Arts Commission created an Arts Blueprint, which is a guiding document for the Arts Commission and city leadership to bring attention to key areas in Santa Clarita’s arts community. The detailed plan identifies five focus areas, including public art, arts education, arts venues, marketing and communications, and leadership and development.

Using, creating public art
The arts in public places area focuses on art in the community and the processes by which art pieces are developed and selected. Since its formation, the commission has helped guide the development of recently completed projects, such as trail sculptures, murals at the Aquatic Center and Golden Valley Bridge. It also had a key role in selecting future public art projects for trails, Santa Clarita Transit, Central Park and Old Town

The Arts Blueprint has also provided guidance on arts venues, including arts exhibit programs in Santa Clarita. The Arts Commission has aided in the development and implementation of an arts exhibit program, which currently includes rotating shows at the various exhibit sites throughout the year.

Now, local artists can have creations displayed at prominent areas in Santa Clarita, including the First Floor Gallery at City Hall, Community Wall and Space #135 at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.  

Support the arts
Another focal point of the Arts blueprint is arts education, which is dedicated to supporting the arts in schools and building relations with artists and educators. The Arts Commission has helped Santa Clarita create programs that engage the community and increase exposure of local artists and organizations.

One of the ways the city recognizes the arts community is through monthly arts spotlights and recognitions at Arts Commission meetings, which are held on the second Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers.
Additionally, the Commission collaborates with the College of the Canyons Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center to allow local arts groups to use the facility.

Another way the city supports the arts community is through its annual Arts Grants Program. The Arts Commission provides grant recommendations to the City Council for local nonprofit organizations that are adding new programming or increasing opportunities for residents to experience the arts in our community. This year, eight local nonprofit organizations were chosen to support innovative programs and projects that serve our community.

Accessibility to local arts and programs helps to make the City of Santa Clarita a great place to live. Our Arts Commission is looking to the future of the arts in Santa Clarita.  Look for the next phase of the Arts Blueprint, which will address the areas of advocacy and civic engagement, economic development, funding and the Newhall arts and entertainment district.

The city recognizes the important work being done by the members of the Arts Commission and countless others in our community. It’s an honor to support their efforts and recognize their many contributions.  

Bob Kellar is a Santa Clarita City Councilmember and can be reached at: [email protected]


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