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Mayor Kevin Johnson formally introduced Deborah Edward as the new project manager for his “For Art’s Sake” initiative at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
After reviewing 250 resumes and conducting 18 interviews, Johnson said Edward was the best candidate to implement the three main goals of the initiative -- strengthen Sacramento’s cultural infrastructure, improve access to the arts and arts education, and invest in creative talent.
Edward’s qualifications for the position are evident in her involvement as co-founder and executive director of the Austin Children’s Museum, as well as her consultation experience with museums in California, the Czech Republic, Russia and Texas in regards to museum planning, fundraising and education, according to a “For Art’s Sake” press release. She is also a Fulbright Fellow and holds a Ph. D. in education psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Edward said that often times arts advocates are burdened with the difficult task of “bootstrapping all the good ideas“ for their cause, but that here in Sacramento, it has been different.
“It’s very unusual for a city to take a plan and really make it move forward with the mayor’s support,” Edward said.
In Sacramento, Edward said has support from Johnson, people in his office, a handful of arts organizations and people throughout the community.
Executive director of the Mondavi Center Don Roth and President and CEO of Western Health Advantage Garry Maisel are two such people who have volunteered to be co-chairs of the team that will work to accomplish the initiative’s action plan.
Roth welcomed Edward and called her “a skilled professional who’s going to help us move forward.”
Roth compared Sacramento’s current cultural and artistic atmosphere to that of Austin before it could proclaim itself as the “live music capital of the world.”
“Sacramento has many of the same advantages as Austin and, in fact, more,” Roth said.
One of these advantages is that “we’ve got a mayor with a mission,” he said.
Johnson said he wants to see Sacramento become a “world-class city,” and in becoming so, let “art lead the way.”
Johnson said he wants Sacramento to be a place where artists are nurtured and cultivated in real ways.
“At the end of the day, if we can’t support artists then we aren’t doing our job,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that ultimately, citizens and art enthusiasts must “put our money where our mouth is.” The best way of supporting local creative talent would be to buy local, Johnson said.
Edward said she is excited to be surrounded by people who are “determined to see the arts really come alive in a city that’s got so much to offer.”
There will be a “For Art’s Sake” implementation launch, featuring Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Rocco Landesman, at 10 a.m. Nov. 12 at the Crocker Museum Auditorium.