A Northern California Coastal Community that became one of the Nation’s important creative meccas. A look at the people who made that happen and why.
Bookshop Santa Cruz welcomes Kirby Scudder for a discussion and signing of his new book, The Cruz—an exploration of art and artists in Santa Cruz.
Since moving to Santa Cruz in 2003, Kirby Scudder has had the opportunity to interview hundreds of artists, arts organizers and arts advocates through his work as a radio host on KUSP Public Radio, columnist in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and Director of the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Art. His exploration into the arts in Santa Cruz over this last decade, allowed Scudder to observe parallels between the dynamics in larger cultural hubs such as New York and Los Angeles, and those cultural dynamics at work in Santa Cruz. He noted that Santa Cruz’s investment in long term strategic projects attracted creative minds from around the country, all of whom are now helping to map out the cultural future of this community. In The Cruz’ readers gets to meet many of the people who make up the creative fabric of Santa Cruz and see why last year’s Atlantic Magazine ranked Santa Cruz in top 10 of the country’s most artistic cities.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus used the metaphor of the river to represent change. “On those stepping into rivers staying the same, other waters flow.”
Heraclitus made the case that in order for the river to remain the river, change will be constant and the river’s fluidity be embraced. The Heraclitan model parallels that of living organisms, whereby in order to remain relevant and alive, individuals must constantly embrace change.
In many ways, my book “The Cruz” is about change. Since moving to Santa Cruz in 2003, change is the most consistent thing that I have witnessed, participated in and written about. It has not been just simply the change that happens as a result of time passing. It also has not been the kind of change that takes place when people correct injustices. It has been the kind of change where the community creates possibilities for the future. It has been an interesting 3,652 days of my life.
In the last decade, a $40 million arts campus has been built adjacent to the San Lorenzo River, an accomplishment that were deemed impossible in 2002. The Museum of Art & History has witnessed a renaissance under the direction of first time director Nina Simon.
UC Santa Cruz has created new initiatives for its Arts Division with the creation of DANM, its new Digital Arts and New Media facility, the opening of its Foundry along with many others. Cabrillo College completed VAPA, the college’s brand new Visual and Performing Arts Facility, creating a vibrant blueprint for the future.
Community organizers obtained licensing for a TEDx conference bringing together the best local minds in Technology, Entertainment and Design. A technology and economic incubator started in downtown Santa Cruz called “Next Space.” A 20th century gum factory was repurposed into a 21st century “Multiplex” that is also home to several galleries.
In Watsonville, the Pajaro Valley Arts Council expanded its exhibition offerings while growing its membership. Each month the community comes out to celebrate the arts on First Friday Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Art League made the change from a 19th century membership organization to a 21st century community hub with plans for expansion.
The Rio Theatre, scheduled to be demolished in 2000, became one of Santa Cruz’s most vibrant performing arts venues. The Felix Kulpa Gallery has become one of the principal galleries in Santa Cruz, showing the cutting edge work of Bay Area artists. FashionART Santa Cruz grew from a parking lot runway to a sold out annual event held at the Civic.
The Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County has changed it’s named to the Arts Council and created a dynamic vision for the future of the arts in Santa Cruz County. Individuals have stepped up and invested in the future of the arts.
Santa Cruz Rehearsal Studios opened new possibilities for emerging musicians, providing affordable rehearsal and practice space. Scotts Valley Artisans opened this past year providing a much needed exhibition space for artists in San Lorenzo Valley. The Crepe Place morphed from a restaurant into one of the top music venues for emerging musical acts in the county. And the list goes on.
At a time when all signs point to a time when the arts should be in decline, something creative is on the ascent.