Arts and the City of Anaheim

Summary Policy Proposals for Anaheim City Council

NOTE: July 14, 2017. This statement was prepared with a window of only a couple of days in which to contribute to the City’s budgeting process — which is now complete. The board will now take the time revise the contents and re-publish.

Our city strives to live up to the ideal of Anaheim: City of Kindness.
Many qualities combine to make a city great: Kindness, Education, Business, Sports, Faith, Safety, etc. The social glue that provides a tangible and qualitative bond to the fabric of the community is the Visual and Performing Arts as expressed in culture.

  1. Research task force
    1. Before we assume we already know how to employ the arts as “social glue”, or as a means to address community needs (see #2), we propose the set up of a precursor task force, to identify areas of greatest needs and engage in the conversation with communities so they can tell the task force how arts and culture might enable their highest aspirations.
  2. Cultural Arts Based Social Integration
    1. Cultural events can unintentionally divide if they only serve one or two cultural niches. Well-planned multi-cultural events are a means to bring whole communities together to celebrate each other’s history, culture, food, music and arts.
    2. A major objective of our cultural arts proposals is to enable all immigrants to settle into Anaheim – a place where they truly feel at home.
    3. Anaheim could encourage district based cultural activities as a means to the removal of neighborhood social barriers and the betterment of community understanding.
    4. The WAND Barbeque could be an example of such a community event.
    5. Multi-cultural activities should be integrated into the Mayor’s Welcoming Anaheim initiative.
    6. Such events will therefore engage almost every strata of the community from the people themselves to non-profits, local shops, law enforcement, the fire department, schools and places of worship.
  3. Annual City Wide Multi-Cultural Arts Festival
    1. The City currently provides easy access to free or low cost events such as Movies Under the Stars and Concerts in the Park (subsidized in part by grants from the Anaheim Arts Council.)
    2. The City could invite city wide (or even county wide) sponsorship and participation to promote an annual week-long, or weekend, multi-cultural arts festival.
    3. Such a multi-cultural arts festival could include a sponsored plein-air competition for artists from across the United States. A city-wide festival would utilize many venues and feature visual and performing arts that represent the background and culture of the many ethnicities that now live in Anaheim.
    4. The focal point for evening and weekend performance could be Convention Way. At this festival all of Anaheim’s arts from elementary schools to professional performing artists could find a place. This could be the largest cultural event in the whole of Orange County.
    5. Anaheim should revisit its policy that inhibits the use of banners across streets at times of festivity. Nobody driving though the Orange Circle area in our neighboring city can fail to appreciate the sense of expectancy when their street banners invite everyone to share the food, fun, and festivity.
    6. As an alternative and less ambitious project it might be desirable fully to participate in the Orange County Imagination Celebration. This would engage the currently existing arts organizations.
    7. Reference
  4. Art in the Public Domain
    1. Most great cities take pride in their public art: architecture, landscaping, monuments & sculpture, galleries and murals.
    2. Historically this has best been effected by public/private co-operation.
    3. The City should work with the volunteer agencies to identify and catalog all public arts assets, including murals.
    4. Public art should be preserved as far as possible, and when compromised by construction projects or poor visibility, art pieces should be moved and repositioned. While public art may not be sacrosanct, careful consideration should always be given before it is scrapped.
    5. The City could invite the public to participate in identifying walls where murals would beautify the space, and encourage businesses to commission works of art on their blank exterior walls.
    6. Selected empty wall space could be allocated for those whose art form is graffiti! (This should exclude gang graffiti).  Periodically the space(s) could be cleaned up to allow further iterations of graffiti. It is possible this scheme could be a cost saving to the city.
    7. We suggest an annual sculpture competition (maybe sponsored by a major bank) in which sculptors of all kinds bring their works to Anaheim, perhaps making them over the course of a week. The event would attract the public in large numbers, who would be able to vote for their favorite pieces. The winning entry, or entries, would be purchased and installed in Anaheim, whether on public or private land – but accessible to all. This has been done with great success in other parts of the US. Refer to Brent Dennis.
    8. The City should examine the City of Brea’s Arts In Public Places policies: Note, its ordinance requiring businesses building premises costing $1.5m or more to provide an item of public art.
    9. Anaheim Arts Council currently gives special recognition to new public art each November at a special meeting in the Council Chambers. This event would be made more effective with City support and collaboration with the Cultural and Heritage Commission.
  5. Business and the Arts
    1. We propose that the City, with the Anaheim Arts Council, encourage synergy between business and the arts. The arts, in their widest expression, contribute massively to the economy of Orange County.
    2. We propose the development of a suitable platform that makes the case for the value of a vibrant relationship between business and the arts. Some of the connections might include:
      1. Summer arts interns
      2. Direct sponsorship of arts organizations and artists
      3. Reciprocal input to business from the arts, including improv and theatre as a means to develop understanding in the workplace.
      4. As a matter of policy, artwork displayed within business premises might be acquired from local Anaheim artists.
      5. Input from sponsored arts groups at company celebratory events, conferences and educational sessions.
      6. We approve of the way the arts are given visibility through the annual State of the City event.
    3. A scheme for how business and arts could find new synergy could be worked up by an ad hoc group of capable volunteers from Disney, the City, the Cultural and Heritage Commission and the Anaheim Arts Council, Anaheim Small Business Organization and the Chamber of Commerce.
  6. Poetry Set Free
    1. We enthusiastically support the appointment of a Poet Laureate for Anaheim and anticipate the plan reaching completion in the near future.
    2. A poet laureate brings immense value to a city quite aside from poetic perorations at city events. His/her role in schools and public places stimulates the imagination, instills a love of language, encourages the high skills of metaphor, critical insight and the sense of self worth and achievement. Poetry slams, RAP slams, have a considerable appeal to the young.
    3. As an exemplar, the City should take note of the enormous appeal of the musical Hamilton, an extraordinary combination of rap poetry, music, multi-culturalism and history that has overflowed into our schools and the popular imagination – even for those who have never seen the show.
  7. The MUZEO
    1. The City already provides substantial financial support to the MUZEO each year as the MUZEO is an important focal point for education, engagement and conversation about arts and culture.
    2. The Arts Council strongly supports the work of the MUZEO
    3. There could be better collaboration between the MUZEO and  businesses that occupy the downtown area.
    4. Endeavour to make the MUZEO more accessible for vehicles and pedestrians, perhaps with dedicated parking spots on Broadway.
    5. As an immediate measure the City could agree to install diagonal crosswalks at the Anaheim/Broadway intersection to improve access to the Muzeo and the Center Street area.
    6. Like the Muzeo there are other arts organizations needing space for their programming. Perhaps other city property could be found for occasional extension purposes.
    7. See #10, below.
  8. Anaheim Performing Arts Center
    1. The successful building of a Performing Arts Center will bring great financial benefit to the City and truly elevate Anaheim to being the City of the Arts.
    2. Doubts persist as to whether Anaheim Performing Arts Center Foundation could ever raise the likely half billion price tab within the designated timeframe, but we commend the city for its vision and determination to work with APACF over the four year ENA period
    3. There are those who question whether so much should be spent on a prestige performing arts center, or the City make the land available so cheaply while other needs in Anaheim are so great.
    4. It should be noted, however, that major construction projects – whether they be roads, hotels, convention centers, or whatever – generally proceed with the calculus that the investment also brings benefits to communities with the facilities and jobs they provide; and revenue to the City. There is no reason why a state of the art Performing Arts Center should be any different. Provided that planning and (very stringent) fund-raising requirements can be met this center will be Anaheim’s jewel in the crown.
  9. Resident Arts Companies
    1. Anaheim has officially recognized three arts organizations as Resident companies: Anaheim Ballet, the Orange County Symphony and the Chance Theatre.
    2. All have received benefits from the city in various way which we need not specify here. But those benefits do not directly translate to much needed cash flow.
    3. The City might consider creating budget line items for arts and culture in general and additional cash grants to these resident companies on some equitable basis. The needs of the Symphony are possibly the greatest. (See #12)
    4. The City might, however, consider that the new grant application program is sufficient to address these needs.
  10. Downtown Celebration Park
    1. Open public spaces and parks afford opportunities for families to relax and children to play. For these to be effective such spaces need ready access to refreshments, shade, electrical outlets, and restrooms.
    2. We believe the City could identify many additional open spaces where pop-up food stands and entertainments could enliven a neighborhood and reduce the need for car travel to existing parks. With a simple system of permitting communities would determine how they could best use the space.
    3. The use of school grounds and facilities for the community has always been complex, but this should not deter ongoing efforts to make school grounds available to the public for special activities
    4. The MUZEO needs to be integrated into a wider and more congenial surrounding area such that this becomes a prime gathering place for residents and tourists.
    5. The Farmer’s Park concept seems very effective. We propose that with a long term view, and incredible vision and resolution, the City could designate the entire area of Anaheim Boulevard from City Hall to the Packing House, and some way into adjoining streets,  into a pedestrian-only area and to provide lawns, trees, fountains, assembly places. Then the MUZEO would become part of what we might call a Downtown Celebration Park. Pride of place would be City Hall.
  11. The Cultural and Heritage Commission
    1. Since its inception the Commission has been responsible for making recommendations to the city on matters of art and culture. They operate without a budget.
    2. The Commission has been given the responsibility to see to the implementation of the Cultural Arts Plan of 2000 and tasked with oversight of public art.
    3. In reality Community Services and the Anaheim Arts Council have probably more engaged and active with the aspects of the Cultural Arts Plan, and Art in Public Places (AIPP) over many years.
    4. We therefore propose closer collaboration between the Commission and the Anaheim Arts Council, particularly in the process of identifying, cataloging and recognition of public Arts.
    5. We propose that the responsibilities of the Cultural and Heritage Commission be revisited and strengthened, that it work more closely with other arts organizations, that it have a budget, and have the capability to perpetuate its agenda across succeeding years even though commissioners change.
  12. Budgeting for the Arts
    1. There is little debate that every great city which ever cared about its self image, its architectural ambience, and the quality of life for its citizens has invested in the arts. Great cathedrals, mighty galleries, magnificent central piazzas, grand coliseums, spectacular gardens, memorials of valiant victories, they have, in varying degrees, been the outcome of philanthropy combined with the public purse.
    2. The Anaheim Arts Council recognizes the enormous contribution of Community Services to the lives of the people of Anaheim through their imaginative arts and cultural programs, and the dedicated service of it personnel.
    3. Anaheim City Council should consider that the value of the arts is so great that it would be an oversight not to make further budget allocations to support the arts and at least some of the policy recommendations described in this document.

Art is the emotional order of life.
Art is the bridge which underscores everything.

One Reply to “Arts and the City of Anaheim”

  1. Here is much food for thought. The various proposals have major merit but the most compelling centers on the responsibility of the city to value and appreciate those who struggle to provide quality cultural experiences and opportunities with seemingly little notice from official sources.
    In addition to financial support there are numerous ways the city could support such cultural art experience. The Orange County Symphony (OCS) desperately needs rehearsal space that can be reliably available. For every concert performance at least 3 rehearsals are needed, accommodating 50 plus musicians. The space should be at ground level and be available evenings and weekends. (Most musicians work at day jobs during the week.) There are also many marketing tools available though the city. Announcements of upcoming concerts, auditions for youth orchestra, these are just the beginning.
    In the “about Anaheim” on the city web site…OCS is not even mentioned in spite of being designated as the Resident Symphony Orchestra for the City of Anaheim since 2011.

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