Category Archives: Strategic Partnership

Stuff of Dreams

My four-year-old often wakes in the middle of the night, anxious for answers to important questions: “Mommy, are robots real?” “Mommy, are giants bigger than Daddy?” “Mommy – the barf that flew out of my mouth last night – can we pretend it was fire?”

Andrew

Andrew, four, fire-breather and dreamer

Though I’m tired of stumbling between his bedroom and mine in the wee hours of the night, I understand that his brain is on overdrive, and I adore his insatiable curiosity. (And believe me, his questions continue throughout the day.) The blessing and curse of these nighttime wakings is that my brain starts to spin, too – and while my boy dreams about robots and giants and breathing fire, I think about spinning sculptures, water dances, and wonderful new friendships. I think about Ebb & Flow.

Just over a year ago, I brought together some of my favorite people in Santa Cruz to brainstorm an idea for a grant opportunity. The California Arts Council had just launched its Creative California Communities program and it seemed a perfect time to join sandboxes with people both in and out of the arts world – likely, and “unlikely” partners, as we like to call them. From that first meeting, the Ebb & Flow River Arts Project was born. (You can read the full origin story here.)

ebb&flow color 6-1

logo mark by Doug Ross

Fast forward fourteen months and our program has become a movement. Our partnership is now a radical collaboration in which we share leadership, responsibility, and successes. It’s put the Arts Council’s work in front of people who didn’t know much about us. Most importantly, it’s bringing the community together to think about our river and RiverWalk in new ways.

I’ve been speaking about this program both near and far, and while it’s fun to share the various bits and pieces of awesome that comprise Ebb & Flow, the important thing is to reflect what we did right, to acknowledge how much of that “right stuff” was accidental, and to make those good choices intentional, moving forward.

But let’s start with the awesome. Ebb & Flow starts on First Friday, June 5th. Indulge me in a little imaginative trip, if you will. Start your evening downtown where we’ve closed off Cooper Street. There you can join artists, friends, neighbors and strangers to build two kinetic, mobile, river-inspired sculptures. After that, follow the nearest kids to First Friday venues for a scavenger hunt of artistic river critters. Once the moon rises, take a nighttime River Walk to see aerial dancing off a downtown bridge, watch an inspiring short film about our river, and witness a lighting ceremony of a new temporary public art piece that celebrates the ancient peoples of Santa Cruz.

Ohlone

One of the “Guardians of the River” by Geoffrey Nelson

The next day, put your kids in a Radio Flyer wagon or grab your best friends and some pinwheels, and join the Ebb & Flow Kinetic Sculpture Parade down the Santa Cruz RiverWalk.

Fish Bike Lee

Fish Bike by Lee Myers

Not only will you see some of the wackiest kinetic art Santa Cruz artists have to offer – you’ll also witness the unveiling of ten new temporary artworks along the RiverWalk. These stunning pieces range from huge sculptural fishing rods dangling from a bridge to black metal “ghost” silhouettes of riverboats and bears that once roamed the river to massive sculptures of coho salmon and steelhead trout.

Upstream by Kirby Scudder

Upstream by Kirby Scudder

End your kinetic parade journey at the Tannery Arts Center for the Ebb & Flow River Arts Celebration. See the unveiling of Kathleen Crocetti’s and Anna Oneglia’s stunning new Ebb & Flow community-built sculpture.

Kathleen Crocetti - Ebb & Flow Table

Kathleen Crocetti – Ebb & Flow Table

Dance to Marty O’Reily, members of SambaDá, Flor de Cana, and so much more. See inspired dance by Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center Youth Company, Te Hua Nui, and even BANDALOOP dancing off the Tannery buildings. Join the kids in getting river critters painted on your face; print your own Ebb & Flow poster with Doug Ross; take a short tour of the river behind the Tannery and learn about the birds and fish that call it home; get water wise by interacting with the Coastal Watershed Council and Save Our Shores; and leave motivated, inspired, and delighted with your new friends and new knowledge about what the San Lorenzo River means to Santa Cruz County.

At least, that’s how I plan on spending the day. With just over four weeks to go, it’s no wonder that my head is spinning at 2 AM, wondering how we can make this event not just a wonderful couple of days, but a lasting movement that transforms how our community loves and cares for our river.

There’s a lot of art in this project. And a lot of joy. And through joyous art-making and art appreciating, we are realizing the goals of Ebb & Flow:

  • elevate community water literacy
  • inspire economic activity
  • activate underutilized community spaces
  • strengthen cross-sector relationships
  • build stewardship of the San Lorenzo River
  • make awesome art!

That last goal is actually the means for getting everything else done.

So what did we do right? And what can we do better next time? Stay tuned, and I’ll blog about it soon. For now, make sure you don’t miss the awesome. Book your calendar for June 5th & 6th to witness the beauty, spectacle, and wonder of Ebb & Flow.

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“Ideas, like large rivers, never have just one source.” – Willy Ley

Last Sunday, my three-year-old Andrew wanted to go on a bike ride. So my husband put Andrew’s bike in the back of the car, strapped in Andrew and his little brother Alex, and drove to the Tannery Arts Center campus, where I work, and where there is plenty of paved, safe open space.

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Alex and Andrew, “working” at my desk last Sunday

I hopped on my cruiser to meet them there. I live about a block and a half from a trestle bridge that connects this side of Santa Cruz to the Boardwalk, and at the bottom of the bridge is the starting point for the River Walk, a long path that meanders next to the San Lorenzo River. The river runs through downtown and past the Tannery Arts Center, which is where the River Walk ends. The small miracle of this means that when I ride to work, I only have to be on surface streets for a block and a half. The rest of my ride I’m flying by the flora and fauna that call the river home – flowers and countless species of birds and tiny skittering animals – and eleven minutes later I’m at the front door of my office.

The sad part? I was largely alone on that ride. It was a perfect, sunny, 70-degree Santa Cruz early spring day, and almost nobody was out enjoying the river. No paddlers, no picnickers, no pedestrians. No families out for a stroll or packs of cyclists in their spandexed glory.

The San Lorenzo River is the historic and environmental heart of this city. These days, the community is both literally and figuratively cut off from it. A series of levees built in the 1950’s blocks the river from view; and as criminal activity increased next to it, the community avoided it, and many have forgotten about it altogether. But it wasn’t always so. A century ago, it was the celebrated lifeblood of the community, and even supported the most anticipated annual event in Santa Cruz: the San Lorenzo Venetian Water Festival. Four days of celebration included fireworks displays, dancing on a temporary floral pavilion, night parades, and lavishly decorated boats and barges. Thousands of lights were strung from shore to shore.

Venetian Water Festival Float

A float at the River Festival, some time around the turn of the century

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viewing stands along the San Lorenzo River

Now, the river doesn’t meet federal water quality objectives; it has a high concentration of criminal activity adjacent to it, and local policies prohibit access, so there is no swimming, paddling, or any other recreation in the water. Some community members don’t even realize we have a river running through our city, and many that do generally avoid it, as it’s not seen as a safe place.

The river should be our pride and joy. It should be a place where we come to celebrate and recreate. It should be an engine of economic activity and should be recognized as our main source of drinking water, wildlife habitat, and flood protection. It should inspire, delight, and restore us as we wander down its path.

There have been many stalled and unsuccessful attempts over the years to remedy this problem. Now, though, something is afoot that has the potential to, if you will, turn the tide. Greg Pepping of the Coastal Watershed Council has created the San Lorenzo River Alliance. The Alliance is a coalition focused on revitalizing the health of the San Lorenzo River and transforming it into a safe and welcoming community destination. Greg is working on pulling together partners from a wide swath of interests to collectively work on this vision. It will take years, but I believe he will be successful.

And the arts are going to help him get there.

The Arts Council, in partnership with the Coastal Watershed Council, the City of Santa Cruz Water Department, the City of Santa Cruz Arts Commission, the Tannery Arts Center, the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center, and numerous incredible local artists including Kathleen Crocetti, applied for a significant grant from the California Arts Council. This grant, through the Creative California Communities program, would invigorate both the river and the Tannery campus, and bring together some seriously awesome folks, many of whom have never worked together before. Here’s the “project thumbnail” from the grant:

Unlikely partners will unite to transform the community’s relationship with the San Lorenzo River and the Tannery Arts Center through the Ebb & Flow River Arts Project, a yearlong collaborative arts and educational initiative culminating in a Kinetic Sculpture Parade & River Festival. The Project will spark a movement that builds constituencies for the Tannery campus and the river, elevates water literacy, inspires hubs of economic activity, and strengthens cross-sector relationships. 

Sounds fantastic, right? We will create a large sculptural fountain which includes a water catchement system with a spill-way to the Tannery Garden. The large, round planters around campus will be decorated with water-inspired mosaics. We’ll do a series of educational workshops co-led by artists and water experts. We’ll create temporary public art at five River Walk access points to call attention to those locations and educate community members about the river.  And it will all culminate next June in a Kinetic Sculpture Parade & Festival, featuring work by Tannery and community artists, who will create sculptures that will parade down the river – or the River Walk, if the flow isn’t high enough – ending at the Tannery where we’ll celebrate with dance, music, artmaking, and food.

We’ll engage the environmental population in the arts, and arts audiences in a celebration of the river. We’ll use the energy and momentum created by the festival to advocate for friendlier policies for the use of the river (with habitat and conservation always at front of mind, of course). We’ll bring thousands of people to the Tannery campus. And we’ll help realize the potential of the river and the campus as major hubs of toursim and economic activity.

What if we don’t get the grant? I’ll be disappointed, but I won’t regret all of the time and energy I put into bringing these people together. Just the process of brainstorming the idea, and crafting the proposal led me to meet some fantastic folks, and to begin to deepen relationships with some I already knew. I’m happy to now be serving on the San Lorenzo River Alliance’s River Oversight Committee, and my own “water literacy” has been dramatically raised since I started working on this proposal.

And I’ve fallen in love with our river. I ride my bike on the River Walk whenever I get the chance, and I look forward to the day when my Sunday afternoon ride is idyllic in a different way : maybe not as quiet and peaceful as last Sunday, but wonderful in its own way with the sounds of kids laughing, paddlers splashing, cyclists spinning, birders spotting, and community members of all kinds finding a place to relax, reconnect, and restore.

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If you live in Santa Cruz county, and if you are interested in sharing your vision for the river and shaping the work of the San Lorenzo River Alliance, please complete this survey. Your input is extremely valuable to the Alliance!

 

Ebb and Flow

Coverage

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” – Jane Addams

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa 

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of leading a discussion about the arts at Civinomicon 2013. This conference was touted as a “civic hackathon”, with an end goal of creating numerous initiatives that would benefit the Santa Cruz County community. Those initiatives are currently being voted on by residents throughout Santa Cruz, whether or not they attended the event.

The format was interesting, the crowd diverse and engaged, and there was free ice cream and beer. It takes something very compelling to tear me away from my children on a Saturday, but this was definitely time well spent. I was asked to create a presentation that outlined the state of the arts in Santa Cruz County, identify challenges in our sector, and then to facilitate a discussion during which the group would brainstorm ideas that could help improve the arts in our community.

I followed this format, but I didn’t ask the group to brainstorm ideas that could help improve the arts. Instead, I asked the group to brainstorm ideas that would help strengthen our community through the arts. There is a very clear distinction, in my mind, between the two. For me, it’s the difference between treating a symptom – such as a headache – and instead focusing on the health of your body – such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising, which in turn (in my case) prevents headaches. If we focus on how the arts can make the whole community thrive, then we have the opportunity to both make a major community impact as well as strengthen the arts.

Many ideas were generated, and the arts initiatives can be voted on here. As much as I enjoyed presenting at this conference, I would have loved to have joined some of the other conversations, on traffic, the environment, economic development, homelessness, public safety, and others. The arts have a role to play in all of those conversations, and we at the Arts Council want to be actively involved in solving the myriad challenges this community is facing.

To that end, I just got a phone call from a very kind reporter who asked, “Why is the Arts Council co-sponsoring a forum about Covered California and the Affordable Care Act?” And the answer is simple: there are many people in Santa Cruz County who lack health care insurance, or adequate insurance, and we want to help solve that. Many of these people in need are artists – innovators, creators, and designers. Artists of all kinds often are contract workers, or self-employed, with no regular paycheck, no benefits, and certainly no health insurance.

I’ve been there myself. For years, as a musical theater actor and performer, I jumped from job to job, show to show. In that life, paid vacation is unheard of, and health insurance – unless you are part of the union and happen to have worked enough in the past year to qualify – is a pipe dream. I lived my life for years avoiding going to the doctor and praying I didn’t get sick or injured. It’s no way to live, not for me, not for artists, not for anyone. Farmworkers, contract teachers, hospitality workers, the unemployed or underemployed, all should have the basic peace of mind that comes with decent health insurance.

Obamacare might not work for everyone, and certainly there have been challenges with it so far. But it will give many people who have spent years living in fear of a health catastrophe the opportunity to get insurance for themselves and their children. So, in concert with more than fifteen community service organizations, we are putting time, energy and money toward “Get Covered: A Public Forum on Affordable Health Care through Covered California”. This forum, which will be on December 7th at the Santa Cruz Police Department Community Room, will help educate folks about the new law and provide enrollment assistance. In our quest to find unlikely partners to do great work in this community, this certainly qualifies, and it’s gratifying to work with such a diverse group of smart people.

So while I love being asked to talk about the arts, and to engage the public on ideas that can help elevate the arts in Santa Cruz County, what truly excites me is finding ways that the Arts Council can support the health and vibrancy of this community. “Get Covered” is a step in the right direction.

Proud Sponsors

“All truths are easy once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” – Galileo Galilei

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” – Winston Churchill

I have a BFA in Musical Theater. It’s the kind of college degree that brings a smirk to many a face, as people assume I spent four years tap dancing and walking around in clown shoes. I did do both, at times, but I actually spent five years taking between 20-24 units a semester learning a deep curriculum in music, dance, and theater. Oh, and taking all of the “core” subjects required for a liberal arts college degree. Scoff if you will, but I learned how to put in the hours to get the job done, and my late-night cramming was often in the ballet studio as well as the library.

One of the most eye-opening courses I took was Directing 101. All actors need to try their hands as directors when learning the craft, and I found directing to be challenging on so many levels. Running a casting call, finding a set designer and light designer, working around numerous schedules, looking for both talent and “fit”, getting the group as a whole to deliver both professionally and artistically – it was tough work (and, years later, so very familiar).

The most enlightening element of the process was being on the other end during an audition. You quickly learn that the audition begins the moment the actor walks into the room – not the moment she begins her monologue or song. How she walks, how she interacts with the accompanist, how she introduces herself – all of it matters almost as much as her ability act or sing. Actually, the audition begins even before that – it begins when I read her resume. There I learn not just about her professional past, but how she presents herself, her writing ability, her professionalism, her artistry as expressed through simple things such as font, brevity, and design.

Being on both ends of the creative spectrum was helpful then, as it is now.

I’m back in a dual role, as the director of an arts council that is also a funder. The Arts Council is both a grantee and a grantor, at all times. We spend a great deal of time on fund development but even more time figuring out how to responsibly disperse much of those funds so they can have a profound impact on our community. I’m also aware that this dynamic may color some of my relationships with both those who fund us, and those we fund. I wish I could remove that weird power dynamic altogether, as it just feels like an impediment to real relationships with people I really enjoy. But it’s there, and all I can do is show up in an authentic way when I’m interacting with my friends and colleagues.

Sometimes, though, being in this position allows us to imagine, design, and implement a change that we think is really cool. We know what it is like to spend dozens of hours on grant applications that may or may not get funded, or may have a pathetically small return on investment. We know the frustration of wishing we could be working to meet our mission, rather than working to raise the funds we need to do our work.

To that end, the Arts Council has made some major changes to our grants program. We opened up the cycle so funding for arts projects is available year round; we simplified who is eligible for general support grants versus project grants; we reworked our grants panel so truly qualified folks in each discipline will be reviewing applications; we’re offering professional development grants to both artists and arts organizations; and we moved to a much better online system for our grantmaking. But the change I’m most excited about is our new Sponsor Grant category.

The Arts Council has been funding the arts in Santa Cruz since 1979. And there are organizations in this county that we’ve been funding for all of those 34 years, whose longevity rivals our own. There are other organizations that may not have been around as long, but which have consistently provided excellent programming for the community and maintained strong management practices.

Every year, these organizations jump through our grantmaking hoops to be considered for funding. Every year, we see their strong balance sheets, high-quality programing, dedicated and talented staff, and devoted audiences. And every year, we award them funds. Which begged the question: why are we making them jump through hoops?

Enter the Sponsor Grants. These grants are ongoing, annual funding for the strongest and most impactful arts organizations in the county, based on the following criteria:

–          Ten years of producing programming in Santa Cruz County

–          Been funded by the Arts Council for five consecutive years

–          Provide leadership in their art discipline and/or in the Santa Cruz community

–          Have strong and consistent management and board leadership

–          Have a stable or growing budget

–          Have stable or growing audiences

–          Significant cash reserves

These organizations do not have to submit a grant application; instead, Arts Council staff does a site visit with both board and staff members, and at the end of the fiscal year, the funded organization will send a basic report that speaks to the criteria above. Unless these organizations experience dramatic and negative changes, we will continue to fund them year after year. All of the hours that would have been spent on a grant application will now be spent meeting their mission and creating fantastic programming for this community. We, too will save time, not having to collect, read, and score those grant applications, so we too can spend more time focused on our mission. In return for this funding, the Arts Council is given a sponsorship package commensurate with any other donor of the same level. This way, we promote the Arts Council’s own work in the community, ultimately building our capacity to provide even greater support to the organizations we serve.

One particularly exciting element of this category is that it’s not just about budget size. Some of the organizations in the cohort are major institutions – the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Museum of Art & History – but others are much smaller, such as the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center and Pajaro Valley Arts CouncilKuumbwa Jazz, the Santa Cruz County Symphony, and Tandy Beal round out the group, representing a broad range of artistic disciplines. These organizations also serve communities from the border region near Monterey to the far north county.

There are many other wonderful organizations in this community, of course, and some are close to qualifying for this grant. We hope to help elevate these organizations so they too can join the Sponsor category. Indeed, we are creating another new exciting grant category designed to help a cohort of organizations take the next step in their development. But that’s news for another day.

The Sponsor Grant category – and indeed, all of the major changes in the program – is the brainchild of our Grants & Technical Assistance Manager, Jim Brown. I can only take credit for being smart and lucky enough to talk him into joining our team just over a year ago. A former Executive Director of both the Diversity Center and 418 Project in Santa Cruz, with a background in in the tech world, Jim hadn’t had direct experience as a grants manager. But he did have experience as a grantseeker, and as a natural innovator and great thinker, he was able to completely re-think how we can make an impact with our funds. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

The Art of the Alliance

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Arts councils are a singular and often misunderstood breed. I often get asked what they are, what they do, and why they are important. Over the past two years I’ve twice traveled to San Diego to participate in a movement to create one in that county, and the role of an arts council is one I’m asked about frequently both when I present in public, and when I talk about my job one-on-one. I always speak passionately about arts education, advocacy, programs, and grants, but the one thing that truly inspires audiences whenever I discuss the unique role an arts council can play is when I talk about the Cultural Council Associates.

The CC Associates is a group convened by the Cultural Council that consists of 50+ arts-related organizations from throughout Santa Cruz County. We gather every other month to share stories, network, and learn from one another. We start the meetings with “One Big Thing”: each organization representative shares the biggest thing coming down the pike. Sometimes it’s an event; sometimes it’s a major grant; sometimes it’s a need; and sometimes it’s a call to action. But it’s always inspiring.

We then discuss any major issues in our field (opportunities, news about public funding, advocacy efforts), and end with a short “skill share” where one of the Associates steps up to share a technical tool or technique that they’ve found useful. The “skill share” is a powerful element of the meeting, as they are usually something that can immediately be put to use, as needed, by organizations both large and small.

Our biggest Associates meeting challenge is also one of its greatest assets. Many of these folks have been working together in this community for years, and they have much to chat about – so getting the meetings started always takes a few minutes and some enthusiastic gavel-pounding.

Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Well, it is. It is a very special group and was the tipping point for me when I was considering whether I would move to Santa Cruz to join this arts community. And I’m also learning just how rare this kind of group is. Almost everywhere I go, when I talk with other arts leaders, I hear about the competition amongst arts organizations that ranges from friendly rivalry to outright enmity. At my previous job, I worked incredibly hard to create a similar alliance, and found the task to be next to impossible. Personalities clashed, old grudges interfered, and some organizations declared outright that they weren’t interested in working with one another.

Granted, that community doesn’t have the same kind of public funding and comparatively robust support that the Santa Cruz arts sector is so fortunate to enjoy. It’s terribly hard for a nonprofit arts organization to thrive in an environment of incredibly scarce resources, and when you are worried every single day about keeping the doors open, it can be hard to also open your heart and mind to others in a similar circumstance. Because this isn’t about organizations, really: it’s about the people who work in them, and whether or not they have the interest, ability, and capacity to come together.

Thomas Cott once again read my mind on this and posted a number of articles about alliances, including this one about a movement in Palm Coast, Florida. The challenges are familiar: “Efforts to bring people together can also earn the ire of those they’re supposed to be helping…No one wants to be told by another arts organization what to do… People fear for their own turf.”

I have the great fortune to have simply waltzed into a situation that was the stuff of my dreams: a strong arts community that values cooperation, collaboration, and communication. We aren’t perfect, but we have a terrific model. I believe that just about any community can make this happen. But there is groundwork that needs to be laid and thoughtful steps to take, which might look something like this:

  1. Determine a neutral body – or one that is as neutral as possible – to coordinate the effort. Arts councils are often perfectly poised to make it happen. Although the arts council might receive funding from the same sources as other alliance members, the mission of a council is so specific and discrete that it may have a better shot at bringing folks together.
  2. Don’t try to create an arts alliance in a vacuum. Potential alliance members should consider partnerships and volunteer opportunities outside of the arts sector that could positively benefit the alliance. This could mean getting involved with the local Convention & Visitor’s Council, Chambers of Commerce, service clubs, etc. This will take time, but only by getting involved will you be able to give the alliance legs – and you will also be able to actively advocate for and demonstrate the impact of the arts.
  3. Get your local governments on board. Having representatives from city/county arts programs (if they exist) are key to legitimizing the efforts of an alliance – and can be a fast-track way to assist in advocacy when issues arise. Regularly show up to speak about the alliance and its benefits and collective impact during public comment at city council/county supervisor meetings.
  4. Be sure to reach out to organizations and groups large and small to be a part of the alliance. If only big dogs are invited, it may appear elitist, and you run the risk of missing out on the innovations of the smaller or emerging groups out there. Plus, the opportunities for collaborations will be greatly diminished, and the experience won’t be nearly as rich.
  5. Start by having a “there there” – some grand reason to get together, be it an event, an opportunity, a speaker, something to get folks in the door the first time. And then ask those folks what would make them keep coming.
  6. Meet somewhere that is big enough to accommodate everyone, ideally in a creative venue.
  7. Bring snacks. And coffee.
  8. Have a Chair and a Vice Chair who together coordinate and run the meetings. Have these offices rotate annually, so lots of folks get the opportunity to provide leadership.
  9. Choose something that all of the alliance members can get involved in. The Cultural Council Associates have the Gail Rich Awards, in partnership with the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
  10. Create (and then disband, as needed) committees if specific tasks or projects come up. The Associates has an ongoing Professional Development Committee, as well as a Gail Rich Committee that meets only when it’s time to plan the event.
  11. Keep meetings short and entertaining. Find a way (such as the “One Big Thing”) to always get everyone’s voice in the room. Don’t meet too often. (The Associates meet every other month.)
  12. Stay in touch via social media. The Associates has a Facebook page where folks post cool stuff pretty regularly.
  13. Did I mention to bring snacks?
  14. Have the long view. If it’s slow to start, keep trucking. Thirty years from now you may have a robust and exciting group of people that love to see each other every other month. And that’s a fantastic gift you can give your successors.

I’ll continue to champion arts councils wherever I go. But I’ll also sing the praises of the Cultural Council Associates, because I strongly believe they are a major part of what makes this community so fantastic. We at the Council may hold the knitting needles that bring the yarns together, but it’s the Associates that make the gorgeous, colorful, and vibrant blanket that covers this community in creativity.