The California Arts Council has made a commitment to serve arts organizations in the San Joaquin Valley with grant opportunities. This was welcomed by many arts organizations and artists who attended the meeting in Fresno this week.
As an artist, and an arts administrator of a young theater company, I attended this ‘listening’ meeting. I heard praise for CAC. I heard suggestions on how to help artists earn a living wage. As well, there was a consensus that resources for the arts are few in the San Joaquin Valley as compared to bigger California towns.
Also, the meeting brought up the fact that many up-and-coming arts organizations need resources and management training. They reasoned that these resources would help smaller organizations compete for grants with the larger companies.
It’s evident that CAC has attempted to allocate in equity-percentages grants to regions with smaller organizations. I believe that is what helped our Hanford Multicultural Theater Company this past year.
At the ‘listening meeting,’ what impressed me was how about 60% of the audience commented on how the arts saved their lives. One gentleman named Bobby Von Martin, a member of the Choctaw Nation, said his art helped him survive a life with a drug addicted mother. He said he picked up pencils and paper and drew and that helped him survive this trauma filled childhood. His work is so outstanding that one of his native art paintings is hanging in the White House. He said, “Arts help neglected children.”
An Armenian-American woman said that doing art motivated her. She went on to get an education and therapy degree. She says the arts gave her confidence and now she fulfills her life by helping people.
“Don’t Shoot, but Shoot” was what another artist said he used as his grant slogan. He worked with gang members and put a camera in their hands to be creative. He actually convinced gang members that it was better to shoot with film.
The meeting lasted 2 ½ hours. A couple of statements made had me ponde it all the way back to Hanford. They were: “Arts help with self-worth” and “Arts is therapeutic.”
All in all, California Arts Council is a good thing. They were established by the State of California in 1976. They are a state agency with a mission of strengthening arts, culture, and creative expression as the “tools to cultivate a better California for all.” HMTC is glad to be a recipient to CAC grants since 2019.