An Update on the Creative Monterey County Action Plan
March 11, 2011
You've got to admire the Arts Council for Monterey County. With funding by the Community Foundation for Monterey County, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation, in 2007 they first conceived of the ambitious Creative Monterey County Action Plan—a concerted effort to rally the resources of county arts organizations into a creative and economic force. Since then, a deflated economy has slowed a lot of momentum in arts organizations.
But they've come back around to their roadmap, starting with a survey of people from the arts, government and business, and last October conducting workshops with 100 people from the community, keynoted by California Arts Council board president—and sister-in-law to Maria Shriver—Malissa Feruzzi Shriver.
Their meeting/reception at the Community Foundation for Monterey County on March 10 served as a check-in and a pep rally around the slogan "Arts are the answer." And a supportive crowd of about 40 came to mingle among wine and appetizers, and hear the five-part message delivered in succinct fashion by different speakers.
Daniel R. Baldwin, the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Monterey County, set the tone, saying, "The arts are not a luxury. They are every day. They are what it means to be a living, breathing person."
Paulette Lynch, executive director of the Arts Council for Monterey County, punctuated the round of speakers who elaborated, in each their own way, the five tenants of the Action Plan, which was delineated in a five-page pull-out flyer, including 1) “Broaden, diversify, and deepen participation”; 3) “Expand capacity and impact of creative industries”; and 4) “Strengthen k-12 education through the arts, culture, creativity and innovation.”
Orlando Casto, board president of Alisal Center for the Performing Arts, compared the efforts to revitalize Monterey County through the arts to other cities.
"Mexico City was transformed with art. It is possible," he said. "San Diego was not a safe place before. But businesses, the city, schools and arts organizations worked together and transformed it."
Ruth Rodriguez, community services coordinator for CHISPA (Community Housing Improvement Systems & Planning Association) told the audience that more onsite after-school programs like Sol Treasures were needed, especially in south county. Linda Hevern seconded that point, adding that other segments of the population—the elderly and infirm in particular—can benefit from synergistic efforts like a recent visit by members of the Boys & Girls Club to cancer patients.
"This is just what the doctor should have ordered," she said. "I was in the [original Action Plan] meetings in '07. It's extraordinary how it's grown."
The Arts Council's art and education director, Laurie Myers, offered a broad view of art.
"Art is everywhere. Let kids know art is all around us," she said and gestured around her. "It's design. It's in the lights, the chairs, the building." She later expanded her definition to include the wine glass in her hand, the label on the bottle, even the color schemes on cereal boxes.
Paulette Lynch closed the presentation by circling back to its beginning.
"If you remember just one phrase from today," she said, "what would it be?"
And, on cue, the audience responded to her in unison: "Arts are the Answer!"
"I've done my job," Lynch concluded.