Our most recent project was sponsored through California Arts Council’s Artist Activating Communities grant, with a matching grant from the San Bernardino Fine Arts Commission. Our goals were to inspire action through creative expression, while educating and engaging participants about local, state and national issues. Activities were led by Michael Segura and Phil Yeh, and included teaching basic drawing and cartooning skills, as well as hosting professional guest artists like Steve Breen from the San Diego Tribune, and David Brown from the Los Angeles Sentinel, to present their work and talk about their process. We partnered with Inland Empire Community News (IECN) to publish the cartoons in their newspapers. Also published, was a 10,000 issue, special election edition of Uncle Jam Magazine in late October, that included a 10 page spread of cartoons and articles about the class. The opportunity to publish work provided an incentive to produce finished cartoons, and amplified the reach of the political discourse beyond our immediate community. We also had presentations from local community groups on current topics, many of which participants would be seeing on the ballot. San Bernardino County League of Women Voters presented us with an overview of the issues, San Bernardino Rotary Community Corps addressed homelessness, and Sinder Blocks focused on school funding. Other groups including San Bernardino Generation Now, San Bernardino Valley College Associated Student Government, The Sierra Club, and The Chicano Indigenous Community for Culturally Conscious Advocacy and Action also presented, offering their unique perspectives. Presentations were balanced with time for questions and discussions.
The results of this project have been on display in an exhibition featuring cartoons produced during the workshop at the Garcia Center for the Arts, which opened on November 7th and was scheduled to run through November 28th. The opening reception was held on election night and included a table set up for large scale drawings, and live election returns coming in on a large screen TV. We had such positive feedback, we extended the workshop and the exhibition! The group has continued to meet, and are working to create an outdoor installation at the Garcia Center using re-purposed election signs. They have decided to form a “PAC”, a Political Artist Coalition. If you’re interested in getting involved, email us for more information. There next event will be at the Garcia Center for the Arts on December 27th.
The 2016 Arts Connection Annual Conference, “From Competition to Collaboration,” was also a great success. It was aimed at strengthening our communities through the arts, and brought together participants from a wide variety of disciplines, sectors, and perspectives. The conference was held at the University of Redlands Orton Center in October, and featured the internationally exhibited art collective, Fallen Fruit. They presented an inspiring keynote about their work, highlighting the role that artists can play as facilitators, inviting people to engage in sharing and collectively exploring the meaning of community and collaborationto to activate their communities as fruitful, generous places. Learn more about Fallen Fruit at their website, http://fallenfruit.org/
The conference also featured three discussions: Arts + Ecology: Creative Problem-solving, about the critical role of the arts in generating awareness, developing solutions and activating change towards environmental health and justice; Art About Town, a discussion on the impact cultural organizations, institutions and individual artists can have in developing and defining our communities; and Arts + Audiences: Changing Minds, a conversation about developing works when the art/performance is based on a social issue and the actors and the audience are community members.
We are also happy to have opened the lines of communication during session with County Land Use Planning Director, Tom Hudson-- who joined us for a conversation about the role of the arts and the revision of the countywide plan.
This past year has also given us an opportunity to work with Masters students from around the region. Claremont Graduate School Arts Management students have assisted with research on the development of an artist guild, and an MS GIS student at the University of Redlands helped us to create a newly updated web application for our cultural asset map. You’ll find the newly updated cultural asset map on our website—feel free to add to it!
We look forward to the year ahead, and already have two upcoming events scheduled at our newest location, 536 W. 11th Street-- The Garcia Center for the Arts. We’ll be kicking off the New Year with a policy group, exploring how we can work to move funding forward for the arts in San Bernardino County. It's a big topic, and there is much to explore. We need active participation and are looking for folks who are interested in working together to research and define policies that we can put forth to the board of supervisors. Are you ready to advocate for the arts in 2017? Then join us on January 28th, from 2-4pm-- we need your voice!
If policy isn’t your thing, than how about poetry?Students from Carter High School in Rialto and Summit High School in Fontana will be competing in Poetry Out Loud, presented in partnership with the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation.
Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a county competition, a state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, DC. Over the past 11 years, Poetry Out Loud has reached more than 3 million students and 45,000 teachers from 10,000 schools nationwide.
Poet judges will evaluate student performances on criteria including voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, and accuracy, and the winner will advance to Sacramento!
Our talented judges include poets: George Hammons, Tristan Acker, Alex Avila, and Tim Hatch. Post contest, we will also be treated to a reading from George Hammons-- join us for an inspiring afternoon of poetry, and light refreshments!