What’s art got to do with it? Imagine your life without art. No songs, no pictures, no freedom of movement, no plays, not even television (if you call it art.) What you are imagining is life without Soul. The art we choose to live with and support with our actions and finances represents who we are as people, what we think about and what we believe in.
Here in Vallejo the public art, with a few exceptions, reflects the military history of this city. We are one of the most diverse cities in the country. The art funded by the city (if you can call it funding) represents a small portion of the diversity of cultures represented by the population. Today’s reality is that we are no longer a city feeding off a military base. We have no public art policy. Our children get little or no arts education in their classes, and have little available to them through other venues in the city.
Many of the people moving into the city are artists and creative people searching for a cheaper way to continue practicing their craft, and believing in the idea that there is an arts renaissance going on in Downtown Vallejo that they want to be a part of. City Hall may or may not recognize the fact that there is a growing constituency of people who have a vested interest in the viability of arts related businesses in Vallejo. The individuals who work in City Hall now, and the ones who will take over after the November elections may or may not remember that part of the plan for the economic revival of Downtown Vallejo was for the Arts to lead that revival, with the opening of the Empress Theatre leading the way. The new condos full of people that were supposed to accompany that plan have not even begun being constructed, but the Empress Theatre is never-the-less scheduled to open early next year.
These are some of the issues on my mind as I face my deadline, and as Tony and I prepare to speak with all the mayoral and city council candidates at a public forum called “What’s Art Got to Do With It” at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum tomorrow (Thursday October 4) from 6:30-8:30pm. We’ll have our questions, and you’re welcome to bring yours as long as they are arts related. This is the time to represent to those who represent us that The Arts are the Heart of this city and The People are concerned about the future of the Arts in Vallejo.