Over pizza, artists and others discuss concerns

By Raiza Giorgi

Artists and art-inspired folks talked about ways to increase knowledge of programs and services available in the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara County during a pizza party at Elverhoj Museum of History and Art in Solvang on July 12.

People from several organizations talked about their concerns, needs, opportunities and challenges of being artists in the area. Poets, playwrights, actors, painters, sculptors, photographers and those who appreciate their craft voiced their opinions and shared suggestions of how to work with each other. They also enjoyed pizza from Tower Pizza in Solvang.

“At the Wildling we promote art within nature and the conservation ethic. We have opportunities for local artists in the tri-counties (San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura) to show their art. We have partnered with the Santa Barbara Zoo where they are currently showing art from students at Solvang Elementary School, giving them a way to express animal art. Fostering more partnerships would be a great way to teach youth about working collaboratively, and getting more art exposure,” said Stacey Otte-Demangate, executive director at the Wildling.

According to the Arts and Economic Prosperity study by the Santa Barbara Arts Commission, events related to spending by arts and cultural audiences totaled $72.3 million (excluding the cost of admission) in 2015. More than 2.5 million people watched or attended an art-related event, the industry supported 5,857 jobs, and it generated revenue of almost $20 million for local and state governments, according to that research.

Representatives of other organizations expressed a need to have a community calendar within the Santa Ynez Valley so that both residents and tourists know what art exhibits or events are scheduled.

“We need more awareness of art, and we have so many amazing talented artists in our area,” said Rebecca Gomez of Santa Ynez Valley Arts.

SYV Arts hosts a monthly Art Salon, with the most recent at Pavlov Art Gallery in Solvang. They also host “Second Saturday” events at Gallery Los Olivos.

Artists who attended included photographer George Rose, contemporary artist and writer Robbie Kaye, art museum directors such as Otte-Demangate and Esther Jacobsen Bates of the Elverhoj, and Sarah York Ruben of the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture.

Other Santa Ynez Valley notables included Shelby Sim and Danielle Laudon of VisitSYV, Solvang City Councilwoman Joan Jamieson, Chamber of Commerce representative Susie Harrison, and 3rd District County Supervisor Joan Hartmann.

“We need to help our artists in getting their studios committed to where they can host people and talk about their craft. It was a disappointment during the Artist Studio Tour a few years ago, which shut down art in the valley. The process needs to change, and I am willing to help that happen,” Jamieson said.

Hartmann also said that she will continue to work on ensuring that art programs and artists are being served.

“I would love to bring more art opportunities to places in the county that might not see it all that much, not just in the cities,” Hartmann said.

For more information about the study or the Arts Commission, log onto www.sbartscommission.org.