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Bob Kellar: Live from City Hall

Posted: February 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

In Santa Clarita, the arts influence our community’s quality of life. Without even realizing it, the arts act as an economic driver — creating and supporting jobs, generating revenue and serving as a cornerstone of the tourism industry.

If done right, the arts can play a key role in helping strengthen the economy.

Our community is blessed to have a variety of art-focused schools and non-profit organizations that inspire creativity and innovation, including the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of Canyons, California Institute of the Arts, the ARTree Community Arts Center, and the Santa Clarita Artists’ Association.

With a wealth of artistic talent right here, the city wants to showcase all that’s happening locally and provide opportunities for the growing arts community to thrive.

One of the city’s most important partners in this effort is our dedicated five-member Arts Commission, which includes Chairman John Dow, Vice Chairwoman Susan Shapiro, and commissioners Gary Choppe, Dr. Michael Millar, and Paul Strickland.

Each of these representatives serves a valuable role in providing direction to the City Council on investing resources and funding to support the arts.

Since its creation in December 2009, the Arts Commission has championed a variety of arts programs. One of these is the Arts Blueprint, which serves as a plan for the Arts Commission and city leadership to bring attention to key areas in Santa Clarita’s arts community.

The detailed Arts Blueprint plan identifies five focus areas, including public art, arts education, arts venues, marketing and communications, and leadership and development.

One of the areas identified in the Arts Blueprint is increasing public art projects in the community. As a part of this effort, the city added four public art pieces in the last year, including both a metal and a wood sculpture added along the South Fork Trail, a median sculpture installed in front of Central Park, and a new "STROLL" audio art tour, which was created by CalArts students for the South Fork Trail.

In addition to these completed projects, the city is also working on four new public art efforts, which will be complete by the end of 2013.

These projects include new bike racks at City Hall, which were designed by local artist Shuko Nielsen, and two public art pieces that will be added to the McBean Regional Transit Center, created by artist Mark Grieves.

The city is also in the process of looking for artists for upcoming art developments such as a median art piece, which will be on display along Newhall Ranch Road near the industrial area, and an art project added to the Magic Mountain/Interstate 5 freeway exit.

Another public art piece that’s currently under way is the Newhall Roundabout Project. One of the priorities for the revitalization of Old Town Newhall is the installation of a roundabout that will not only improve traffic circulation in the area, but also serve as a gateway into Old Town Newhall and the city.

Within this roundabout will be an iconic piece of art that symbolizes the rich heritage and history of the Newhall area. For this art project, which will be installed in early 2014, the city is currently reviewing submittals from more than 70 interested artists.

Art projects prominently displayed in public areas are a great way to showcase local talent and expose our residents to cultural diversity.

In addition to a variety of public art projects, the city also has an arts exhibit program, which currently includes rotating shows at various exhibit sites throughout the year.

Local artists can have creations displayed at prominent areas in Santa Clarita, including the first floor gallery at City Hall and the community wall at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.

For more information about Santa Clarita public art projects, contact the city’s Arts and Events Office at 661-250-3787 or visit www.Common-Spaces.com.

Bob Kellar is the mayor of Santa Clarita and can be reached at bkellar@santa-clarita.com.

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