Reflections of a Forum for Art in Vallejo

What’s Art Got to Do With It?” forum sponsored by Listen & Be Heard, October 4, 2007 at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. Photos by S.N. Jacobson.

Listen & Be Heard wants to thank Jim Kern at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum for allowing us to hold a forum entitled “What’s Art Got to Do With It?” on October 4 at the museum. Fabrice Moschetti supplied attendees with free hot coffee, and Consumer Music donated a sound sytem and microphones, making it possible for everyone to hear everyone.

We would also like to thank all the candidates, Gary Cloutier, Osby Davis, Pamela Pitts, Cris Villanueva, Lou Bordisso, Darrel Edwards, Oscar Estioko, Erin Hannigan, Anthony Pearsall, Michael Wilson and Joanne Schivley for making the time to talk about a future for Art in Vallejo.

Thank you also to the more than 120 people who participated and demonstrated their concern for the cultural life of the city of Vallejo. It was a truly diverse crowd of people interested in the quality of life where they live and work. The fact that the Sierra Club-Solano Group Forum, taking place a few days later, attracted around 100 people says to me that Art and Culture is as much of an environmental concern as Water and Air. In the face of The People, all the candidates agreed that Art and Culture are important to the life of Vallejo.

We were happy to see the Vallejo Times-Herald made the decision to cover the forum on the front page of its Friday October 5 issue. Unfortunately, the article by Sara Stroud was a little misleading. When she stated that “All candidates said they supported public funding for the arts” she was referring to their support for a percent-for-art tax, a 1% or 2% tax to be paid by developers and possibly homeowners, that would go directly to public art. This money would not be part of the city budget that competes with other things like union contracts. The idea for a percent-for-art was first introduced to the City Council by Gary Cloutier. There is already a commission working on bringing a percent-for-art proposal back to the City Council for a vote, after a period of public input. We would like to see some in-depth coverage of some of the issues surrounding the percent-for-art proposal. Unfortunately, our local Channel 27 chose not to, or was unable to cover the forum, so you won’t be seeing the replay of the conversation around that issue on our local public access television station.

What else was missing? Well, members of the Vallejo Commission on Culture and the Arts to begin with. Multiple members of multiple boards of local arts organizations around here who should maybe take note, along with the politicians, of a dynamic, diverse and growing movement for change in Vallejo.

What you see in a mirror depends on where you stand. If you place yourself directly in front of it, you’ll see yourself. If you stand to the left, you’ll see the right. If you’re for the right thing, you’ll see what’s wrong. Standing next to each other and looking straight ahead Listen & Be Heard faces Vallejo with what we have to offer and continues to work to fulfill the promise of diversity. Thanks to everyone who shares that goal. We look forward to working together with you as we move forward.

Wishing you Peace and Poetry
Martha and Tony Mims

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