Arts and Culture Subcommittee Report: October 10 Meeting

The Arts and Culture Subcommittee consists of commissioners of the Parks and Recreation Commission, including Jensen Hallstrom, Ayesha Hussaini and Kathy Lira. The intent of the committee is to connect the City to local arts institutions, to provide exposure to their programs, and to pool resources among arts providers.The next meeting will be held Dec 12 in the City Chambers, City Hall located at 303 W Commonwealth Ave,

Fullerton College Arts Programs

The first presentation was from Dean Nicola Dedman, choral instructor and interim Dean of Fine Arts at Fullerton College who gave an overview of the institution’s arts programming. The Fine Arts Department currently serves 5,000-6,000 students per semester and classes are fully back on campus at present.

The Art Department has a gallery on campus that is open to the public which hosts four exhibitions each year. The gallery has just finished a faculty exhibition. Installations of each exhibit are completed by students enrolled in campus classes, providing them with museum work experience as well.

The Theater Department has two performance spaces and puts on four productions a year. Upcoming shows include “Spitfire Grill” and “ Marian, the True Story of Robin Hood.” Students are able to get certificates in specialized theater disciplines, such as Musical Theater, or Stage Combat at Fullerton College. Currently the department partners with Disney, which pays for employees to gain certificates in the Technical Theater program.The campus also hosts a theater festival for hundreds of high school students each year.

The Music Department has a new recording studio and offers choral tours internationally. There is a high rate of transfer to music and choral programs at Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, and other prestigious schools. A new performing arts center will be built on campus in 2025, located in the current sculpture garden at the corner of Lemon and Chapman, and the department is looking forward to support from the city in obtaining building permits for this construction. Fullerton College has many students enrolled in the Promise Program, which offers the first two years of college free to students who have not attended college before.

Museum of Teaching and Learning

The second presentation was from MOTAL, the Museum of Teaching and Learning. Originally begun at Cal State Long Beach, it is now a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the history of education and issues in education. The organization does not occupy a physical building, but instead creates traveling exhibitions. Recently the “Class Action” exhibit about the case of Mendez vs. Westminster opened at Santiago Canyon College, and students from Orange School District are able to visit it, with student docents from the college conducting tours. Soon it will also come to the Fullerton Library, and local resident Sylvia Mendez will be able to speak about her family’s history in this historic legal case. An exhibition about the educational system in China compared to the U.S. was held at the Fullerton Arboretum, and a podcast series was created about the pandemic and educators’ responses to the situation.

The next planned exhibit is “Babies’ Brains” in partnership with the neuroscience department at UCI. MOTAL was notified in August 2021 that they would receive a $500,000 grant from the state through the offices of Sharon Quirk Silva to mount the exhibit. However, it has been over a year and no money has been received. It was to have been administered by the city, so the Board of MOTAL is interested in knowing what has happened to the money and when it will be allocated to their organization.

Alice Loya, of the city of Fullerton stated that the committee has now been introduced to most of the major institutions in Fullerton. At this point, their hope is that area arts organizations will collaborate in the future to bring back “Night in Fullerton”, a traditional evening for citizens to visit and experience the work of all the arts providers in town.

Public Comments

In public comments, a request was made for all institutions to provide greater access to print catalogs, flyers and other materials publicizing arts programs and performances around town. Some residents do not have easily available Internet access but would like to be informed and attend community events. It is recommended that print materials to be routinely available to the public at Fullerton Library, Fullerton Community Center and City Hall.