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June 28, 2022

Back to the future for the arts

It has become obvious that your opinion has been heard loud and
It has become obvious that your opinion has been heard loud and clear. You, San Benito County, want to reorganize an arts advocacy group that will make our community wealthier and become a destination to art aficionados.

And so I want to thank everyone who attended the introductory meeting of San Benito County artists and shared their passion, their experiences, asked questions and voiced their support to develop an organization to benefit the arts. Who showed up? Twenty-seven community members representing a variety of artistic genres and interests including painters, sculptors, actors, musicians, film makers, photographers and singers.

We think the poets and dancers may have been booked for other gigs. But we packed the office of the Community Foundation anyway and made a lot of progress towards developing a new organization.

First, I want to thank my wife Lynda who quietly works behind the scenes and whom I always take for granted. She stands by me and supports me and she is organizing this nascent movement, something I’m not very good at.

I want to thank Gary Byrne and the Community Foundation for San Benito County for hosting this meeting and offering its fiscal stewardship.

Kathy Johnson was fantastic as facilitator providing a positive environment, focus and leadership during the meeting. And Kathleen Sheridan shared her knowledge and experience based on her ten-year association with the former San Benito County Arts Commission and the services it offered to the community in general and arts in the schools particularly.

Moving forward with establishing an arts council will be like going Back To The Future.

Next, I want to thank the following elected representatives for their leadership and support of this cause. County Supervisors Anthony Botelho and Jaime De La Cruz, Judge Steve Sanders, Hollister Councilmen Brad Pike and Robbie Scattini and Gavilan College director Kent Child.

Special thanks to interim County Administrative Officer Susan Lyons and Interim Hollister Redevelopment Agency Director Bill Avera for their input. The positive interaction between agencies and representatives provides a great deal of hope for the development of a comprehensive arts program in our community.

This was another stellar example of democracy in action and leaders listening to their constituents.

Almost everybody wants the same thing: a community center with a positive program that will attract the interest and meet the social and intellectual desires of all community members.

The big difference is that we now have the leadership in place to listen and support the arts, rather than those who killed the program a few years ago. (Confidential to Mr. Former Supervisor, I don’t know about anyone else, but yes, I think you did fall off of a truck).

Personally, I look forward to more summer concerts, talent shows, art and wine events and visiting artist programs in the schools. And if there is something that you are passionate about or interested in, please join the movement.

We are still in the process of developing a vision for this program and are actively seeking input and support from the community, especially the youth and senior citizens.

My new e-mail for this program is: [email protected] or I can still be reached at [email protected]

Thank you Ray Becker and DMB Inc. Yes, I appreciate the opportunity to have intelligent dialogue with a new business that is seeking input from the community.

I supported the San Juan Oaks project because it promises to create jobs and improve the local economy. And San Juan Oaks did the same thing DMB is doing which contributed to its success as a project, they listened to the community.

Soon, San Juan Oaks will begin construction on their development (which is not a bad word) and filling a need for resort recreation and tourism in San Benito County.

And frankly, not too many developers go the extra mile in seeking input from the community for their projects. If you call that wooing for support, then woo me some more.

Mike Smith lives in Hollister and is interested in public policy, music and the arts. He works in the water utility industry in Salinas. Reach him at [email protected]

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