LIVERMORE — Claiming that the arts contribute to Livermore’s livability and economic strength, city officials on Monday unveiled “Creative Livermore,” a study to launch a 10-year effort to strengthen the city’s current cultural venues. city and expand its future offerings.
The 2022 report, “Creative Livermore – A Blueprint for the Future of Arts and Culture,” found that although Livermore is a “local arts hub with an active creative community and a variety of cultural venues,” it has limited opportunities for young people and families to participate in diverse, accessible and free artistic activities. The study also revealed that Livermore will need to find more money to achieve its vision, including increasing affordable production space for artists and their creations.
“The key findings are very important and they represent what the public cares about – the idea that we are doing more participatory business,” Vice Mayor Gina Bonanno said during a discussion of the report at the council meeting. from Livermore on Monday evening. .
The discussion also raised concerns about the status of the Bothwell Arts Center and its viability in the future. Located on 8th Street, The Bothwell offers classrooms, rehearsals, performances, events and studio rentals for artists, musicians, theater groups, actors and choirs.
After Councilman Robert Carling and Bonanno expressed concern about its future, following a public comment from a resident, Mayor Bob Woerner suggested the Livermore Area Recreation and Parks District is likely to demolish.
Responding to concerns, Brandon Cardwell, director of innovation and economics at Livermore, said it had recently come to his attention that there were questions about the future of Bothwell.
“As I understand it was placed on a list that questioned whether it would be available indefinitely for its current use,” Cardwell said. “So one of the things we need to do on the staff side is reach out to all of our partners, including LARPD, and understand what is the current inventory of buildings available to our local arts community, and how much they are certain to be available. What is the delta of what we have versus what we need and are we planning around that? »
Carling said the Bothwell “has been a problem for some time”.
“I think it’s worth looking into because I think it’s played a big role in the arts community to date, and I think if we lost that it would be a huge blow to that community,” Carling said.
The 55-page report did not provide a path on how increased arts and culture programs in the city will be funded and raised the fact that there is “substantial concern about funding for arts and culture.” ‘where it might come from’.
“The Chamber of Commerce is concerned about a potential increase in the current arts development requirement, arguing that the business community already supports the arts in Livermore through existing art fees and contributions,” the report continues. .
Barbara Goldstein, consultant at Art Builds Community (ABC), explained in an interview with The Independent after the board meeting that since the plan is still in its early stages, it is too early to know where the funding will come from. However, she noted that staff will consider various options and look at what has been done in other cities; resources will be identified later when the city works on its annual budget.
“What Creative Livermore has done is establish a framework and priorities, and those priorities will then be implemented within the context of other plans that the city puts forward during its annual budget cycle and within the context of other economic development goals,” Goldstein continued. .
The report touted venues created as a result of a plan drafted in 2007 to develop arts and culture venues in the city, including the development of First Street and surrounding areas as a destination for restaurants, shopping, arts and entertainment; the placement of sculptures, murals and artistic activities downtown; the opening of the 500-seat auditorium and outdoor plaza of the Bankhead Theatre; and adopting public art requirements for new structures and open spaces.
“I liked the emphasis on putting and bringing art to where people are going, instead of expecting people to come to where they are. Things like the library, schools, town hall, Bankhead, outdoor facilities,” Bonanno said at the meeting. “People bumping into art in unexpected ways is an awesome, impressive part of what this plan could offer people.”
In a presentation to council, Brandon Cardwell, Livermore’s director of innovation and economic development, discussed a more than year-long process that surveyed residents, business owners and visitors about Livermore’s cultural ecosystem.
The results will be used to shape how the city’s Arts Commission proceeds with its plans, as well as its budget, to develop venues for the arts.
The report – which does not identify any specific project or cost – sets several goals, including partnering with external organizations to create and promote artistic and cultural experiences for residents and visitors; promote diversity, equity and inclusion in arts and culture; support participatory artistic and cultural activities for families; develop adequate resources to align arts investments with other community priorities; and creating access to affordable spaces for artists and arts organizations.
During a study by ABC, more than 30 interviews were conducted. Among the discoveries:
Downtown Livermore is a major asset, a community “living room” where people gather. The arts, including Bankhead Theater events, murals, free concerts and the nearby Bothwell Arts Center, contribute to the vitality.
The completion of the Quest Science Center and the SPARC Theater will contribute to the downtown area.
The city should engage more diverse members of the community in the arts as audience members, presenters, performers, volunteers and leaders.
Livermore has a good selection of arts resources and offerings, but needs more free activities and events for people of a wide variety of backgrounds, ages and abilities; participatory opportunities; diverse cultural representation; and the financial stability of existing not-for-profit arts and culture organizations.
The study also found that nonprofits, community groups, and artists find it difficult to find affordable space for meetings, rehearsals, events, and storage. The report indicates that those who support and participate in the arts are aging; the interest of the younger generations must be cultivated.
“Participants highlighted the importance of understanding the Tri-Valley region as an interdependent arts community and fostering collaboration and partnerships that extend beyond a single city,” the report states.
Among the study’s suggestions: Organize a free, multi-location, regional and multi-cultural music festival that showcases the wide range of local musicians and venues; creation of an arts and wine festival; and creating more opportunities to enjoy the visual arts, such as a sculpture garden, art display panels and an outdoor gallery.
The biggest concern was how to fund the plan. The study included suggestions for community grant programs but did not include funding suggestions, which Bonanno noted.
“It’s going to take more resources than we have right now, I guess,” she said. “How much do we spend on public art? Where are the sources of income? And – do we need to implement more fully – what has been proposed here? If we want to do what we say we want to do, we are going to have to find additional sources of funding.
After members of the public and City Council members Bob Carling and Bonanno expressed concern about the future of the Bothwell Arts Center building, Mayor Bob Woerner suggested partnering with the Livermore Area Recreation and Parks District ( LARPD) for projects. LARPD owns the building, which he said is likely to be demolished.
“We have to partner here,” Woerner said. “We need to partner with LARPD and take it seriously.”
Meanwhile, in another presentation, Acting Airport Manager Sean Moran told the council that the city continues to develop a new waiting list policy for its hangars at Livermore Municipal Airport. The waiting list, which currently has 127 companies for the airport’s 27 largest hangars, has a turnover rate that can exceed 10 years. A new policy, which came under scrutiny last year when it was revealed that a company held more hangars than the law allowed, will be presented to the Airports Commission at the start of 2023. The policy will also include new rental rates, Moran said.
The city is also working on policies for new developments at the airport. A project moratorium is currently in place.
In other news, a drought discussion revealed that Livermore Municipal Water customers reduced their water use by 12.4% from October 2021 to September 2022; Use by California Water Services (CWS) customers was down 15% over the summer, indicating that residents are taking water conservation efforts seriously.
“It’s a trend we love to see,” said CWS’ Anthony Meyer.
Woerner asked the city attorney and police chief to consider whether the city should enact a law making it a crime for moviegoers to watch illegal “shows.” During sideshows, motorists take control of intersections or streets and perform driving maneuvers called “doughnuts”, which create circular skid marks on the roadway. Large crowds often gather.
Maneuvers are illegal. Woerner noted that San Jose made it a crime for passers-by to watch.
Woerner cited the need following a sideshow about a month ago at First and L streets.
“I believe we have a growing problem with side shows,” Woerner said. “I think it’s time for us to strengthen our parallel orders.”