Hundreds of people, including Donna Granata (Focus on the Masters) Erik Reel and Karyl Lynn Burns (Rubicon Theatre), showed up for the Arts and Prosperity Candidates Forum and Straw Poll at the Four Points Sheraton last week to learn more about Ventura City Council candidates’ positions on arts funding and arts as an economic engine. Organized by former Oxnard Downtown Management District Arts Impact Director and occasional VCReporter contributor Tracy Hudak, candidates revealed their personal connections to the arts and strategies for relighting the torch the city once carried for the arts. Following the forum a straw poll was conducted with challenger Richard Francis taking the majority of the votes, followed by Lorrie Brown, Neal Andrews and Erik Nasarenko. Mayor Mike Tracy was second to last.

Congratulations to Ventura County Arts Council Art Stars award winners, which included artist Maggie Kildee (Individual Artist Serving the Community), Conejo Players Theatre (Nonprofit Arts Organization) and The Collection at Riverpark (Business Supporting the Arts). The Collection, which has received quite a bit of attention for its partnering with local talent, also donated $5,000 to the Arts Council.

California Lutheran University received a huge donation from the estate of its first employee, Ethel Beyer, who died at the age of 104. The gift, in excess of $800,000, will be added to a $1.1 million fund created for the construction of an arts center. The University is touted for its theater arts department as well as its arts programming, which includes the Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival.

The Channel Islands Maritime Museum was awarded a $5,000 grant, over two years, from Ventura County Community Foundation’s Heritage Fund. The grant will be used for curriculum development for Maritime History Youth Education Programs — A New Core Component: Port of Hueneme and Channel Islands Harbor History and Role in Ventura County. The Channel Islands Maritime Museum has a 22-year-long history of delivering local, regional and national maritime history to our Ventura County youth. These programs have reached an average of 3,000 students annually.

The New West Symphony has announced the appointment of new principals and section leaders within the orchestra. They are: assistant concertmaster, Marisa Sorajja; principal viola, Lauren Chipman; principal oboe, Lara Wickes; principal clarinet, Joshua Ranz; second clarinet, Ran Kampel, principal bassoon, Duncan Massey; and principal tuba, P. Blake Cooper.

The Ventura Music Festival will celebrate the opening of its 20th anniversary season, “Festivo!” with a concert by Ventura County native Sean Chen, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition bronze medalist. “We are very excited to open the 2013-2014 season with Sean Chen as our featured artist,” said executive director Ellen Pasternack. The performance will be Nov. 15 at Ventura Missionary Church.

The arts community said goodbye to two very beloved people recently. Artist and educator Carlisle Cooper died at the age of 94. The highly esteemed Cooper had a long career and was widely collected in the U.S. and Europe. Among his awards was the city of Ventura’s Mayor’s Art Award for Arts Educator. Poet Joyce La Mers passed away on Oct. 4, following a stroke. Her memorial service will be on Saturday, Oct. 26. Earlier this year La Mers was honored by the Ventura County Arts Council as a literary treasure.

Blackboard Gallery at Studio Channel Islands Art Center Nov. 18 is the artist entry deadline for “In the Detail: Small Works,” the December exhibit. The exhibition is open to all artists, and all media are welcome. The size for small works may not exceed 12 inches in any direction, not including frames. Entries must be made by email or photo CD. For details and submission requirements go to

Santa Paula Art Museum is looking for student art to be featured in its annual Art About Agriculture exhibition. Deadline for submission is Nov. 1. Please visit