In December 2016, the Arts and Culture Commission (ACC) concluded its seventh year of operation.  The Commission annually provides a written report of its activities, along with recommendations for improvements and additions to existing art and culture programs, to the City Council.  This report will briefly highlight work the Commission has achieved, work in progress and recommendations for your consideration.

Per Benicia City Ordinance No. 09-15, the purpose of the Commission is to:
    A.    Advise and inform the city council and staff on culture and arts related issues
    B.    Evaluate the needs and resources of local culture and arts organizations
    C.    Facilitate, encourage, promote and stimulate arts and culture in our community
    D.    Promote and increase public awareness, locally and beyond the city, of arts and cultural resources and
    E.    Support and promote the arts and culture as a major element in Benicia’s community identity
    F.    Ensure that cultural and artistic elements are integral to the city’s quality of life and economic vitality
    G.    Engage youth in culture and arts



Some of the accomplishments from the past year include:  

    •    Reviewing and revising the grant application documentation to more fully address the needs of arts and
culture grantees during the 2015-2017 fiscal cycles and again for the 2017-2019 fiscal cycles.
    •    Conducting site visits and authorizing quarterly expenditures for the City’s six non-profit arts and culture grantees.
    •    Sponsoring an independent film festival event/fundraiser that enhances the arts and culture offerings in Benicia. In its third year, it successfully raised funds for the Commission, with around 300 people attending the event September 2-4, 2016.
    •    Revising an art brochure highlighting public art in the City of Benicia, along with a listing of the city's galleries, historical sites and non-profit arts and culture organizations.
    •    Participating in a City/Arts Benicia grant-funded process to look at how art can be integrated into the future Waterfront Park design and providing input for the inclusion of public art from the inception of the plan.
    •    Hosting a series of receptions for “Arts Benicia Presents…” art exhibits in the City Council Chambers.
    •    Working collaboratively with the Economic Development Board in participating in the Americans for the Arts AEP5 (Arts and Economic Prosperity) survey. Surveying occurred from January to December, 2016, and results will be provided by June, 2017.  
    •    Hosting a roundtable collaborative event in the Library for the Arts and Culture non-profits in the city of Benicia. A presentation by Commissioner Scott on “Branding”, how it works, and how nonprofits can use their unique essence to develop a brand was held on October 12, 2016.
    •    Working with the City to install a Granizo tile in front of the State Capital Building, with groundbreaking ceremony on October 11, 2016.

The Commissioners continued to be active in the community, representing the city at many arts and culture events, meetings and activities. In 2016 the City Council approved changing the number of commissioners from nine to seven.



Community Outreach Committee

Mission: Provide leadership to the Commission in its goal to: 1) build collaborative and supportive relationships with arts, culture and other organizations, and 2) raise funds, as needed, to support the mission of the Commission and its grantees.

With the commission spread thin between the Public Art Committee and the Film Festival Subcommittee, it was determined that the best way to conduct the business of Outreach in 2016 was at the monthly commission meetings.  The primary tasks that were accomplished included: 1) ACC Grant Program Management; 2) Build/Enhance Relationships with Arts and Culture Organizations; 3) Host ACC Roundtable; 4) Document and Submit ACC Annual Report to the City; 5) Support other ACC Committees as needed.

Public Art Committee

Mission: Exists to support the inclusion of public art in our community promoting its cultural heritage, history and artistic identity, while adding warmth, beauty, and accessibility to public spaces.

The Public Art Committee accomplishments in 2016:
    •    Updated and redesigned the Arts and Culture brochure to include the most recent public art installations, with inclusion of historic buildings, new images and map additions.
    •    Worked with Arts Benicia on creating a plan for Public Art.


Looking ahead to 2017

The Commission is interested in finding a way to increase the amount and vibrancy of public art in the community. Their vision is “to enhance, expand, facilitate, and promote public art in a multitude of forms in Benicia.” A key collaborator in these efforts has been Arts Benicia: this important nonprofit organization met with members of the Commission’s Public Art Committee (PAC) to discuss possible ways to increase the amount of public art in Benicia. Members of the PAC believe that public arts projects could be implemented through collaboration with community stakeholders, including city government and local based groups. The ACC and the PAC are currently in the process of developing a strong partnership among local nonprofits to support this vision.
Recommendations & possible additions to the ACC 2017 work plan

The following are a few recommendations from the Commission to encourage and promote arts and culture related programs.

    •    As the city considers its budget for fiscal year 2016-17 and 2018-19, the Commission recommends maintaining the level of funding provided in the 2015-2017 budget for arts and culture organizations. If additional funding is available, the Commission would request the Council to increase the amount for arts and culture grantees, returning to the 2009-10 level of support for the grantees of $100,000.
    •    Set aside a funds each year to be used for public art in the community.
    •    Support the Commission’s collaboration with community arts and culture organizations, such as Arts Benicia, as they seek to expand, enhance and promote public art in Benicia. The Commission plans to make a presentation to the Council outlining their ideas, which they believe will assist with one of the Council’s unfunded priorities: establishing a Master Plan for Public Art in Benicia.
    •    Assist Benicia companies manufacturing or creating arts pieces with a “Made in Benicia” branding campaign.


Work in progress

Public Art Subcommittee
    •    Continue to monitor items to be included in a future Public Art Master Plan for Benicia.
    •    Continue to work with local organizations on Public Art projects and on expanding the opportunities for public art in the community.
    •    Initiate a fundraiser with funds to be earmarked for public art projects.

Outreach Subcommittee
    •    Support collaboration by arts and culture organizations within the City.
    •    Continue to sponsor the Arts and Culture Commission’s Roundtable.
    •    Work with AEP5 on survey results.

Film Festival Subcommittee
    •    Continue the work of the Film Festival Subcommittee and annually evaluate future events.
    •    Fundraise as needed for the film festival, with funds raised above and beyond the amount needed for the Film Festival expenses to be used (with Council Approval) where the commission deems most appropriate.

Arts and Culture Commission
    •    Reviewing grant applications and making funding recommendations to the City Council.
    •    Monitor grantee reports on a quarterly basis and make a site visit to each grantee annually.
    •    Participate in the Waterfront Park design process to ensure inclusion of art from inception of the plan through completion of the project.


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