From the City of Eureka:
For the last twelve months, the City of Eureka has produced weekly messages from the Mayor. These videos have helped the community weather the storm, but as the weather warms, and vaccines get distributed more widely into the community, it is time to start looking forward.
We will mark this transition with a new kind of video, starting today, the city will begin distributing Community Conversations, a series of interviews with local artists, volunteers, public servants, and business leaders.Each weekly video will highlight what makes Eureka great and the many ways our diverse citizens partner, get involved, and give back.
My name is Monica Topping, and I am the administrative director at the Ink People Center for the Arts, which is the city of Eureka’s official arts organization. I also am the coordinator for North Coast Open Studios, which is a DreamMaker project of the Ink People. It is a county-wide community art event that typically happens in the first two weekends of June when there’s not a pandemic happening.
The Ink People is the City’s official arts organization. We support art and culture, projects and artists and creators throughout the County. We have a gallery here in our building when our gallery is not completely virtual. We have a drop-in after school program, Mars Project, which is a fantastic, amazing program for kids aged 12 to 26.
We’ve got the DreamMaker program, which is what Open Studios is a part of. There’s also like more than a hundred active DreamMakers in this area that are basically art and culture projects that are sort of independently run as part of the Ink People. If people have a creative idea or a community project that they want to do, trying to find funding for that, if you’re not a nonprofit, can be really extra difficult whether it’s sponsorships or grant funding or anything else, we can take them under our wing, make them part of the Ink People as a DreamMaker. And they can apply for grant funding, or they can get sponsors from businesses who can use it as a tax, write off as a donation to their project which is really nice. So it’s really neat that we’ve got this kind of constant conversation going on with all these incredibly creative people in our community who are doing incredible work.
They say that, there’s the whole Humboldt County census numbers about more artists per capita in Humboldt County than any other county in California. What I think is really incredible about that is that a lot of artists have other jobs, but on the census, they identified themselves as artists first and foremost. And I think that’s really, really special. You walk around the streets of Eureka and almost everywhere you look, you like spin one direction, you’re going to see a mural or a public art bench or some kind of sculpture. There’s so much art going on around here. You walk through Henderson Center and there’s poetry on the sidewalks. It’s incredible.
I think that the creative community in Humboldt, in Eureka, is definitely a beacon of light to other creatives. I think it doesn’t hurt that we’ve got these gorgeous giant trees and this ocean, and sometimes you can find a single spot to stand in where you’ve got one on each side of you. That is a really good inspiration for being creative, but certainly, knowing that there is such a big support system for creative people in this area definitely brings people here to be part of it, or if they accidentally show up and then find out that this exists, it just kind of makes them feel like it’s home.
We have this commission within the city, an actual city commission, that’s an official thing that supports the local art and culture community. The Art and Culture Commission has helped to create the city’s Strategic Arts Plan in the last few years. The city did that, but we supported it. All the benches along the waterfront and the utility boxes that you see when you’re walking around town, and a lot of the murals that are around here, we have supported that happening.
I think that over the last year, people have really seen the importance of art. In the time that we, a lot of people have been maybe less consumed by the hustle and bustle and the, to and from, and only getting to really pay attention to the life that they live and not much else outside of that, they’ve been given a little more breathing room with masks on to experience it. And I think hopefully the community will see that how important it is to have neighborhood art, the random utility boxes in the middle of residential neighborhoods getting painted nice colors, the parks are being painted, nice colors. It’s just making everything a little more enjoyable in the world around us and seeing that art doesn’t just have to be limited to the inside of a gallery. You don’t have to make a point of leaving the house to go into a place during their business hours to see visual arts. I think on the far side of this, we’re going to hopefully see much more of it and much more of it done in a very public way.