Meet the CAC Staff, Part 3

This week brings the final installment of our Meet the Staff blog series. Unlike Part 1 and Part 2, which introduced staff specifically from our Administrative and Programs areas, these 10 employees are responsible for a variety of CAC work functions.

sandersonName: Stephanie Anderson
Title: Arts in Corrections Program Manager
Stephanie oversees the activities and contracts for our Arts in Corrections initiative, which brings rehabilitative arts programming to the inmates at every state correctional facility. Her day-to-day work is a testament to the power of the arts and serves as a big source of motivation for her: “Individuals who have gone through struggles in life and were able to overcome them, as well as those that have yet to overcome their challenges, inspire me to want to do more in this world.”
Another way she gains perspective? Through a telephoto lens. Stephanie recently bought herself a camera and has been putting it to good use with her newfound passion for photography. When she’s not taking pictures, she’s spending time with her son, Silas, occasionally indulging in some chocolate and/or Mexican food.

LBarcenaName: Lariza Barcena
Title: Administrative Analyst
Lariza’s the staff liaison to our Council members and gives admin support to our executive staff. She’s also a walking passport to multicultural delights! Lariza was born and raised in Italy, and her parents are Filipino. Her upbringing helped her become fluent in four different languages—Italian; Tagalog; English; and Ilocano, a Filipino dialect. She can converse in Spanish and French, too! It’s second nature to Lariza to immerse herself in all this big blue marble has to offer, and she does—by plane and by palate, traveling and sampling the local cuisine wherever she goes.
She’s also a talented dancer, trained in ballet, jazz, Filipino folklore dance, and hip-hop—her current love. She performs at sports games and other major events along with her crew, Boogie Monstarz, whose founder is one of the original Jabbawockeez!
Her guilty pleasure? No such thing. “I don’t feel guilty about them! Ha!”

ABCName: Anne Bown-Crawford
Title: Executive Director
You had an opportunity to get to know our director when she was first appointed by Governor Brown, but why pass up the chance to dig a little deeper? First, the job: As our director, Anne is responsible for agency administration and implementing the mission and the strategic vision of the CAC.
Now for the woman behind the work: Anne balks at the idea of choosing a favorite color. “An unfair question for an arts-immersed person!” she argues. But she doesn’t hesitate to declare her love for her five children, or her two dogs, Sadie and Kali. Anne grew up in Chicago with her four siblings, where activism was deeply instilled in her by her father, an ardent community organizer, still networking to this day. Her mother was a special education teacher. It makes all too much sense, then, that she would find the perfect hybrid of these two labors of love in her work here at the CAC, championing creative expression and lifelong learning for all as the centerpiece for healthy and happy communities.

kbrownName: Kimberly Brown
Title: Public Affairs Specialist
Kimberly—or Kim—is our communications coordinator, handling CAC’s press and outreach efforts (she may or may not have written this blog).  While not an artist herself, Kim has always had a deep love for the arts and their role in understanding the nature of humanity. She studied art history in college, has played host to a variety of gallery events, and served as a volunteer docent for galleries and museums. “It’s incredibly fulfilling to be able to meld my professional skills and my personal passions through my work here at the California Arts Council,” she says.
Beyond art, her interests are all over the map—old-school soul and R&B, etymology, perfecting the baked potato—matching up well with her favorite quote, from playwright and provocateur Oscar Wilde: “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

cfitzwaterName: Caitlin Fitzwater
Title: Director of Public Affairs
Caitlin comes to us from the East Coast. Raised in rural Western Maryland, she attended college in Baltimore and then gave into the allure of New York City, as so many young theater people are wont to do. Caitlin worked in nonprofit theaters in the Big Apple for several years before following another passion and bringing her talents to the world of public radio. She then made a pit stop in Washington, D.C. before California, Sacramento, and the CAC came calling in 2013. She’s been managing our communications, marketing, partnerships, and public events ever since. Recently, she took on her newest role as mom to her son Finn, now just 8 months old! She enjoys spending her free time in support of her husband’s woodworking business and traveling whenever possible—including a trip to Italy in the not so distant future.

akiburiName: Ayanna L. Kiburi
Title: Deputy Director
As Deputy Director, Ayanna serves as primary advisor to the Council and to our director, and is responsible for oversight of administration and program operations. Her background in public health gives her a unique perspective that allows her to hone in on strategies and opportunities where the arts and well-being intersect.
Ayanna was raised in the company of art and artists. Her father, part of the San Francisco Artist Guild, regularly took her on his travels to sell his work. Ayanna finds her own creative outlets through kinetic work, using her hands and body to dance, sing, and sew. She admires dancer Judith Jamison “for her story of triumph” and her rise to leadership as Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.
Ayanna’s name is derived from Swahili. She took this name, along with her other family members who adopted their own Swahili titles, during the Black Power Movement of the 1970s.

kkowthaName: Kala Kowtha
Title: Information Technology Specialist
Kala was born and raised in India, and came to the U.S. for graduate studies in the 1990s. In that time, she’s met her husband, gotten married, had two kids, and become our go-to for all things tech. Kala enjoys her work here at the Arts Council because she gets a better understanding of the arts and, by extension, “a better understanding of the abstract in people.” She’s inspired by the good in others, and urges everyone to consider being an organ donor, having donated a kidney herself 18 years ago to a family member in need.
One last fun (and fitting) fact she shared with us just recently: In Hindi, Kala means “art.”

llittlefieldName: Laura Littlefield
Title: Associate Governmental Program Analyst
Laura is our newest staff member, handling administrative work for internal operations and serving as our Small Business Liaison. She’s also a voracious reader, and will happily take any recommendations sent her way. Laura grew up in Humboldt County, and met her would-be husband there while working at a mom-and-pop restaurant as a high-schooler. The couple just celebrated their 20th anniversary last month! And their love of art was not to be left out of the celebration of their love for one another: Her and her husband made a visit to the small town of Mukilteo in Washington to see a piece of art at the local library, “because for years now it has served as a metaphor for our relationship and the ways we make each other better.”

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Name: Kristin Margolis
Title: Director of Legislative Affairs
We’re an active bunch here at the CAC, but Kristin is the clear frontrunner for the most FitBit steps acquired in any given day. As our liaison to the Capitol, she racks up the miles on the pedometer with her near-daily trips to the dome to talk with Assemblymembers, senators, constituent groups, and the governor’s office, keeping tabs on relevant legislation and spreading the word about the benefits of the arts.
Kristin’s favorite fruit—cherries picked fresh from the tree in her yard—should be ripening in the springtime sun as we type. When she’s not enjoying them a la carte, she’s baking them into a pie—one of her beloved hobbies, along with skiing and painting. If you’ve called her office, paged the Capitol, barked up the local fruit trees and she’s still nowhere to be found, she’s most likely fitting in some family time with her two teenage sons, playing basketball, swimming, or cooking.

wmoranName: Wendy Moran
Title: Graphic Designer
Wendy’s our resident graphic designer, making the rest of us look good by way of her bold colors and polished aesthetic. Her favorite artist is Milton Glaser, who she admires for his clean lines and simplicity that have no doubt inspired her work. Glaser once said, “There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” Wow is a word that’s always on our lips with your creations, Wendy!
Wendy’s got a side hustle as keeper of the office candy dish. Sweets are her favorite treat, and she benevolently assuages fellow staff’s sugar cravings with an oversized apothecary jar well-stocked with goodies. Plus, she frequently surprises us with pastries in the morning. Wendy, you spoil us!

And with that, you’ve gotten to know each and every one of the staff here at the California Arts Council. We’re here to serve! Don’t hesitate to reach out to whomever best can address your needs.

Support arts education before Tax Day

With each passing day, we inch closer and closer to this year’s tax deadline of April 17. We have reached peak procrastination.

If you’ve yet to file, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Nearly a quarter of Americans wait until the last two weeks to take care of their taxes.

You’re also not too late to do your part for keeping creativity inside California’s classrooms.

The latest data from Create CA shows that while participation in the arts among our students has improved, there’s work left to be done. And those who need the social and academic benefits of arts instruction the most—low-income students, English-language learners—are the ones most likely to go without.

In order for California to take home the A-plus for arts access on its report card, we need equitable access to quality arts education programs for all of our students, statewide. No exceptions.

They say taxes are one of two things that are certain in life. The California Arts Council’s Keep Arts in Schools Fund is one small way to help make creativity in California’s classrooms a sure thing, too.

Between now and April 17, make a donation of $1 or more to the Keep Arts in Schools Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund. 100% of your tax-deductible contribution is applied to arts education programming supported by the California Arts Council.

You’ll be helping grantees like About Productions bring mentoring to Pueblo Continuation High School in East L.A., helping students to create their own scripts based in the history of their community. Or Yolo Arts bring its ceramics program to elementary schools in the rural towns of Woodland and Esparto.  And you’ll help Thingamajigs teach music and innovation to students in Oakland, building instruments from everyday materials while showing students how math, physics, and design are used in their creation. And so many more.

Every dollar counts. Here’s how to donate.

P.S. If you’ve already filed, that’s OK! We’re sure you’ve got some pals who like to put things off. Help us spread the word.

California Poetry Out Loud: And the winner is…

“And our winner for this year is …”

Council Chair Nashormeh Lindo smiles before making the big announcement, as a bevy of excited high-schoolers break into a spontaneous drum roll on the Assembly floor.

The 2018 California Poetry Out Loud recitation contest has come down to this moment.

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2018 California Poetry Out Loud State Champion Alexis Rangell-Onwuegbuzia.

“… Alexis Rangell-Onwuegbuzia!” Lindo finishes with enthusiasm.

The reaction of the room speaks volumes. As cheers erupt on the floor and spread to the gallery above, it’s clear Alexis was a fan favorite, winning the approval of her peers as well as the judges. In a venue like the historic Assembly chambers, where decisions are made each day by representatives of the electorate, the occasion feels fittingly democratic.

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, administered by the CAC, Poetry Out Loud offers teens the confidence to make themselves heard, with poetry as their medium. Contestants get the chance to better understand and connect with the work of the masters through their own unique interpretation and delivery.

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Runnerup Sage Innerarity.

Over the course of the two-day final competition, Alexis captured the hearts and minds of her observers, reciting three poems with style and precision: “If They Should Come for Us,” by Fatimah Asghar, “Chorus Sacerdotum,” by Baron Brooke Fulke Greville, and “The Mortician in San Francisco,” by Randall Mann.

The Orange County senior from Mater Dei High Shcool explains her relationship with poetry as a tool to promote social change on a civic level and within the world of art itself. “The arts give me the courage to express my values with an activist’s voice in the midst of the fear and ignorance residing on both sides of the ‘fourth wall,'” she said.

Sacramento County senior Sage Innerarity of Pleasant Grove High earned the prize of runnerup. Nicholas Panyanouvong, a sophomore at James C. Enochs High in Stanislaus County took third place for the second year in a row.

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Third Place Winner Nicholas Panyanouvong.

Poetry Out Loud is a statewide combined effort—this year involving the participation of 46 counties and 261 schools, the encouragement of 783 teachers, and the dedication of 30,000 students. It takes a panel of knowledgeable judges, a cadre of CAC Council Members and staff, a guest appearance from California Poet Laureate and POL founder Dana Gioia, and the backing and encouragement of countless legislators—just to name a few.

But the county finalists are no doubt the stars, and not only for their onstage presence. Their enthusiasm for one another out of the spotlight is all the more extraordinary, as heard in that volcanic moment on the Assembly floor.

“That’s what I love so much about Poetry Out Loud,” explained Chair Nashormeh Lindo. “It is the young people’s camaraderie and genuine support of one another that makes it so much more inspiring. It makes me hopeful, seeing their authentic humanity and respect for one another.”

Alexis will go on to represent California in the national finals next month in Washington, D.C., on April 23-25. We’ll have all the details for you to tune in and watch coming soon.

Congratulations to this year’s winners, and to all the county champions!

For pics, videos, and more from the final event and the state POL program, visit our online HQ for all things California Poetry Out Loud: http://arts.ca.gov/initiatives/pol/index.php.

 

(Featured photo: The 2018 Poetry Out Loud Champions in the Assembly chambers at the California State Capitol. From left to right: CAC Deputy Director Ayanna Kiburi, California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia, Third Place Winner Nicholas Panyanouvong, Runnerup Sage Innerarity, California Poetry Out Loud State Champion Alexis Rangell-Onwuegbuzia, CAC Chair Nashormeh Lindo, CAC Vice Chair Larry Baza. All photos by Tia Gemmell.)

CA Poetry Out Loud: The final countdown

It’s been a beehive of activity at the CAC office this week, with staff buzzing around to put the finishing touches on the upcoming main event—the 2018 California Poetry Out Loud State Finals taking place this Sunday and Monday.

In just a few days, champions hailing from high schools all over California will compete for the state title, which includes a $200 cash prize, $500 toward literary materials for their school, an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., and a chance to win the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.

It’s two days jampacked with excitement, all thanks to some incredible poetry brought to you by some very tenacious teens. Through the Poetry Out Loud program—created by the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the CAC—these awesome orators have discovered not just the power of words, but the power within themselves to bring them to life and give them character.

Join us on Sunday, March 18, at 4 p.m. for Round One at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. Then we’re inside the Assembly Chambers of the state Capitol bright and early on Monday at 8 a.m. to complete Rounds Two and Three, where the third-place winner, runner-up, and California Poetry Out Loud 2018 state champion will make themselves known.

View the event page and check out the event program for more details, including a special presentation from Poetry Out Loud founder and current California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia.

 

The event is free and open to the public both days, although space is limited. Can’t make it but still want to see what it’s all about? Tune in to Assembly TV on Monday morning to catch Rounds Two and Three as they are broadcast live from the Capitol: www.calchannel.com/live-webcast.

The CAC will be busy on its social media networks during the event, too, of course! Check out our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds for regular live updates, and join the conversation using #POL18.

(Featured photo: The 2017 state finalists in the Senate chambers at the California State Capitol.)

Creative Forces San Diego: Where arts and military meet

The California Arts Council was in San Diego last week to participate in a pivotal regional event. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is now one of 11 clinical sites nationwide to join the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, aimed at leveraging creative arts therapies to improve the lives of military personnel, veterans, and their families in local communities.

More than half a million members of the armed services are currently living with traumatic brain injury or PTSD. Arts therapy integration and community arts programming can play an important role in their recovery, accomplishing goals outside the boundaries of traditional medical treatment. Recognizing California serving as home to nearly 2 million veterans and 200,000 active military members—more than any other state—identifying ways to better connect the two fields becomes an imperative.

The daylong Creative Forces Summit on December 7 rallied together military personnel with professionals in the fields of art and health for a day of presentations, panels, and performances designed to encourage collaboration and ideation in support of military and veteran families. Many locally based CAC grantees from our Veterans in the Arts program were on hand as well, to impart knowledge and offer perspective on developing arts programming specifically for veterans, and to showcase the creative work of veterans involved with their projects.

We were honored to be asked by the NEA to lead the coordination of this event, and we’re proud of the collaborations and dialogue that emerged as a result. The summit inspired many productive conversations, before and during, and continues to provoke thought leaders in the field. It’s clear that California, and the greater San Diego area in particular, is home to many innovative and impassioned people and programs serving our veterans, active military, their families and their caregivers. We’re excited for a future that will take rehabilitative arts opportunities for our military to the next level.

We’re also looking forward to an exchange of ideas with fellow Creative Forces summits being held in other states, taking advantage of one another’s available resources, sharing brainstorms and best practices to allow each site to grow cooperatively while simultaneously customizing concepts to fit each region’s needs.

Thank you to the National Endowment for the Arts for leading the charge on such a vital issue. We’re also grateful to Deputy Secretary Keith Boylan and our partners at CalVet, for their participation and their interest in how the arts can support their mission. And a most sincere thank you to the San Diego Region Creative Forces Planning Task Force, for a job well done:

Check out a few summit highlights below. For more clips from Creative Forces San Diego, visit the California Arts Council YouTube channel.

  • Keynote Address – Sgt. Benjamin Tourtelot, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired) and Lisa Fagan (17:33)

 

  • Creative Forces: From Clinical to Community Panel Discussion / Q&A (1:19:12)

 

 



Photo by Rebecca Vaudreuil

The California Arts Council's Veterans in the Arts grant program provides project support for nonprofit arts organizations, local arts agencies, and veteran’s assistance agencies to reach veterans, active military, and their families across California. Applications are now open. Visit the Veterans in the Arts page for program details. 

A Message for Grantees and Artists Affected by the Wildfires

The California Arts Council is deeply saddened by the devastation caused by the multitude of wildfires currently burning in Northern California. To our grantees, artists and their communities; to families and businesses in the region; and to all those affected by these traumatic events: Our hearts are with you.

In the wake of continued evacuations and the governor’s emergency proclamation yesterday, we are requesting that all CAC grantees in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Butte, Yuba, Nevada and Orange counties please check in with our Programs staff via phone or email if you have not done so already.

The California Arts Council website features a page of resources for artists affected by the fires, also listed below:

Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+): The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+) has emergency relief grants and interest-free loans available for eligible artists working in craft disciplines. Guidelines and eligibility are available on the CERF+ website. The application process is quick and easy, with a rapid response of 2 weeks to give artists the help they need as soon as possible.

The Joan Mitchell Foundation: The Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Emergency Grant Program is available for visual artists who have suffered physical losses due to a natural disaster that relate to their artistic practice. Click here to learn more.

MusiCares: MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. A directory of resources for musicians and other artists is available on the MusiCares website.

CAL FIRE: The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is our state’s go-to resources for up-to-date wildfire information and resources. www.calfire.ca.gov

Studio Protector: An artists guide to emergencies. A wealth of information on emergency readiness for all artists can be found at www.studioprotector.org.

State of the arts: Joint Committee on the Arts assembles voices on creative economy and creative space issues

The California Arts Council was at the state Capitol on Wednesday as artists, arts agencies, organizations and advocacy groups gathered for a seat at the table of the Joint Committee on the Arts. Joint Committee Chair Senator Ben Allen and other committee members listened intently and asked questions as various panelists expressed their views on the state of the arts in California.

At the top of the agenda was the newly released Otis Report on the Creative Economy of California, with special attention paid to the addendum white paper addressing the need for safe and affordable live-work spaces for artists. The turnout and the passion was so great, we’d thought it best to let the attendees speak for themselves, with a sampling of quotes below. You can check out the full hearing in the Senate media archive.

On the Otis Report:

“The [Otis Report] challenges the existing understanding that the arts are side activities to the ‘real’ economy. … It asks the question, what would it look like to put the economic output of creativity connected industries front and center in our economic and political initiatives?”

“It’s my hope that cities and counties throughout California can leverage the Otis Report to encourage further investments in art education, economic development and cultural planning.”

“If we could touch the invisible or some of the soft statistics, these statistics would be even higher and more productive for you to look at, I think, as a major, major engine of the economy.”

Bruce Ferguson, Otis College of Art and Design

“Artists don’t conform to the way that the government likes to collect statistics. I would say that the numbers in here are undercounted.”

“Activities based on creativity are essential components of a robust, healthy and growing economy.”

Kimberly Ritter-Martinez, Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation

On the value of the arts:

“The question is, how can we in the United States immerse ourselves so fully in arts and culture but place so little value on artists, when other countries place their arts and culture in higher regard?”

“Part of why California has been able to be the economic juggernaut that it is—the sixth largest economy in the world—has so much to do with the creativity that exists here, and the fact that so many business want to be in this creative place. For that, I am eternally grateful to our creative industry, our creative economy.”

Senator Ben Allen, Joint Committee Chair

“Being someone in education now for the past 25 years, I can tell the difference when I walk in the school whether there is a robust arts program or not. Without seeing the classrooms, without seeing what’s on the walls, there’s a feeling in the way the kids bounce through the halls.”

Donn Harris, California Arts Council Chair

“All of these different groups now understand what we as the arts sector can do, and it has fundamentally changed our relationship with the city. … This one project, with each of these agencies, it helps meet each of their discreet missions. And that’s magical. And that’s one of the things that you can do when you use the creative process to address a problem.”

“These programs matter. Arts matters. It has powerful potential to change our communities.”

Michelle Williams, Executive Director, Arts Council Santa Cruz County

“Certainly cities and developers have been using artists for ages to stimulate growth, so we need to find ways of protecting them as well.”

Teri Deaver, Vice President, Consulting and Strategic Partnerships, Artspace

“If this is what we value, we need to put a little more wood behind the arrow.”

Ron Vidal, Oakland artist and firefighter

On artist displacement:

“We really do have a challenge. There are a lot of artists out there that are struggling to do their work, and do it in a way that doesn’t break the bank. But ultimately, how do we do it in a sustainable way? …. Nobody should have to choose between having a roof over their head and having a place to make a living.”

Senator Ben Allen, Joint Committee Chair

“The community is feeling it. It’s a very public conversation. It’s a challenge for organizations like Self Help Graphics who are undercapitalized, and have historically been undercapitalized, to continue to support the community in a moment where they’re under so much pressure. It feels like a very personal attack on the community, this idea of displacement and being pushed out due to high rents.”

Betty Avila, Associate Director, Self Help Graphics and Art

On artist housing:

“Controlling real-estate, or art space, is critical to the long-term sustainability of the arts. No space, no art. No art, no good.”

Ron Vidal, Oakland artist and firefighter

“Our first obligation, especially at a state level, is to enact legislation … that will allow a sustainable model for our low-income live-work communities.”

Jonah Strauss, Oakland Warehouse Coalition

“What can we do to ensure that we have affordable housing? One is preserve what we have currently. There is a lot of displacement happening—can we extend rent stabilization and tenant protection rights to artists that are living, perhaps, in nonconforming, nontraditional housing situations in light industrial areas? Can we create special use permits in areas that have existing communities that can be put toward safe spaces that are in some of these more industrial areas?”

Teri Deaver, Vice President, Consulting and Strategic Partnerships, Artspace

“The energy, activity, and economic development created by [the Warehouse Artist Lofts] community of mostly low-income artists has exceeded even my own expectations.”

“We created a platform for artists to build a community and to do what they do best—imagine, create and inspire.”

Ali Youssefi, Vice President, CFY Development Inc.

On the aftermath of the Ghost Ship fire:

“The wider DIY community across America is under threat.”

Sinuba Solomon, Oakland artist

“We’re past the raw impact of the [Ghost Ship] fire. It was immediate, it was visceral. … But now we’ve moved into committees and proposals and policies and rules, and so now it’s about enacting change based on what is the way forward, as opposed to the urgency of the response.”

Ron Vidal, Oakland artist and firefighter

“Regardless of how aggressive the city is, we have some very reactionary landlords who go after the tenants in no uncertain terms. So we’ve had this wave of evictions. … The Oakland warehouse scene is dying.”

Jonah Strauss, Oakland Warehouse Coalition

On safety issues:

“If you don’t have a safe place to be in, you can’t function as an artist. … I mean safety from eviction, safety from fire, safety from crime, and economic exploitation, and long-term affordable work-live.”

Thomas Dolan, Oakland architect and artist

“There’s this issue of life safety people keep talking about. It’s like, of course we want to be safe, but there’s this other form of safety that’s just being able to exist as yourself, completely free. Representing your gender, representing your race, representing your history.”

Sinuba Solomon, Oakland artist

Lastly, an eloquent and simple summary for a complex problem, from the author of the Otis Report’s addendum on the artist housing crisis, Artspace’s Teri Deaver:

Students honor legacy of Armenian culture through art

On Monday, California Arts Council staff had the privilege to join legislative members in remembering the Armenian genocide. The California Armenian Legislative Caucus marked the 102nd anniversary at the state Capitol with a universal refrain of “never again.”

“Armenian-Americans have not only survived, they have thrived and enriched the fabric of our communities,” Senator Scott Wilk stated.

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Salinas High School senior Hanna Hitchcock received first prize in the 2017 California Armenian Legislative Caucus Visual Arts Scholarship competition. Second and third place winners Bora Wie and Gavny Vardanyan were also recognized.

High-school students lent their voices to the conversation by commemorating the tragedy through essay and visual art submissions, with scholarships awarded to the top three students in each category.

The visual arts contest—currently in its first year—challenged students to create two-dimensional drawings, paintings, photographs, digital illustrations and graphic design that centered on a theme of “Human-to-Human Interaction.” Members of the CAC staff assisted in judging the submissions.

At the event, Arts Council Interim Director Ayanna Kiburi highlighted the value of art in education, as well as in shaping and preserving the story of the Armenian people: “Artistic and creative expression allows us all to express our humanity, to keep cultural traditions and histories alive within our communities, and to connect deeply with each other, as Californians,” she said.