Fair Weather and Foul on the Berkeley Arts Horizon

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday July 20, 2011 - 12:09:00 PM

Last night’s Berkeley City Council meeting started off with a genuine warm fuzzy moment. My old friends Russ Ellis and Julie Shearer were lauded and given a richly deserved award for their many, many contributions to the arts in Berkeley. A couple of highlights: Russ, a retired UC Vice President, has been an avid supporter of the Young Musicians’ Program, a UC-based program which provides extra encouragement and excellent teaching on a full scholarship basis for gifted music students, many of whom come from underserved communities. Julie is a performer and a composer, especially in the area of musical theater.

They’re both singers too— Julie was an early member of the celebrated Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. I’ve been privileged to hear the classy recording Russ made as a young crooner before the demands of making a living overtook him. And much later in life he was part of a distinguished local group of music-makers whose celebrated members included Professor Troy Duster and Federal Judge Thelton Henderson.

Russ and Julie typify the devotion to the arts that many Berkeleyans exhibit. Another example of what Berkeley at its best can do for the arts is the Berkeley Arts Festival, now in its 20th season of stone-soup productions by the indefatigable Bonnie Hughes. Bonnie has managed, time after time, to beg and borrow unused downtown storefronts for exhibit and performance spaces, benefiting all at the same time the festival’s (always sensational and always paid) performers, the downtown businesses and most of all audience members. She gets a lot of amenities contributed, sometimes gets modest funding from the city of Berkeley, and always seems to turn a few drops of water into a lot of wine. A short unsolicited tribute to the Berkeley Arts Festival by one of the participating painters appears in this issue, and we've given the schedule a free display ad as a thank you for 20 years of pleasure.

There’s another arts story this week that’s not so heartwarming, however. Professional musicians who have survived the somewhat rigorous jurying process for performing at the Solano Stroll received a letter this week from Allen Cain, Executive Director and Events Manager of the Solano Avenue Association, which said in part:

“We simply cannot afford to pay for entertainment this year. ... We simply lack the resources....As a result, moving forward – we are suspending entertainer pay…We do recommend you pass the hat, which can be lucrative – especially when you tell the public you are performing for free and rely on their generosity! What are we asking from you? We are asking you to perform for free. It’s just that simple." -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Students Present Re-Districting Proposal Despite Mayoral Harassment

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday July 20, 2011 - 02:02:00 PM

A not-so-nice moment about 20 minutes into last night's Berkeley City Council meeting, which I watched online, came when a serious and charming group of young people attempted to present a council redistricting formula which they'd created in less than a week during the council's pre-meeting public comment time, which is limited to 5 speakers on a subject not on the council agenda. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Tuesday July 19, 2011 - 11:22:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday July 22, 2011 - 10:21:00 AM

BerkeleyBizarre; Medicaid; Paris is Burning: an Open Letter to Alameda Labor Council, AFL-CIO; -more-

Berkeley School Construction Bond Oversight

By Stephanie Allan, Co-Chair, Construction Bond Oversight Committee (on behalf of the committee)
Monday July 18, 2011 - 11:01:00 AM

On June 29, 2011, a reader commentary appeared regarding the expenditures of BUSD bond monies. The commentary contained a number of inaccuracies and, as Co-Chair of the Construction Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC), I’d like to correct them. For your readers’ information, the CBOC is constitutionally mandated, under the California State Constitution, Article 13A, section1, subdivision (b)(3), and is part of the California State Education Code. Such committees have broad independent authority to audit and oversee expenditures of what are called Prop. 39 bonds, which is what Berkeley voters approved last November. These committees are required as a condition of issuing bonds under Prop. 39. -more-

Press Release: Protest Filed to Save California Watersheds From Dangerous Fracking
Drilling Poised to Move Forward Without Thorough Environmental Review

From Matt Vespa, Center for Biological Diversity, and Jason Pitt, Sierra Club,
Monday July 18, 2011 - 11:07:00 AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and Los Padres ForestWatch filed a formal protest today to stop the Bureau of Land Management from leasing out 2,600 acres of environmentally sensitive land in Monterey and Fresno counties for oil and gas development. The leasing of this federal mining-estate land comes without a thorough examination of the effects drilling will have on California’s landscapes, wildlife and watersheds. -more-

Musicians Will Eat Anything You Feed Them

By Carol Denney
Wednesday July 20, 2011 - 12:37:00 PM

The musicians selected to play for the Solano Stroll through an application process that began back in April have just been told that this year they are expected to play for free. -more-

Hal Carstad Was Quite a Man

By Carol Ann Amour
Monday July 18, 2011 - 08:23:00 AM

I am new to the Berkeley area. I moved here from the Midwest in November and knew no one excepting my daughter, her husband, and their new twins. How to meet people? How to get connected? How to find meaningful experiences? -more-