Mayor Helene Schneider was honored last week in Washington, D.C. for her commitment to public arts. Americans for the Arts, a D.C.-based nonprofit for advancing arts and arts education, and the nonpartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) presented Schneider with the National Award for Local Arts Leadership at the mayors’ 84th Winter Meeting.
Named among Schneider’s chief contributions to local art was her successful effort to create downtown Santa Barbara’s Historic Arts District, now home to a Community Arts Workshop which serves as a headquarters for the annual Summer Solstice Celebration, states the city press release issued Monday. According to the release, “The City leased its property to the Santa Barbara Arts Collective for $1 per year and contributed $300,000 to develop a Community Arts Workshop.” The award similarly praises the Mayor’s collaboration with arts organizations to provide creative outlets for residents — especially youth — and tourists, as well as annual city funding for Fiesta and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
“In spite of recent economic downturns, the City has remained committed to its support for cultural nonprofits and cultural tourism, and has developed a civic climate that encourages and supports strategic public-private partnerships,” said Nathan Vonk, President of the Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, an organization committed to strengthening local arts funding.
“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the City of Santa Barbara’s many creative and groundbreaking community leaders and artists,” said Schneider at the conference, which ran from January 20 to 21. She continued, “Santa Barbara’s vibrant cultural arts economy and public art programs are a result of many years of ingenuity, planning, strategic investments, and people who just get things done. Through partnerships with artists, business leaders, and philanthropists, we’ve created a place where residents and visitors alike can create, explore, participate, and thrive.”
A product of the Great Depression, USCM began in the 1930s when the Mayor of Detroit assembled 48 city leaders to pursue federal aid for their communities from President Herbert Hoover. Now, composed of 1,407 Mayors of cities with populations higher than 30,000, the organization acts collectively to influence public policy in D.C.