Costa Mesa, CA, USA
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California Arts Council Listening Tour in Costa Mesa

Posted on July 26, 2013 | 9:39am | Travel Costa Mesa

The California Arts Council made its 9th and final stop last night in Costa Mesa as part of their statewide listening tour.  The members of the CAC have encouraged people not jut within the arts “community,” but any citizen who wished to voice their opinion about the state of the arts in California to join the discussion.

CAC Listening Tour

Thus, the idea of the listening tour was set.  The CAC promoted Californians statewide to attend the tour and “give them an earful” – and that is exactly what happened.  Orange County citizens interested in the arts gathered at The Westin South Coast Plaza in the City of the Arts last night to have their voices heard.  The location was certainly fitting as Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Repertory, both leading arts institutions in Orange County were just steps away from the meeting.

CAC Director Craig Watson and Chair Member Wylie Aitken provided a few opening remarks and praised the amount of responses the Arts Council has received from its online survey.  They were also quick to point out the power of social media and how Californians utilize the medium in positive ways.  It was further added that the CAC plans to take part in Google+ Hangouts in the future, so be sure to check the CAC website for updates.

CAC Listening TourAfter the opening remarks were finished, special guest Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the highest education post in the state offered a few comments.  He noted how rare it is for an arts institution to be given the opportunity have funding to figure out the best way to spend future funding.  He expressed his desire to introduce new programs and grants into the state.  Torlakson’s goal is to prove to other state legislature that art works meaning that funding for arts in schools and communities benefits all citizens and, as a byproduct, benefits the state of California as well.

Audience members were given note cards where they could provide their “one big idea” to the council.  Each member of the audience was allowed to have two minutes to speak and provide their ideas to the council and other members of the public.

CAC Listening TourOne audience member, Arts OC Executive Director, Richard Stein shared his thoughts on the CAC and how it relates to Orange County.  Stein gave a brief history on the arts in OC and how it has grown to become a statewide leader in arts education.

He added that in the past, OC has received less than 1% of the CAC grant money for arts funding.  Stein used the relevance, and that he believes the CAC has lost its relevance in OC.  To his point, he said despite the fact that OC has over 3 million people and Sierra County has about 3,000, each county received the same arts funding last year.

CAC Listening TourThe CAC Listening Tour is similar to attending a city council meeting when citizens provide their opinions to council members.  It’s an admirable attempt at creating awareness and fresh ideas and the task at hand for CAC council members is not an enviable one.  While there are certainly many challenges, the CAC and audience members’ passion for the arts makes everything worthwhile. The listening tour is a positive step in increasing arts educations in schools and communities.  As a city that is very much a part of the larger arts community, Costa Mesa residents should take the opportunity to visit to learn more about the CAC and to take the survey.

To be a part of the social dialogue, visit the CAC Facebook page and follow them on Twitter.  If you weren’t able to attend any of the listening tour meetings, search the hashtag #CACListens on Twitter for information and insights.