September 27-October 4, 2006

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Arts 2020

The average citizen response to being asked to attend any meeting involving city planning is to cringe in fear and feverishly search for a more appealing prior engagement. But this Thursday's special meeting of the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) promises to be both upbeat and energetic, with exhibitions of local art and live tunes from local musicians. What's more, the city's future, in terms of what role the arts will play in it, will be the priority for all in attendance.

Linda Bixby, chairwoman of the Santa Cruz Arts Commission and a member of the GPAC, hopes that bringing art and government together Thursday will remind all involved that these two realms are "intricately linked." "When people leave Santa Cruz they don't just remember, 'Hey, that was a really well-functioning city,'" she laughs. "There is a unique community identity here, and we need to pay attention to how that is shaped."

The GPAC is charged with the task of rewriting Santa Cruz's General Plan, a comprehensive document that guides the city's development from its approval by the City Council, slated for 2008, until 2020. Thursday's meeting will focus specifically on issues surrounding the arts. Bixby is quick to remind Santa Cruz residents that art is an integral part of the city's economy, its school system and its overall atmosphere.

"People coming here to visit open studios or the symphony are going to want to eat, and they may want to stay the night," she says, citing the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music as an event that features world-renowned performers and draws tourists from across the nation. The committee hopes to see a large turnout not only so the General Plan will represent the diversity of Santa Cruz's community but also because great ideas often come out of these public brainstorming sessions. For instance, Bixby remembers, "When we made it easier for nonmusic shops to get music permits the music scene really improved."

Bixby hopes the meeting will further the tradition of implementing policy changes that support and advance all styles of art. "There is a wealth of talent in Santa Cruz, a lot of avant-garde stuff, but it runs the full spectrum," she says. "We don't want to forget the more conservative stuff, such as Santa Cruz Follies, which attracts senior citizens from around the county."

The special meeting of the General Plan Advisory Committee will be held at 7pm on Thursday, Sept. 28, in the Police Community Room, 155 Center St,, Santa Cruz. Music will start at 6:30pm.

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