Mayor and Awardees

Arts Volunteer of the Year awardee Victor Ladd stands with Ashman and Mayor Robert Garcia as he presents the award. Photos by Danielle Carson. 

This year’s State of the Arts event drove home the message that state of the arts in Long Beach is one of progress, spirit and innovation.

The Arts Council for Long Beach (ACLB) annually hosts the State of the Arts event, which celebrates local artists and progress in the arts community by giving the council an opportunity to present upcoming projects and new grants, and this year was a year of firsts. 

In the citywide, collaborative spirit of the annual event, Friday morning’s occasion was held at the Museum of Latin American Art for the first time, and Mayor Robert Garcia, who has continually supported the arts, presented this year’s artist awards in a new-found partnership with ACLB.

“There is no question that any great international city has a great international arts component,” Garcia said. “It makes a city better, happier and helps it thrive economically.”

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Mayor Robert Garcia stands with MOLAA President Stewart Ashmann as the venue has microphone problems. “This is why fundraising for non profits is so important!” He joked. 

Garcia said that just over the last year, he has made significant changes to city leadership positions in support of the arts. He placed the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Arts Dean Cyrus Parker-Jeannette on the economic development commission, and appointed members of the art community to the Queen Mary development task force so visitors to the city are aware of the vivacious art community Long Beach has to flaunt.

Plans for the civic center project, which is expected to break ground in 2017, feature a permanent art walk and sculpture component, as well.

ACLB President Marco Schindelmann thanked Mayor Robert Garcia for his genuine interest in the arts.

“It’s truly genuine,” he said.

Mayor Garcia said became interested in partnering with ACLB when the Arts Innovator and Economic Development Arts Trailblazer awards were added to the annual categories. The introduction of the new awards also put State of the Arts on Innovate LA’s three-week calendar for L.A. Innovation Week.

This year’s awards were presented to artists who have made an outstanding impact on the arts community, with a focus on local businesses who support economic improvement projects such as mural-painting and art walks.

“Art is really part of the fabric of this city, it’s really the tapestry and business is a stitch in that tapestry,” Schindelmann said.

The backdrop for the event was a large, neon painting made for local business Groundwork Fitness by a collaboration of 16 artists from the art exchange and squeeze art collective.

Schindelmann announced that the painting is part of a whole that is expected by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the largest glow in the dark painting in the world.

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ACLB Director Victoria Bryan talks about the Arts Council’s plans over the next four years, including making the “A Lot” initiative mobile.

Next year is the Arts Council’s 40th anniversary, and ACLB Director Victoria Bryan said they have a lot planned.

Within a few years, Bryan said that ACLB plans to collaborate with an entity to bring their A Lot project to life via a mobile art space. The mobile will have high tech sound and lighting and enable A Lot to bring art, performance and talks to brighten empty spaces in Long Beach, according to Bryan. 

Bryan said the first performance season will begin in Long Beach in a few years, and over the next years will move around to other South Los Angeles communities.

“Long Beach will be represented in communities far and wide,” Bryan said.

She also announced multiple new grants and grant-making opportunities through partnerships with the city and other local businesses.

Mayor Garcia said that the Long Beach art community needs public support now, more than ever.

“The truth is, we have to get back to the place where we can provide stable public funding for the arts,” he said. “Public institutions have a responsibility to fund the arts.” 

This year’s awardees are as follows:

  • Arts Volunteer of the year: Victor Ladd
  • Arts Educator Award: Danny Flores
  • Economic Development Arts Trailblazer award: Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association
  • Arts Innovator Award: MADE in Long Beach
  • James H. Ackerman Arts Philantrhopist Award: Dr. Ronald and Sylvia Hartman, major donors for Long Beach Art Museum and the University Art Museum.

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The five awarded groups stand with ACLB members and Mayor Robert Garcia for a photo after the award presentation.