Monterey County Gives! 2011 - Pt. 2
Arts & Culture
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Alisal Center for the Fine Arts
Year Founded: 1986
Staff: 11 paid, 60 volunteers
The Big Idea: A recent study by IBM asked more than 1,500 CEOs and public sector leaders in 60 nations what they considered the most important quality for success in business leadership. Their answer: creativity, which beat out integrity and global thinking. The Alisal Center for the Fine Arts, offering free dance, music and visual arts classes and shows for 25 years, understands this, and its Big Idea touches on all of these things: arts, creativity and building a stronger business community. Self-Empowerment Through the Arts: Building the Creative Economy in East Salinas will mobilize students and staff to teach skills needed to train local youth and their families to produce, advertise and promote four professional, multi-discipline community performances and art exhibits. The students and staff will do everything from stage design, lighting and costuming to poster design, marketing and video and sound production. The community gets art shows and performances, which bring money and people to east Salinas, and local kids learn skills that will prepare them for jobs in the arts and beyond.
Building Blocks: “ACFA enabled me to get my Fine Arts degree from San Diego State and come back to work to build a healthier community.”
Arts Council for Monterey County
Year Founded: 1982
Staff: 4 paid, 30 volunteers
The Big Idea: The Arts Council’s Big Idea is a big production, complete with a Grammy-winning producer. “One Voice/One Planet – The Musical,” an original 60-minute bilingual English/Spanish multidisciplinary show, will incorporate the work of five Monterey County artists-in-residence in collaboration with 150 residents at five of CHISPA’s affordable housing developments. The musical will touch on identity, community and stewardship of the earth, and Grammy award-winning songwriter Orlando Castro will produce it. Schools and community groups will be able to see the show for free. “One Voice/One Planet” builds on the Arts Council’s previous successes: “Mi Vida/Mi Pueblo: My Life/MyTown” became a mixed-media exhibition incorporating poetry and visual art of farmworkers reflecting on the beauty of their daily lives. And “Mi Planeta/My Planet became a mixed media and multimedia exhibition incorporating climate science and visual art.” With “One Voice/One Planet,” the nonprofit wants to expand on these concepts, grow its partnerships and reach more people in the community.
Street Art: “This work helps us implement our strategic priority to provide meaningful, high impact, high quality arts programming to residents in areas of our county with little access to the arts in their own neighborhoods and schools.”
Carmel Mission Foundation
Year Founded: 2008
Staff: 1 paid, 21 volunteers
The Big Idea: What to do on a Sunday afternoon in the 1830s to 1880s? Grab your horse and (empty) buckboard, ride over to Carmel’s abandoned mission, steal as many roof tiles as would fit in your buckboard, cart them back to Monterey and retile your roof. At the time, Spain and Mexico and then Mexico and the U.S. were fighting over the land and the mission sat empty. It did eventually get a new roof but not until the 1936, during the Great Depression, which was also the last time the community put any significant money into repairing the old building. The mission’s library is the oldest in California, its art and artifacts need to be preserved for future generations and yes, it’s time for some roof work. The Carmel Mission Foundation’s goal is to raise $3.6 million; to date, it has raised $1.5 million.
Living History: “It’s the second largest tourist draw on the Peninsula, it’s the most photographed, the most painted building around. It is a religious institution, but that’s a small part. If there was an earthquake, the religious services would continue in the gym, but the history would be gone.”
Colleagues of the Arts
Year Founded: 1998
Staff: 2 paid, 33 volunteers
The Big Idea: It started with a French horn. Colleagues Of The Arts bought the instrument for the teen as he prepared for college. His parents, strawberry pickers, supported the family of six on $6,000 a year and didn’t have money to buy the horn. Gang members killed his brother. Now he’s at the University of Long Beach on a full scholarship studying music composition and being wooed by graduate programs. He’s been featured on NPR and played with the National Youth Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. The nonprofit has awarded more than $500,000 to date, and the funding covers private lessons, workshops, program expenses, auditions, instruments and supplies for youth up to age 25. In 2012, COTA wants to continue funding its Student Awards Program and give financial assistance to other budding musicians, actors, dancers, visual artists and writers.
Sad Songs: “Without private lessons, a young musician would be at a loss. Equipment for string instruments are very costly and the help I received enabled me to keep playing in a youth orchestra.”
Dance Kids of Monterey County
Year Founded: 1993
Staff: 1 paid, 99 volunteers
The Bid Idea: Dance Kids plans a new spin on an old holiday favorite, The Nutcracker, which its students have performed each December for the past 17 years. In 2012, a Latino/Folkloric Nutcracker Suite will diversify Dance Kids’ annual production, partnering with schools and organizations in the Salinas Valley to provide a venue and new audience to view a Latino/Aztec Folkloric version of the holiday ballet. The production will travel to schools, hospitals and nursing homes, and students, seniors, community groups and others will receive free tickets. This, in turn, will allow Dance Kids to offer enrollment and scholarships (for classes, production tuition and dance clothes) to more students in need – maybe the next Rat King or Sugar Plum Fairy (or their folklorico counterpart) has yet to see the Christmastime classic.
On Pointe: “Our goal is to improve our community life by fostering growth qualities in young people including discipline, self-esteem, group problem solving and the ability to carry tasks to completion and also to expose as many community members as possible to the beauty and wonder of dance and theater.”
Year Founded: 1984
Staff: 1 paid, 220 volunteers
The Big Idea: A report titled “The Sound of Silence,” authored by Music for All, a national music education organization, found that between 1999 and 2004, while California public school student population increased, music classes and teachers dramatically declined, more than any other subject area. Dixieland Monterey’s Big Idea will help bring the sound of music back to local students. In 2012, the nonprofit’s Elderly Instrument Rescue Project will make refurbished jazz band instruments available to musically inclined children of economically challenged families countywide, at no cost. The group will ask for donations of elderly instruments needing repair or upkeep and either fund professional repairs or finish simple refurbishment with trained volunteers. The big picture links kids, instruments and teachers, and some students will get involved with Dixieland Monterey’s clinic programs focused on traditional jazz as the underpinning of modern jazz, the blues, musical theater and popular music.
Louder, Please: “As music continues to fade from public school curricula, providing instruments to worthy students is crucial if music is to be brought into students’ lives during their formative years.”
Ensemble Monterey Chamber Orchestra
Year Founded: 1992
Staff: 1 paid, 75 volunteers
The Big Idea: Ensemble Monterey Chamber Orchestra’s Big Idea is… a joke. But considering the merry pranksters – a chamber orchestra with a whimsical, adventurous twist – it makes sense, and makes us want to attend. In 2012, EMCO will present “April Fools!”, two concerts on March 31 and April 1 that showcase its single most requested lineup in the group’s 20-year history: the great bargain-counter tenor, Benzino Gassolini, starring in P.D.Q. Bach’s immortal masterpiece, Iphigenia in Brooklyn. And what would a concert be without the “Royal Firewater Music,” the “Concerto Grosso for Cell Phones and Candy Wrappers,” and of course, Teddy the Wonder Dog in Mack Sennett’s Teddy at the Throttle? Laughing yet? Show up for April Fool’s and you will be.
Musical Journey: “Our work can be categorized as legacy, learning and leadership. In addition, we provide employment for local professional musicians and empower them to stretch their skills by playing adventurous, innovative and difficult music.”
Forest Theater Guild
Year Founded: 1910
Staff: 65 volunteers
The Big Idea: Carmel’s original bohemian community theater group has two Big Ideas, both of which take the nonprofit back to its roots and bring visitors – and tourism dollars – to the community. Drama Girls will focus on women’s mentorship training for young women by partnering with local high school drama programs, arts organization, libraries and museums to present its productions via “traveling troupes.” The second program, History Theater, will showcase local talent with portraiture performances from the area’s historic past. This will also be presented on the Forest Theater’s stage and travel to schools, libraries and community centers. Monterey Business Council wants to support the project through its clusters program. Both new programs will provide education and arts training to more than 150,000 students in the tri-county region, bring tourists to the area (which means more dollars spent in local communities), create jobs for artists and spread the word about the county’s rich arts history and culture.
No More Starving Artists: “Education and youth training and appreciation for the arts benefit Monterey County by our success, both in quality of life and for our financial sustainability as an arts and culture travel destination for visitors.”
Monterey Bay Symphony
Year Founded: 1985
Staff: 22 volunteers
The Big Idea: The symphony often calls to mind ball gowns, tuxes and up-turned noses. It’s not a cheap pastime to perform with 40-plus musicians – unless we’re talking about the Monterey Bay Symphony, which offers free concerts for the entire region. In 2011, the nonprofit presented seven programs to more than 16,000 audience members (that’s compared to three in 2010). In 2012, the “People’s Community Professional Orchestra” wants to expand its outreach even further, offering 10 concerts and pushing its performances into the Salinas Valley and South County. And – as is always a smart move when donations are tight and local arts organizations are all competing for the same dollars – it plans to partner with other groups like Youth Music Monterey, Community Partnership for Youth and Dance Kids of Monterey County, providing for example, a new live music experience for Dance Kid’s annual Nutcracker production.
Music for Tots (and Everyone Else): “Our Christmas for Kids concert in December will benefit under-served families and children plus the Salvation Army. Our intention is to expand our programming in 2012 to serve our community even more.”
Monterey Peninsula Community Gospel Choir
Year Founded: 2008
The Big Idea: MPGCC’s Living Legends workshops allow the community to learn about the history of gospel music from a living legend who shares the art of writing music. Workshop participants learn songs and the stories behind the songs, as well as how to sing the songs in a gospel choir. At the end of the workshop, participants perform the songs with the living legend at a free community concerts. This year, MPGCC brought Richard Smallwood to Monterey. Some 75 people attended the workshops and more than 400 came to the evening performance. The nonprofit hopes to top this and bring another internationally renowned artist here in 2012.
The Power of the Gospel: “Singing with MPGCC has helped me meet people from all walks of life and from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. I have enjoyed learning the history and culture of gospel music.”
Monterey County Composer’s Forum
Year Founded: 2001
Staff: 18 volunteers
The Big Idea: Local composers need publicity and a forum where they can present new works, local charities need donations, and the community needs free, live music. Monterey County Composer’s Forum’s Big Idea covers all of these bases with its composer’s master class, a day-long master class for local composers of all ages and abilities who wish to develop their music composition skills and contribute to the arts community in Monterey County. The all-volunteer organization will hire a composer of national renown to hear and critique works presented and performed live during the master class. If the nonprofit raises enough money, it will hire musicians to perform during the master class; if not, each participant will be responsible for recruiting the musicians needed to perform her work. Following the class, the composers will then present their compositions to the public in a free concert.
Everyone Deserves Music: “We feature a different charity at each concert and collect donations, upwards of $750 per year. Our composers have ranged from professional musicians to local business people, teachers and even two homeless teens.”
Monterey History and Art Association
Year Founded: 1931
Staff: 6 paid, 10 volunteers
The Big Idea: The 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival was a precursor to Woodstock, a celebration of musical genres and personalities and the launching pad for youth-based social movements to follow. The MHAA seeks to capture that spirit in a media-driven exhibit that tells the story of the musicians, people, city and festival through film, music, poetry, photography and art. The Museum of Monterey will present an “experience” for the visitor and place them back in time to June 1967, at the festival, in the campgrounds, backstage and in the city of Monterey, where they can see rare footage, images of the performers and memorabilia and detritus of the weekend festival. Museum Director Lisa Coscino is partnering with A Perfect Haze authors Harvey and Kenneth Kubernick, Hippie Dictionary author John McCleary and others to produce this interactive festival incorporating concerts, lectures, youth storytelling, beat and slam poetry readings and backstage passes. But first, they need to find donors and corporate sponsors to make the colossal event happen.
Living History: “I was born in Monterey and developed a love of history, and especially California history, through the work of MHAA. Today, when I volunteer at the Merianda, I am thankful that an organization such as MHAA is there to protect our heritage.”
Monterey Jazz Festival
Year Founded: 1958
Staff: 9 paid, 439 volunteers
The Big Idea: The world’s longest continuously running jazz festival calls Monterey home. And if owning a Grammy-award winning record label, presenting veteran musicians alongside emerging artists, pumping more than $40 million into the local economy and hosting the Next Generation Jazz Festival wasn’t enough, in 2012, MJF wants to further diversify by engaging the under-30 crowd. One way it will do this is through its Digital Music Education Project, an interactive online music tool – the preferred method for the youngsters to access MJF’s current and future performances and educational programs. This project’s success means greater appreciation for jazz and, if we’re lucky, finding the next Charles Lloyd here in our own backyard.
School of Jazz: “I learned more here in two weeks than in a whole year of high school. I’m definitely going to come back next year.”
Monterey Museum of Art
Year Founded: 1959
Staff: 37 paid, 85 volunteers
The Big Idea: Kids develop positive attitudes toward visual arts and sciences during childhood and early adolescence, so with 77 middle schools and 10,764 third and fourth graders in Monterey County, the opportunity to turn youngsters on to both is huge. The Monterey Museum of Art’s – the only nationally accredited art museum between Santa Barbara and San Jose – Big Idea aims to reach these tens of thousands of kids through its Sustainable Arts Education Program, which consists of three parts: continued research and development of the school outreach program, including interdisciplinary curricula aligned with visual and performing arts standards; field trips – busing third and fourth graders – to the MMA and Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History with corresponding educational activities; and hiring an education coordinator to work with both museums and program schools.
Start ‘Em Early: “Our hope is that by visiting the museums and performing activities that correlate to their class work the students will develop a more positive perception of the visual arts, sciences and museums in general.”
Pacific Repertory Theatre
Year Founded: 1983
Staff: 8 paid, 125 volunteers
The Big Idea: PacRep’s School of Dramatic Arts (SoDA) has a new, permanent home – the Indoor Forest Theater – and this means it can now offer more classes and performance opportunities for young people and adults. SoDa previously offered about a half-dozen classes; these days the number has more than doubled and it includes weekend classes, too. Kids (by invitation only) can participate in a Christmas Glee production, inspired by the popular TV show; adults can hone their reading performance skills with Words on Stage; and performers of all ages can learn comedy improv, on-camera acting and screen play creation and how to do your own stage makeup. Not sure what to do with kids during vacation? Send ’em to a week-long intensive camp. In 2012, it wants to further expand the curriculum to take advantage of the new digs, adding more classes and workshops based on what both kids and adults want.
Teenage Dream: “PacRep has created a wonderful environment for teenagers. There’s structure and discipline and a place for kids to be themselves.”
Year Founded: 1996
Staff: 7 paid, 30 volunteers
The Big Idea: SpectorDance’s Big Idea tackles about the biggest issues of our generation: the changing oceans and climate change. To this end the dance company is collaborating with Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the National Steinbeck Center and Sunset Cultural Center’s Classroom Connections Program to produce Ocean, a multimedia dance work inspired by interviews with leading ocean scientists and underwater video footage. It’s not only a big one, it’s also an ambitious idea: educate about climate change through music, movement and choreography. Ocean’s got momentum, but it needs local money to pay artists’ fees, and support touring costs, curriculum development and outreach performances for underserved youth.
Sea Change: “Increasing awareness of the changes in our ocean is essential for the future of our environment. Performance is a fresh and exciting way to impart scientific information. Ocean brings together fact and feeling to foster constructive dialogue and inspire responsible stewardship.”
Sunset Cultural Center
Year Founded: 2003
Staff: 13 paid, 150 volunteers
The Big Idea: In 2007, Sunset Cultural Center launched Classroom Connections, intended to increase access to the performing arts for youth, especially those in communities underserved in the arts and arts education. It’s working. To date, the program has reached more than 2,000 students in Salinas, Seaside, Monterey and Carmel Schools, introducing them to the performing arts through hands-on learning, with performing artists visiting participating schools to conduct pre-performance workshops in classrooms, followed by the students attending a performance at the Sunset Center. Plus, it’s free to schools and students. In 2012, it wants to go bigger: Bigger and Better Classroom Connections will partner with SpectorDance, and with additional funding, it will update Sunset Cultural Center’s classrooms to allow more kids and teens to be involved via summer camps, art and dance programs and master classes, at no cost to kids, their families and schools.
Inspiring Performance: “In addition to very well-known and popular artists, we present unique and inspirational artists, such as dance troupes – like Ballet Preljocaj – and the Harlem Gospel Choir, who raise spirits and awareness but do not fill every seat.”
Youth Music Monterey
Year Founded: 1988
Staff: 5 paid, 150 volunteers
The Big Idea: There is no music education in South County schools. It’s the sad state of music education in the state, and considering multi-billion budget deficits on the horizon, it doesn’t look to be improving anytime soon. That’s why nonprofits like Youth Music Monterey are so vital. Youth Music Monterey provides in-class orchestra programs for youth in Monterey County including South County Strings, the only music education available in South Monterey County. These free, in-school string classes at public schools in Lockwood, Bradley and San Lucas doubled students enrolled and instruction hours last year; in 2012 it wants to add even more students and an additional level of instruction, which will bring together the most advanced students from the current school sites to form a small ensemble to prepare them for playing in the YMM Junior Youth Orchestra. It will grow the number of students from 89 to between 100 and 120 by adding a fourth site in an underserved community in South Monterey County.
The Big Picture: “The arts are an important and necessary component of a well-rounded education for local students.”