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April 18, 2004


Dan Fontes

Hi Suki,

I’m responding to that question you raise…What could the Cultural Affairs Commission do?

The vision thing-y baby!

Most members of the CAC sit there like stones and NEVER put forth a vision! Or any action items! Jerry originally said, he was going to give the CAC free reign to develop their own vision and he’d help carry it out. In response, I wrote a “One Hundred Murals for Oakland” proposal that Jacques Barzaghi (one of the former Art Dept. directors) never took out of the envelope!

Over time we’ve seen that the Mayor had no personal vision for the arts and didn’t seem interested in the visions of anyone else. Well actually they did lure the Crucible to the Acorn, so they did at least one thing right.

But history lessons aside...the CAC is still in a very powerful position to advocate to the City Council on behalf of Oakland's artist and arts non-profit groups. But they don't do it. My question is why? Set aside the fact that there is no money for just a second...Does that mean that it's NOT a car mechanic's DUTY to give a penniless car owner safety advice about a dangerous vehicle? Or at least give some friendly advice to a person about another car that's a good deal? The point is that it's still up to the members of the CAC to do their job and point the Council and our fellow citizens of Oakland in the right cultural direction.

What does that mean? How about sharing the working cultural examples from other cities. How about suggestions for things like arts symposiums, workshops or educational forums where regional strategies are discussed or at least considered?

As you know, there was a time when the CAC made recommendations to the staff of the Cultural Arts Department about what the citizens of Oakland need in terms of arts. Here are some easy examples:

-A development of a neighborhood arts center plan or Citywide blueprint for specific locations throughout Oakland.
-A comprehensive public art maintenance needs survey-(not just one that includes Oakland sponsored works).
-A couple of photos of our public art collection on www.oaklandculturalarts.org with an interactive map might make sense.
-Increased theater venues/site development.
-Ways to find/increase secured revenue sources for arts non-profits.
-Expansion of arts education programs in the Oakland Public Schools.
-REAL promotion/marketing to a worldwide audience of Oakland's cultural offerings!
-More funding for public art!
-A recognition that technologies for making outdoor murals "permanent" for a public art commissions exist.
-An arts district, or multiple arts districts (given how geographically big Oakland is) should still be considered.

This stuff isn't rocket science. The problem as I see it is the "too many generals and not enough soldiers" syndrome. With all the big-shots on the CAC there are few people with time enough for anything extra. Many, like Chris Johnson, the Chair of the CAC, are at the limit of what one individual can do!

Anyway, Great to see your blog. Thanks for patching it all together. Nice going! Sorry about the long letter here.


PS Thanks for the patch to my site and could you put www.proartsgallery.com in with the arts non-profit/cultural venues links?


hey, i just thought you should know that Oaklandia comes from my comic "the Adventures of Pipu." which takes place in Oaklandia, the mixture of Arcadia, Antlantis and Oakland. The place that never existed. Anyhow, just letting you know!

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