An open letter to Artists and Art Community Based Organizations of the Oxnard Plains area




cialis arial, cialis sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;”>By Armando Vazquez

The Acuna Art Gallery and Community Center at the Café on A stands in solidarity with the Oxnard Cultural Arts Commission (OCAC) which proclaims that, “the arts must be woven into the fabric of everyday life all residents of Oxnard.” Sadly, the facts that have emerged in the past year are that some commissioners of the OCAC are determined to destroy the hugely successful work that was initiated by the Oxnard Cultural Arts Committee.

Here are the facts –  Historically over a 5-6 year period the Oxnard Cultural Arts Committee worked in democratic, transparent and inclusionary community round table (mesa redonda) monthly meetings protocol ( just like sausage making: messy, contentious, but very good for the community); Many ideas were incorporated into a final product. A lot of work got done, including a state of the arts Request for Proposal (RFP) process that over the past five to six years has funded approximately 100 artists and art organizations throughout the Oxnard Plains area. One of the mechanisms that permitted individual artists and fledgling arts organizations to grow was that proven fiscally sound local non-profits could act as fiscal sponsors for artists and art organizations.

The Acuna Art Gallery at the Café on A immediately assumed the daunting legal and fiscal responsibility for many of individual artists and fledgling arts organizations’ friends.  We have worked to organize, train and instruct over 50 artists and arts organizations about the RFP process, without a single problem>  Every penny was accounted for and world class art in every medium was created and flourished. An astounding number of dynamic and creative artists over the last three years have sought our fiscal sponsorship and nurturing environment. We helped these organizations without a fee, so that 36 of 50 artists or arts organizations that went through our support and training seminars and workshops who came under the umbrella of our fiscal sponsorship were funded and are now working in uniquely creative partnership in Oxnard and throughout Ventura County to provide universal access to the world of art to the entire community.

In fifty (50) years of doing arts, social justice and educational service to the community, I have never seen anything remotely as democratic and successful as the Oxnard Cultural Arts Committee coordinated in creating a paradigm shift in the way the Oxnard’s city council, artists and the community currently view art.  Just as importantly was how to make funding available to the struggling arts community. Oxnard is at that critical point of a flourishing universal people’s art evolution. Oxnard has a unique start in creating a uniquely diverse and culturally sensitive arts renaissance, and it is being led by a community of passionate artists, arts organizations and art lovers/supporters. This blending of a variety of diverse levels of art and art programming is unique and has actually been repeatedly recommended by various consultants to the city.

The current OCAC is this very moment working feverishly to destroy everything that we have thus far created; here is why:

1. The OCAC is crafting RFP language that will limit fiscal sponsorship to two (2) sponsorees for any non-profit with no documentation of how those in need of fiscal sponsorship are to qualify to apply. There is no agreement or list of which organizations in the area are ready, willing and available to serve as fiscal sponsors. Therefore, this action is ill advised and will have the effect of destroying the diversity, cultural congruence and grassroots quality of the art offerings in Oxnard. This is in direct opposition to the vision and mission statement There is absolutely no rhythm or reason for this arbitrary, capricious, and destructive RFP change. It will eliminate a realistic opportunity for many individual arts and fledgling arts organizations from competing for desperately scarce city arts funds because they will not be able to find a fiscal sponsor.

2. The OCAC is crafting RFP language that will require individual artists to prove that they have succeeded as an artist by the requirement of having had a “solo show” to “prove viability”: where is this documented as a vital ingredient of artist viability? This is so transparently in contradiction of the stated vision of incorporating art into the fabric of everyday life.

3. The OCAC is crafting RFP language that will limit OCAC funding to five (5) years for any artist or arts organization. This five (5) year limit is again is arbitrary and capricious and seems to have been fomented in the minds of one or two self-serving commissioners. What research on the stifling effect on the budding arts community was used? How was this validated by community and community artists? As it currently stands individual artists can receive a maximum of $5000 dollars in OCAC funding. The fact is very few artists receive the maximum award: most get $2500 or less; this is hardly an abuse of public funds.

4. The original Oxnard Cultural Arts Committee fought for autonomy, community governance, and expansion of the arts funds in Oxnard. That was the mandate that was understood to govern the newly appointed Mayor’s Cultural Arts Commission; on these three vital counts the new RFP has failed miserably.

There is evidence of a very dangerous, seemingly myopic, personal self-serving agenda that is being promulgated by a small minority of the OCAC commissioners. We the folks who work and live in Oxnard know the script all too well; petty, self-serving public servants becoming intoxicated with “newly acquired power” and they go immediately to self-serving interest and cronyism mode at the expense of common sense, community empowerment, self determination, and democracy. That is folks what is happening today on the Oxnard Cultural Arts Commission. We must stand up; work hard to bring back what artists and art organizations have worked so hard, so long to create; a vision of a people’s community arts movement that is, “woven into the fabric of everyday life for all the residents of Oxnard!”


Acuna Art Gallery at the Cafe On A


Armando Vazquez

Armando Vazquez

Armando Vazquez, artist, writer, educator, Executive Director of the Acuna Art Gallery at the Cafe on A and Chairman of the Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health Coalition

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