Archive for June, 2010

June 24, 2010

Crimes and misconceptions: covering arts and entertainment in VC

In the past week a few prickly issues have become lodged in my gmail, so I figured I would address them here, if for no other reason than to stop the itching.

1. Coverage, or how one gets a piece of VCR’s valuable real estate:

It’s rumored that in order to get ink in our publication, one must be an advertiser. This is, of course, false and anyone who actually reads on a regular basis would know it. Why people insist on perpetuating this nonsense is beyond me, and the irony is, our advertisers are frequently miffed about not getting editorial love. So if advertisers aren’t getting it, and no one else is getting it, then who the heck is getting it? Answer: people, places, occurrences, creations that are interesting,  fresh, relevant and in some way impacting the county’s cultural  evolution. It never hurts to drop us a line if you’ve caught wind of such, as we are not omnipresent or telepathic (contrary to popular opinion.)

2. Locals only policy:

We are the only publication in Ventura County (or anywhere for that matter) that gives exclusive priority to locals. I cannot emphasize enough how rare this is. From what I can tell, no one else in the U.S. does this, especially for music. We will not (as long as I’m arts editor) ever review a CD by an artist living outside Ventura County. The only time you will read about someone or something not produced within the geographical boundaries of this county,  is if they are exhibiting or touring here. Sorry Santa Barbara, sorry SLO, sorry L.A.–someone needs to champion the talent here and if that’s a crime, then I stand accused! (insert appropriate emoticon) That said, if you feel we’re overlooking anything or anyone, drop us a line.

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June 3, 2010

The NEW new art city

Long ago in a galaxy far away, some people in that cool old building on Poli and California streets, decided it would be a good idea to give the city of Ventura an identity.  At the time, (pre-911, pre-economic disaster) cultural tourism was a fairly new concept and people governing the city were beginning to realize how dominant a force the arts were here.  Two plus two equaled California’s New Art City and a marketing plan/identity was born.

Not coincidentally, this came at a time of redevelopment downtown– the Laurel Theater (Rubicon Theatre Company), Ventura Music Festival, the Artists Union Gallery and the Century 10 movie theater, materialized during this period.  At the same time, historic preservation was being embraced as a crucial element of downtown Ventura’s cultural, and was folded into the cultural tourism plan.

All these years later, we have some amazing accomplishments to show for this change in direction: most notably: Bell Arts Factory/Vita Art Center, Working Artists Ventura (WAV), Ventura Film Society and the ongoing county museum expansion (which will partially unveiled on July 3).  Add to that a couple handfuls of art galleries and studios, festivals and a local music scene that if properly fertilized could yield big dollars and national recognition for Ventura, and it becomes difficult to understand why there  is so much empty commercial space downtown.

Clearly it’s time to reassess and reimagine.  We should be proud, we’ve accomplished much, but if we are to survive this economy and a changing market, we need to wise-up.

Recent changes within city government reflect both the need to reshape our vision and the willingness on the part of city officials to adapt. Eric Wallner, formerly the Cultural Affairs Manager for Ventura, is necessarily molting in order to respond, to this somewhat urgent need for a new phase. Wallner, along with others, will be turning his focus to the creation of jobs that will help sustain us culturally and economically. This means finding ways to court businesses that employ creatives and others.

This will undoubtedly be a big part of the discussion at the second annual economic summit “Partnering for Prosperity” to be held Saturday, June 12 at 8 p.m. Anyone interested in taking this city to the next level, artistically, culturally and economically, should consider attending.

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