Blog Posts for California

More Than Cash - A Corporation Boldly Support the Arts

Posted by Michelle Mann, Nov 15, 2011 0 comments

Michelle Mann

As the former Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Adobe, employees often shared with me their passion for giving back. More than just helping at the food bank once in awhile, they sought to spend time in the nonprofit sector, to make a difference.

Recently, I’ve had an opportunity to do exactly that and I’d like to share with you my experiences and view of the arts from a corporate perspective.

For the past six months, I have been a loaned executive to 1st ACT Silicon Valley, a catalytic organization whose mission is to inspire leadership, participation, and investment at the intersection of art, creativity, and technology.

Adobe’s former CEO, Bruce Chizen, had been a founding board member of 1st ACT in 2007 and the Adobe Foundation has supported the organization’s efforts to increase the vibrancy of Downtown San Jose (Adobe's headquarters) and support the arts ecosystem.

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Driving the Length of Forever: An Act of Educated Discovery

Posted by Erin Harkey, Nov 11, 2011 0 comments

Erin Harkey

Started in 2002, as an alternative to mainstream gallery culture, High Desert Test Sites (HDTS) explores the connections between site, art and life.

Situated in the desert communities surrounding Joshua Tree, the biannual event produces a series of site-specific installations in the Mojave Desert. Belonging to no one and everyone at the same time, each project’s life cycle is inextricably linked to the site itself.

Intrigued by this year’s roster of artists, I ventured with a friend on a two-hour road trip from Los Angeles to check it out.

The map to the sites we picked up at the HDTS headquarters instructed us to “drive forever” on Route 62. To help us find our way, we relied on the tracks of the cars before us, the unreliable GPS on our phones, and the occasional hidden HDTS sign with a quiet arrow. As we drove, we were fascinated with the number of deserted buildings.

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Feast of Words: Evolving Participation & Connecting Communities

Posted by Lex Leifheit, Nov 10, 2011 0 comments

Caron Atlas’ post about People’s Potlucks inspired me to write about my own experiment in food, community, and art, Feast of Words: A Literary Potluck. Co-founded with Irina Zadov, Feast of Words is a monthly event where people come together to eat, write and share.

Feast of Words is one year old, and since the beginning it has simultaneously been about bringing communities together and expressing, creatively, what sets them apart.

It was a spontaneous idea—Irina had hosted a dinner party where people shared their creative work and was looking for a “third place” that combined art making with the comfort of a shared meal. I had been attending literary readings, looking for one that was a good fit for SOMArts, which is a multidisciplinary arts space and cultural center.

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Helping to Define a Sense of Place in Communities

Posted by Tatiana Hernandez, Nov 09, 2011 1 comment

Tatiana Hernandez

People have looked to the arts to help define their communities and create a sense of place for generations. So, why are we so excited about creative placemaking today?

Perhaps it has something to do with context. In this digital world, many are reexamining the fundamental nature of “community” and our relationship to place. We now know, based on findings from the Knight Soul of the Community report, that social offerings, followed by openness and aesthetics explain why we love where we live. What does that tell us about the essential importance of our connection to place?

“Vibrancy” is popping up as a way of describing the intangible nature of a neighborhood’s character. Here are three projects working to help define a sense of place in each of their communities:

Philadelphia has a strong tradition of mural work, and thanks to Mural Arts, artists and residents continue to come together to help define “home.” As part of their Knight Arts Challenge project, Mural Arts brought two Dutch artists, Haas&Hahn, to North Philadelphia to live, work, and engage the community around a large-scale mural that will span several blocks of Germantown Avenue.

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Back to the Future (Part One)

Posted by Erik Takeshita, Nov 07, 2011 1 comment

Erik Takeshita

We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We have a responsibility to those who will come after us.  

These simple yet powerful concepts have been echoing in my head the past few days in New Mexico where I participated in a roundtable discussion held at the Institute of American Indian Arts sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, First People’s Fund, and Arts and Democracy Project. The people I met and the stories I heard reinforced the power of the arts – and more importantly culture – in transforming our communities.

Six case studies were presented at the roundtable: KUYI Hopi radio (Hopi Nation), Jikaat Kwaan Heritage Center (Alaska), Penn Center (South Carolina), Tamejavi Festival (Central Valley, California), STAY Project (Appalachia) and Cornerstone Theater (Los Angeles).

Despite the differences in geographic location, populations or medium, these exemplars all shared common elements: they were place-based, holistic approaches that engaged both youth and elders, and, perhaps most importantly, put culture at the center.

Place-based: When in New Mexico, it is obvious that place matters. This is, of course, true everywhere. Place informs who we are, how we act, our thinking, our relationships. Place is more that just a setting, but rather is an active participant that informs what can and should be done.

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What Can We Do...Now? Cultural Asset Mapping in Los Angeles County

Posted by Erin Harkey, Nov 07, 2011 0 comments

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission was recently awarded a grant through the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town initiative to produce a cultural asset map in the unincorporated community of Willowbrook, CA.

Located just south of Watts and west of Compton, Project Willowbrook: Cultivating a Healthy Community through Arts and Culture will capitalize on the county’s over $600 million investment in health services and infrastructure. This includes the Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Medical Center Campus Master Plan and the Wilmington Streetscape Plan that will link the campus to the nearby Rosa Parks Metro Station.

The arts commission and primary project partner LA Commons will use community engagement activities to identify artists, organizations, programs, and artworks, with the understanding that “art” and “culture” should capture both the formal and informal ways that people engage, this information will be compiled in a final report. The report will provide recommendations on long-term, sustainable strategies that will integrate art into development and achieve overall community objectives.

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