Healdsburg Creative Leadership Team gives Artists a Voice
MAY. 3, 2021
For years in Healdsburg, our city council has tried and failed to establish a permanent, productive arts and culture committee. But with the election of several new city council members to the board, they see this issue and have made the great step forward in making arts and culture a priority of the town.
For years in Healdsburg, our city council has tried and failed to establish a permanent, productive arts and culture committee. While Healdsburg has a strong arts and culture presence, with Healdsburg’s heavy tourist appeal the wants of its locals tend to get pushed aside. For instance, Healdsburg had an arts and culture committee, but it was made up of community volunteers, with no one holding a paid position, so most ideas to bring about more opportunity for artists of all fields rarely got the green light by city council and there was little push for them to be carried out. But with the election of several new city council members to the board, they see this issue and have made the great step forward in making arts and culture a priority of the town.
Their first step in accomplishing this was making a designated Creative Leadership Team of thirty two Healdsburg “residents, artists, business owners, subject matter experts, art and cultural organization representatives, members of the Healdsburg 2040 Arts and Culture work group, Parks and Recreation Commissioners, and City staff.” (www.ci.healdsburg.ca.us) On this team is none other than our Healdsburg High School art instructor, Linus Lancaster.
Lancaster was a previous member of the last art committee. “We’d formed numerous art committees over the years and tried to meet, but because it was all voluntary it never went anywhere far. It sort of fizzled out because the people were inconsistent, coming and going and not showing up at the next meeting,” said Lancaster. Fortunately, the city saw the issue and decided they wanted to take it on in a proactive way with the Creative Leadership Team.
Along with an organized team of volunteers, the city council hired a professional planning firm named the Cultural Planning Group (CPG). “Their job is to come in and work with cities and towns to build these plans for community redevelopment, from small projects to large scale installations such as putting in a whole community arts center,” said Lancaster. The CPG has partnered with the Creative Leadership Team to draft a Master Plan for arts and culture in Healdsburg going forward. Lancaster explained the plan to not be a specific agenda of things that are going to be done but rather a map for setting up infrastructure and a general plan for these projects to be able to become a reality.
The Master Plan is not finalized because the last portion of that was dependent upon a survey linked in the City’s website about art and culture in Healdsburg. The team was able to get around five or six hundred responses, and while they were hoping for more, they agreed that it was a good start. “What the survey was trying to analyze is what does Healdsburg already have that is creative and interesting and valuable, at least to its citizens? What does Healdsburg need more of? Where do you want public art to go in the future? What do we know about the level of cultural inclusivity in Healdsburg? Where are the needs for us to do better going into the future?” said Lancaster.
One of Lancaster’s greatest objectives while on this committee is to make sure art education is at the forefront of conversations about culture and art inclusivity. “The largest goal for me is to establish more communication and more collaborative projects. Not only between the different campuses within HUSD but also with the private schools and especially with the city and with the community. So I wanted them to make sure that students were always in the mix and that their ideas were valued and considered,” said Lancaster. The Creative Leadership team is always taking feedback from any and all community members, not just artists. Students from our own high school have been involved in a subcommittee for just artists, two core students being Izabel Soto and Kiran Meyer, with a number of other students who come and go.
One of the public arts projects that has already been put into action by the Creative Leadership Team is the Voices Project which contains a series of mini projects throughout the seasons. From October 30th to November 2nd, marigolds were painted in the town square for Dia De Los Muertos. From November 2020 to January 2021, 8 murals painted by local artists were put in the square to be displayed. From January to February, a walking tour of Bay Area light sculptures and video projections was installed. The next project, named “You Are Here” will feature self guided tours of local art. “There’s going to be installations all over town celebrating Healdsburg’s local resources and its beautiful landscapes. My idea is that there is art around every corner, that we just saturate the community with public art, so much so that you're tripping over it,” said Lancaster.
With the ambition and creativity in the hand of the Creative Leadership Team, it will be exciting to see what new projects this committee will accomplish.