Arts Alliance Davis: Connections increase impact of Davis arts sector

by Wendy Weitzel

Local artists continue connecting and sharing their craft, knowing their voice is amplified when they work together. That was the message on April 8 at a virtual meeting of Arts Alliance Davis.

The 18 attendees heard first about the newly formed Sacramento Alliance for Regional Arts. The nonprofit promotes and advocates for arts, art education and cultural equity in the greater Sacramento region. Bill Blake of AMS Planning and Research, a Sacramento consulting firm specializing in the arts, said SARA “came about because of COVID and all of the things that have happened,” in the arts community.

While there are state and national arts organizations, artists and related groups needed a regional voice with organized, sustained advocacy. If a concert hall closes in Folsom, he said, the impact is felt far beyond that city’s borders. Musicians or employees may live in Davis or Roseville, for example.

“You don’t need to follow the jurisdictional boundaries for it to have an impact in the area,” Blake said, calling it “a cultural ecosystem.” By creating a regional coalition, “if something’s happening in Placer County, those elected leaders are hearing from other surrounding counties that it impacts. … Elected officials can easily dismiss the arts if we don’t speak with one voice.”

He urged Alliance attendees to become involved in SARA as it’s being built. “We need more representation from your community,” he said, referring to Yolo County. Visit

Arts Alliance Davis was formed a few years ago as a grassroots effort to give artists and their supporters the opportunity to gather, collaborate and create meaningful impact. Meetings are open to anyone. Each meeting includes introductions and announcements from participants, who shared ideas and updates, including:

Workers begin demolition on April 12 for the plaza in front of the Hunt-Boyer Mansion. Rachel Hartsough/Courtesy photo

Rachel Hartsough, Davis’ arts and culture manager, noted how ground-breaking started on the new plaza being constructed near the Dresbach-Hunt-Boyer Mansion at 604 Second St.

Commissioned as a donation in 2017 to celebrate the city’s 100th anniversary, Davis artist Susan Shelton created a 7-foot-diameter bronze seal with tributes to the native Patwin people, wildlife, plants and Putah Creek; the settlement by Jerome C. Davis; the significance of the railroad, Interstate 80 and Highway 113; the long partnership between UC Davis and the city, and the stories and aspirations of the community.

The plaza project will include bricks inscribed with names of Davis residents and local organizations and should be completed by summer.

Hartsough said the most recent city budget cut about 40 percent of the funding for city arts grants. The community will start to see that impact next year. She encouraged artists to thank the City Council for previous grants, and share their stories of impact, encouraging restoration of previous levels of funding as soon as resources allow.

Much of the Arts and Cultural Affairs funding that is available this year is being used in creative ways that encourage public health and economic recovery, and amplify the voices and stories of the community members and artists of color in the region.

Behind the scenes, the city has taken advantage of the shutdown to make improvements to its arts facilities, like upgrades to the Veterans Memorial Theatre and repairs to the Varsity Theatre roof. City officials are beginning a conversation to rethink how the Vets Theatre will be used in the future, and how to make it more accessible to community groups.

Jessie Nakahara, a program associate with the Arts and Cultural Affairs program, has been busy revamping the arts and culture web page,, on the city’s website, so it’s easier to navigate. She also worked with five local artists on Healthy Davis Together art banners that will go up around town in the next few weeks.


Autumn Labbé-Renault, chair of Arts Alliance Davis, is executive director of Davis Media Access. Since March 17, 2020, she’s led the “COVID-19 Community Report” every Tuesday at noon on KDRT 95.7 FM, documenting the pandemic’s effects in Yolo County. The podcasts are at

She said the nonprofit media company is remodeling part of its building on Fifth Street, adding a media lab “to enable additional workshops that we’ve never had a space to do.” They hope to have it open to the public in late fall.


Stacie Frerichs, director of Davis Arts Center, announced it will offer four weeklong sessions of in-person all-day summer camps this year for children ages 6 to 12, starting July 19. It’s also continuing the popular Art Camp Kits for self-guided art projects that children 6 and older can do at home. Registration opens on April 20. Visit for details.


Yelena Ivashchenko, the owner of Bohème Hip Used Clothing, is active with the Davis Downtown Business Association. DDBA plans to bring music downtown as part of Open-Air Davis, replacing the music at the Davis Farmers Market’s Picnic in the Park. However, the city has not permitted any live music for E Street Plaza. Safety protocols require reserved seating for such events. She’s hopeful that may be possible by late June or early July.

Davis Downtown is making postcards out of its Heart to Hearts entries, where artists filled hearts with illustrations of why they love the town. The postcards will be sold at, and buyers may select a downtown business to receive the proceeds.


Lorie Hammond, the founder of Peregrine School, announced it has a small outdoor stage available for rent, especially on evenings and weekends when the school is not in session. The grounds have the capacity for an audience of about 50 people socially distanced and up to 150 without. They hope to have details finalized this month, and to start renting it out in May. Visit

Hartsough said the city is helping support this venture as a pilot project.


Emily Henderson, artistic director for Acme Theatre Co., talked about the youth theatre group’s upcoming performance of “As You Are,” a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” It will be presented on Zoom at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 24.

Henderson said there’s a potential for outdoor performances starting this summer. Visit for details.


Michael French of UC Davis Arts encouraged people to check out the virtual programming available online at, including the department of theater and dance master of fine arts projects through April 23.

The Fashion and Design Society’s free show, typically a Picnic Day event, was set for 7 p.m. on April 15. “Uncharted” features clothing designed by UC Davis students. The recording will be part of the virtual Picnic Day celebration on April 17 at

Designer Julia Koerner will speak at a free, online lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 22, titled “Models & Models.” Her recent collaborations include 3D-printed haute couture and the Academy Award-winning costumes for the film “Black Panther.”

Meanwhile, the noon concert series is presented online every Thursday through June at 12:05 p.m. Visit for details.

Arnold Joseph Kemp is part of a Visiting Artist Lecture Series at 4:30 p.m. on April 22. Kemp will read some of his poetry, then discuss the relationship between language and the aesthetics presented in his paintings, photographs and sculpture. Visit


David Hance of the Davis Chorale said the group will remain online until fall. He expects its first in-person performances to be for the holidays.


Alison Flory of YoloArts highlighted a couple of its exhibitions. “ART. IN. ACTION,” featuring portraits of female African American heroes, is available in-person from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Thursdays at The Barn Gallery in The Gibson House, 512 Gibson Road in Woodland. It’s also online at

Through May 1, Gallery 625 features “Emerging + Artist = Show,” with nine regional emerging artists at various stages of their careers. The gallery is at 625 Court St. in Woodland and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The new Art & Ag program is up and running, where farmers open their land to local artists who want to capture landscape images. On April 22 and 24, the program visits Hungry Hollow Ranch in Capay, home of the Boundary Bend olive orchard. Visit for details.


Katharine Schultz of the Pence Gallery said it’s hosting virtual hands-on arts programs but may open them to in-person in July.

ArtSmart, an after-school program for children 6 through 11, is offered through Zoom. “Make it 3D” is from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Mondays, May 3-24, is beginning sculpture.

Two free, online art history lectures are coming up. On Saturday, April 17, Mariah Briel will discuss the history of maps and their importance and intersection in contemporary art and current events. On Saturday, May 8, Catherine Anderson will discuss recent research in 19th-century British art. Both are from 2 to 3 p.m.

Instead of its garden tour, the Pence plans “Art in the Garden,” a fundraising sale in the Pence courtyard, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 1.

The gallery is open to the public at 212 D St. The deadline is May 28 for submissions to its upcoming “Slice” exhibit featuring California artists. Visit


For more information on Arts Alliance Davis, to post an event or opportunity, or to subscribe to the mailing list, contact Autumn Labbé-Renault at [email protected].

Learn more about local and regional arts, Arts Alliance Davis and city of Davis Arts and Cultural Affairs through the following channels:

* Arts Alliance Davis Facebook

* Arts Alliance Davis website

* City of Davis arts Instagram @cityofdavisarts, hashtag #cityofdavisarts

* City of Davis Arts & Cultural Affairs Facebook

* City of Davis Arts website at