Friday, October 21, 2005

Banning Arts Colony?

Why not? Betty and I went to the first Arts District Community Forum last night. It was held at the First Baptist Church in downtown Banning. It was well attended. They had to keep adding chairs. All the City Officials were there ie. City Manager, Planner, Councilpersons. The Press was there too ie. Record Gazette and Enterprise. There were local Artists practicing in the designated area. "Ironhand" the famous muralist was there with his companion. Our town has many of his wonderful murals. There were poets, and writers from the local Writer's Chapter. There was a lady who works with children in the area and at the local schools.

We were there just to get information and see what is being planned. Betty has been taking Oil Painting Lessons from David Farrington, a local Artist who teaches in one of the area's reclaimed buildings. She likes the way he teaches. We found out that they were also wanting our "input" as locals interested in promoting the Arts. Heck, we've been doing that most of our adult lives with our sons. We really didn't have much to "input" at this time since we aren't business owners in the area and don't want to start one or support one financially. In a few years, we might be interested in supporting it in other ways. ie. attendance, participation, teaching etc.

We noticed that the Planner, Oscar Orci, got a cell phone call and had to leave before the "input" started. I would think that he would be very supportive of such an effort to "revitalize" the downtown area. There has been some positive signs in the last three years since we have been here. They had pictures of the "vacant" buildings in the area in 2002 and those same "occupied" buildings today.

Betty suggested that they plant larger trees. I'd add walkways, planters, and a "no car zone" at the center of the rather gigantic area. It is proposed to go from 4th to Alessandro and from close to the freeway to two or three blocks north. I'd say, start smaller, at the center and build out as funds etc. become available. I'd also call it a "Colony" of Artists. That sounds warmer and more involving. They talked about "incubator" buildings as a smaller, less threatening way for some artists and art related businesses to get started. Seventy percent of small business that start that way are successful. They cited smaller communities (unknowns) who have done just that. Encenitas, near San Diego, was a better known one.

It seems to me that "The Arts" has always had to rely on this kind of support and exploitation. All the early artists had their "patrons", usually richer business men or popes, who paid the bills and demanded what they wanted "artwise". Look at poor Michaelangelo and his pope. This is probably the hardest thing for an "arteest" to do. ie. "knuckle under to the Man"...with the bucks. If somehow they can keep their "self-respect" and individuality and still satisfy the local business men and those who want to make some money off of them, like their agents do, then they can succeed with some dignity and pride in themselves. So, somehow, this area "the Colony" has to be perceived by the local business men and investors as a "good risk" for their money and then "success will breed success" I'm for it, but all my "millions" are tied up in CD's, stocks and mutual funds. Bob


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