Cultural Arts Commission: Bringing art to the public

Malibu’s first Cultural Arts Commission will be meeting later this month to lay out an operating framework for its brand new existence. That a city as rich in artistic talent and accomplishment has waited this long to establish such a commission is not lost on the former chairman of the Arts Task Force and now commission member, Daniel Stern.

“We have tons of artists here in Malibu,” Stern said from New York, where he is currently appearing in a Broadway production of “The Other Place.” “But people here tend to be private… Everyone said, why did this take so long? But once we got started, you could see the need is really there.”

The Cultural Arts Commission is the result of a two-year study by the city’s Arts Task Force to make recommendations to the Malibu City Council on arts policy, use of city parks for arts-related events, purchases of art by the city and outreach to Malibu artists, according to the planning department. 

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Stern was percolating with so many ideas to embrace and promote city arts in a new way, he could barely list them. He suggested that the current Malibu Garden Tour and Malibu Cooks Tour provide a template for a visit to artists’ studios to see ongoing works in progress. 

“There are only two main shopping areas and limited gallery opportunities,” Stern said. “I see some very creative ways to show new artists through ‘pop up’ galleries and events. The thing is, we are building this from the ground up, so we can look at everyone’s ideas.” 

In fact, Stern said that one of the tent poles of the commission would be a strong volunteer staff, with committees that can be “chopped up into bite-size pieces” and give everyone interested a chance to add to the puzzle of an arts identity in Malibu. 

“One of our challenges is to get a funding stream in place that is used wisely and economically, but also in a real, ongoing way,” Stern said. “I want to get our amazing student talent involved and heard. And most of all, I want our Malibu artists to be exposed. Because art is never really finished until it is seen by a public.” 

The current working commission includes Suzanne Zimmer, who has previously served on the Malibu View Protection Task Force and the Library Task Force, and who was appointed by Mayor Lou La Monte. 

Commissioner Stern was appointed by Councilwoman Laura Zahn Rosenthal, and Commissioner Scott Hosfeld was appointed by Councilman John Sibert. Hosfeld and his wife, Maria Newman, have long run the Malibu Friends of Music and the annual Malibu Coast Music Festival. 

Theatre vet Graeme Clifford was also appointed as an ex-officio member. Appointments by Mayor Pro Tem Joan House and Councilman Skylar Peak will be made at Monday’s City Council meeting. Each commissioner will serve a four-year term. 

Fellow commissioners echoed Stern’s excitement at the new opportunities presented by a city-sponsored Arts Commission. 

“Malibu has needed this for awhile now,” Zimmer said. “We have great, accomplished talent in this city with great ideas and a vested interest in promoting the cultural arts. We also have a public that is very supportive and is eager to tap into our own pool of artists and attract others.” 

Zimmer said the first tasks of the new commission when they meet will be to discuss how to bring in the community to participate, chart a course for the first year and catalogue the possibilities inherent in a community made up of artists from so many disciplines. 

“Personally, I would love to see us figure out a way to use all the existing venues in town,” Zimmer said. “There’s Legacy Park, the old Malibu Performing Arts Center, Bluffs Park and possible partnerships with Pepperdine. It’s an exciting time and I am thrilled to be part of this commission.” 

Having run the annual music festival and organized community concerts with Malibu Friends of Music, Hosfeld brings unique talents to his role as arts commissioner. 

“I really think a Cultural Arts Commission can help bind this community together in a new way,” Hosfeld said. “Looking at our own experience, I know that we can create some cross-cultural experiences (as seen in the music festival’s dance performances) that can integrate Malibu’s talent across the board.” 

Hosfeld cited some “give and take” with Pepperdine’s facilities and the possibilities with some of Malibu’s outdoor facilities as future venues for cultural events and arts festivals. 

“The challenge we have is to get the community to buy in and want to be a part of this,” Hosfeld said. “Our outreach is critical.” 

Interested parties can find more information on the Cultural Arts Commission at the website: malibucity.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/nav/navid/581/

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