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Op-Ed: A Future for Mill Valley in the Arts?

The Community Arts Coalition hopes to rally support for a set of arts goal and policy recommendations for Mill Valley 2040 General Plan update.

The City of Mill Valley is currently developing a 2040 Plan that will establish the city’s vision, policies and priorities for the coming decades.

Mill Valley’s arts sector—which was omitted from prior planning efforts—is a defining resource that can help preserve the city’s unique character and ensure its economic vitality. That is why we have formed the Community Arts Coalition, an association of over 200 local artists, arts organizations and businesses, and their supporters to call on the city to include a strong arts and culture element in the 2040 Plan.

In the past century, Mill Valley has spawned and supported a wide array of exceptional arts organizations, facilities and events that have cemented the city’s reputation as an arts destination (e.g., Mountain Play, Fall Arts Festival, Marin Theatre Company, O’Hanlon Center, 142 Throckmorton Theatre, Outdoor Art Club, Mill Valley Philharmonic, Mill Valley Film Festival and Sweetwater).

We enjoy extraordinary arts education in our public schools thanks to our community’s commitment and support for organizations like Kiddo!, THUMB, PATH, CTE and AIM. Mill Valley is rich with art galleries, visual and performing arts schools and providers, individual artists, writers, architects, designers, production companies and more who contribute to our vibrant creative environment.

The city’s arts sector is a vital engine of the Mill Valley economy. It supports hundreds of local jobs, contributes millions of dollars in direct expenditures to our economy, and provides a vital share of the city’s tax base. The arts sector draws thousands of local residents and visitors into town each year to patronize Mill Valley stores and restaurants.

Mill Valley’s reputation for excellence in the arts and its natural beauty work hand-in-hand to increase our property values. Continued economic development through the arts will further enhance Mill Valley’s authentic, connected and unique sense of place and quality of life.

The members of our community provide crucial assistance for the arts, culture and arts education by contributing their talent, skills and financial resources. But such independent efforts do not supplant the need for coordinated civic recognition and support for our emblematic community assets.

The city of Mill Valley has an important role to play in ensuring the continued success and growth of its often-struggling arts sector by, among other things:

  • recognizing and promoting the city’s artistic identity
  • encouraging cultural development and arts-related commerce and tourism
  • fostering and facilitating the activities of arts providers
  • building positive community involvement with and support for the arts and
  • directly supporting city-sponsored arts activities and facilities

The Community Arts Coalition lobbied for, and has worked closely with, an Arts Subcommittee in the 2040 planning process to develop arts goal and policy recommendations for Mill Valley (attached at right)

The arts provisions have, thus far, been universally praised and supported by process participants. But they must still survive review by the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC), the Planning Commission and the City Council before they can be adopted and implemented.

The GPAC meet on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at City Hall to consider the arts provisions, along with other recommendations from the four 2040 Plan Working groups. Please join us in urging GPAC, and other city leaders, to support the adoption of these important arts and culture goals and policies.

To become a member of the Community Arts Coalition, email us at info@142ThrockmortonTheatre.org.

Lucy Mercer, Executive Director
Tammy Edmonson, Board President
142 Throckmorton Theatre
Coordinating Contacts for the Community Arts Coalition

Jack October 12, 2012 at 01:37 PM
As a Mill Valleyan who's enjoyed a life of working in the arts for many years, it's incongruous to me to see the concept of art so defined, established, quantified, categorized, developed, organized, prioritized, politicized, planned, publicized and pummeled to the point that it's all but buried beneath the bureaucracy, all this resulting in art product. We are experiencing the Carmelization of Mill Valley at the hands of those who will most commercially benefit.
katy Kuhn October 12, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Oh, to be an artist and not depend on earning a living! As a "working artist" I applaud the Community Arts Coaltion's energies in bringing recognition and support to all the arts in Mill Valley (nothing like the staid tourist community of Carmel...). Without "support" (clients, galleries, show venues, sponsorships) many artists have no access to a public at all. The "bureaucracy" is actually a passionate community of people dedicated to making sure we aren't just Tech Valley, Bank Valley or Pilates Valley. This is a vibrant community and the arts are an integral part of that balance and quality of life. Now, if there were affordable spaces for studios, maybe all would be well.
Danny Slomoff October 13, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Should lMill Valley have the Arts element as part of the 2040 Plan. ABSOLUTELY!! Just review the other cities which this coalition used to cite evidence for the value and you'll immediately see this has nothing to do with "Carmel". Bringing all the arts together as part of the city 2040 plan is genius. It finally gets the entire city government behind one of the most important parts of our town. It's not enough for individual artists and organizations to work tirelessly to promote their expressions; it is not enough that all the citizens benefit from these contributions; it is not enough that city officials are proud of our cultural strengths; it is time to make it a vital part of our 2040 plan so it never gets lost in future plans.
Laurie Cohen October 14, 2012 at 03:12 AM
As the director of Mill Valley Philharmonic, I feel that the more the arts and arts presenters are acknowledged and recognized by the town government, the more we become a beacon as a community that is proud of what we have to offer the public. Becoming a part of the 2040 Plan is a really positive step!

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