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Artists share ideas on ‘artivism,’ tips on AB5

And upcoming art events

Autumn Labbé-Renault, chair of Arts Alliance Davis, speaks at the Jan. 16 meeting at the Davis Arts Center. Photo credit: Wendy Weitzel/Courtesy photo

By Wendy Weitzel

Since 2015, Arts Alliance Davis has united area artists and arts lovers, offering a forum for collaboration and sharing. That networking has evolved into a vibrant support community, clearly on display at its Jan. 16 meeting.

This gathering of nearly 30 joined forces at Davis Arts Center. Arts Alliance Davis meets every other month, at rotating venues. It unites artists, civic and arts organizations, businesses, patrons and other community arts supporters. The meetings are open to anyone.

This time, the group discussed two main issues: using art for activism, and a new state law’s impact on artists as independent contractors.

Artist Danielle Fodor asked the group for ideas for working together to magnify their voices on issues like climate change and immigration. She quoted author Toni Cade Bambara: “It is the role of the artist to make the revolution irresistible.”

Fodor suggested the need for a shared space to store banners, stencils and other items for reuse. She wants to create a list of interested individuals with a desire to create social impact through art, and discuss actions and opportunities over a potluck meal. She was part of a similar group as a graduate student but it dissolved after people moved away.

“Is there a structure we could create that would survive the transient nature of Davis?” Fodor asked, referring to the academic town.

Shelly Gilbride, executive director of International House, Davis, said she sees a need to explore the global issues of our time ­– as long as the process is inclusive. She said the term “artivism” is a popular one, but “revolution” connotes progressive left, and we shouldn’t assume that everyone who lives in the area is liberal.

“Is it open to all perspectives?” Gilbride asked, stressing the need to “bring all sides in, in an open and welcoming way.”

Autumn Labbé-Renault, chair of Arts Alliance Davis, generated an email list for those interested in continuing the discussion. “I personally love that the Arts Alliance is a perfect place, and great way to address things like this.”

Gilbride led the next topic: How Assembly Bill 5, which went into effect Jan. 1, impacts artists as independent contractors, and affects the organizations that hire them. The law addresses the employment status of workers when businesses claim them as independent contractors instead of employees. The definitions are confusing, as some professions are carved out of the law, and standards vary. A cleanup bill, AB 1850, is in the works.

While the Employment Development Department is the compliance agency, she said the best answers on the subject are on the Labor and Workforce Development Agency website, https://www.labor.ca.gov/employmentstatus/. A fact sheet compiled by Gilbride will be distributed to the Arts Alliance Davis email list. Californians for the Arts is also a great source of news and updates about how the new legislation impacts the arts community: https://www.californiansforthearts.org/blog.

Rachel Hartsough, the city of Davis’ arts and culture manager, said it’s satisfying to see the Arts Alliance bring the community together ­– for big ideas and lots of support. Some came to announce their projects and programs. One artist showed up for the first time, nervous and looking for a mentor.

“It’s so gratifying to see the evolution (of the group) and new people coming each time we gather,” Hartsough said.

Most Arts Alliance Davis meetings include roundtable introductions and announcements. Upcoming events mentioned included:

  • “Appreciation & Adaptation: Homage to Global Textiles,” at the UC Davis Design Museum, Jan. 23 through April 18, free.
  • Artist Stephen Kaltenbach: “The Beginning and End,” and two other winter collections at the Manetti Shrem Museum at UC Davis, opening Jan. 26, free. And Sculptor Leonardo Drew will give a free lecture at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the museum.
  • The new-music festival Taproot has remaining shows at the Mondavi Center UC Davis and in the Ann E. Pitzer Center, Jan. 30 through Feb. 2. Some are free, with other tickets $10 to $40.
  • Pence Gallery, 212 D St., will host a free “Hearts for the Arts” event from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 8, with watercolor demos, face painting and Valentine’s Day crafts for the whole family. It also includes food and music.
  • Bike City Theatre Company is offering free readings of “Sensitive Guys.” The next one is 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at Repower Yolo, 909 Fifth St., Davis.
  • Davis Chorale will present its spring concert of Handel’s “Messiah” (complete) at 3 p.m. on April 19 at Davis High School’s Brunelle Hall.

The next meeting of Arts Alliance Davis is an evening social on Feb. 13 at the “Second Bite: The Wisdom of the Apple,” installation at Omsoft Technologies, 1930 Fifth St., Suite C, Davis. The time is to be announced. After that, the group meets from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on March 19 and May 21, with venues to be determined. For more information, to post an event or opportunity, or to subscribe to the mailing list, contact Labbé-Renault at info@artsalliancedavis.org.

Follow and share local and regional arts updates on Arts Alliance and city of Davis Arts and Cultural Affairs social media:



"She said the term “artivism” is a popular one, but “revolution” connotes progressive left, and we shouldn’t assume that everyone who lives in the area is liberal.

“Is it open to all perspectives?” Gilbride asked, stressing the need to “bring all sides in, in an open and welcoming way.”

Well stated.

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