Ventura arts and inclusivity

It’s been an emotional few weeks in Ventura’s arts scene with discussion of substantial cuts to the city’s arts budget on everyone’s lips. Many of the city’s most prominent arts figures stormed the podium at the last two city council meetings to dissuade the council from nixing a handful of “public art” projects and cutting nearly 46 percent from the overall arts budget.

In the midst of his impassioned plea, Joe Cardella (Art Life Magazine)–whom I have great respect for, made reference to the “New Bar City” he feels downtown Ventura is in danger of becoming, vs. the “New Art City” we are attempting to become.

While perhaps we don’t want to trade our identity as an arts-driven community for one of a bar scene, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater: within that “bar scene” is a vibrant music culture. For the first time in more than a decade, live music in Ventura is not only being made, it’s being attended in almost record numbers.

I heard a lot of talk about the arts being an economic engine for the city and I would venture to guess a fair amount of revenue is generated via alcohol and food sales from venues that are thriving because of the musicians who perform there (for ridiculously outdated wages).

I know artists of all forms of expression to be an inclusive people and I would caution our visual artists to take care when making statements about the “bar scene” that inadvertently show disrespect to a key component of this city’s cultural landscape.


3 Comments to “Ventura arts and inclusivity”

  1. I love you too.


    Happy Spring, my lady.

  2. A few Sundays ago I was downtown for an afternoon gig to support Doug Johnson playing at Cafe Bella. It was great to see so many people out to hear music there, and at the Watermark, and then at Charlines.

    So while I agree it’s great to have music, I see Joe’s point: it seems there are a lot more bars downtown and a lot less diversity in terms of shops.

    What I miss is a coffee house like Voltaire, 2 West or Ash Street coffee house…

  3. Yes, we are sorely lacking a coffee house. I mean there is Palermo, but it’s not the same.

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