Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Supporting the arts in Tehama County

For the first time in six years, the third (or, in the beginning, the second) Tuesday of the month is here and I am not attending an arts council meeting. I don't have to feel guilty about NOT going either. I'm no longer on the board, having termed out (two elected three-year terms is the limit).

It feels a little weird, to be honest.

I'm still working with a three-person committee to finalize the group's new website which should be up and live maybe sometime this week, and I'll probably still be involved in updating copy or doing some blog posting. I wrote the copy for the new one, with input from the other committee members.

But I'm merely a member of the group now, not on the board. I'm a passionate arts supporter, but then I was that long before I joined this board, and that won't stop. I'll still attend Artwalk and other sponsored events, I'll still talk to anyone who will listen about the importance of the arts in schools and for our children, I'll happily attend and support most other artsy events in our county and beyond. I create art.

For six years, though, I've had a hand in helping the local arts community to grow, to be recognized and publicized, to offer financial and in-kind support for events and artists. I've had the good fortune to meet so many of the simply outstanding local artists here and to get to know some of them better. I've gotten to write some of their stories for others to read and to help them get the publicity that they need to have but that so many of them are so shy about doing for themselves. It's been a joy, mostly.

The last six years have been difficult ones personally, too. I lost my mother in 2005, just a year after I came on the board and only a month into my first term as chairman of the group. It was a hard, hard year. The group faced some growing pains too, with people rotating off the board or not being able (for a variety of reasons) to participate the way they'd hoped to when they were elected. It left the board -- capped through bylaws at just 15 -- short of people to help vision and then follow through with the work. We had some personality conflicts that caused some hurt feelings and misunderstandings, and it was part of my job to try to help resolution. We lost people to relocation and jobs that ended.

But we also set some guidelines for our ongoing projects that have made those much easier to do. We managed to financially support a number of wonderful programs for the children in our county who are so underserved by arts opportunities, and to help out some artists who needed a boost.

And the new 2010-2011 board is simply stellar. A full 15 members, for the first time since 2004. And members who have business acumen, who are passionate about the arts, who are knowledgeable about the community, and a good mix of artist and supporter.

Thanks largely to one very devoted board member, the group has grant money to help them plan and strategize long range, to create a sustainable, growing organization. And this last year the group was able to offer some $6000 to more than 20 groups and artists to fund projects and events.

And there's a new website about to go live, one that not only looks professional and inviting, but will offer ALL organizations and artists free calendar listings that will spread the word about events and exhibits and classes not only in our own county, but beyond. And FREE artist registry listings that will offer a new way for our marvelous local artists to advertise their talents and services not only locally, but throughout all of northern California.

We think it'll grow into a wonderful artistic resource for Tehama County, one that will help put art and artists right up their with other local products like prunes, walnuts, olives, cattle, and horses.

It'll be live soon. Please keep checking back if you don't see a gallery of art on a background of green.

And no matter where you are, I hope you support the arts in your community.

"Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one."- Stella Adler

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