Budgetary woe may have been the overriding theme for the arts in 2011, but 2012 saw enough completion and expansion to offer hope even in times of economic uncertainty — and plenty of change. Some of the more impressive achievements included the reopening of Green Art People, which has continued to be a haven for authentic expression and creative community; the stunning debut of the Pacific Shores Philharmonic; MB Hanrahan’s heroic recovery from a broken femur; the completion of the Ventura College Performing Arts Center; Camarillo Skyway Theater’s brave transformation, and Paul Lindhard’s “Welcome to Ventura” sculptural gateway that was made as a memorial to a little girl who passed away in 2005.
The Museum of Ventura County bade farewell to its longtime executive director Tim Schiffer, who took a position at the Figge Art Museum in Iowa. Robin Woodworth stepped up to fill in on an interim basis. Jim Rice was named executive director of Bell Arts Factory. Ventura Music Festival appointed Ellen Pasternack to the position of executive director, and the Ojai Music Festival welcomed Abhijit (Ab) Sengupta as its new executive director after Jeffrey Haydon moved to New York to accept a position as chief executive officer of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. Eric Wallner, creative economy specialist for the City of Ventura, weathered many a storm with grace and flexibility during his six-year tenure as one of the city’s cultural leaders but he is moving on to Virginia, where he will be the chief executive officer of the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Personnel changes were many in 2012 but there was also no shortage of location changes. Artists Union Gallery lost its home with ocean view as the city prepares to make changes to the property. Fortunately, it was given temporary shelter at 89 S. California St., formerly the Museum of Ventura County’s transitional space. Elite Theater announced plans to move from its location in Heritage Square to the former Maritime Museum space, where it will have more room and no pillars to obstruct the view. The Maritime Museum settled into its new home at the Channel Islands Harbor. Transport Theatre made a big comeback this year as it found a home at Ojai Youth Entertainers Studio (OYES), the former home of Theater 150.
Crowd funding became the method du jour for getting projects paid for this year, and there were many individual artists who were successful with their Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, as well as others who did it the old-fashioned way. Dianne Bennett and Scott Gordon were both happy recipients of $3,000 grants from the Gerd Koch and Carole Milton Grant for Professional Visual Artists of Ventura County. Larger groups didn’t do too badly either. The Ojai Music Festival received a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support its 2013 season. The Santa Paula Art Museum received a $1 million gift from Lecil “Lee” Cole to honor his wife, Jeanette, who was a docent and a great supporter of the museum. Janss Marketplace donated $10,000 to the Conejo Recreation and Park District to support local arts and teen programs.
Longevity isn’t so easy to come by in the arts as funding is usually tenuous, yet Ventura County boasts an admirable number of long-standing organizations. In 2012, the Camarillo Art Center celebrated an impressive 40 years and the Carnegie Art Museum celebrated 25. The Museum of Ventura County, which is about to celebrate its 100th year, commemorated Art/Life magazine’s 25th year with an exhibition and talk by publisher Joe Cardella. Regenerate Films had its 10th anniversary and Rubicon its 15th.
Of course there were lots and lots of awards. Ventura Mayor Arts Awards went to Barbara Meister, Johanna Spinks, Debbie Fox, Lorenzo DeStefano, Pam Cohen and Katrina Maksimuk. Donna Granata received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts from the city of Ojai and Focus on the Masters was honored by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. Rubicon Theatre Company received its usual host of accolades from the larger theater community, and the Four Star Alliance recognized its members for their stage achievements.
In memoriam: Douglas Malcolm Spaulding, Dorothea Grossman, gauvin, Barry Alan Berkus, Sally Davis.