Meet the newest member of the California Arts Council: Fresno’s Lilia Chavez
Score one for Fresno’s arts scene.
Lilia Chavez, director of the Fresno Arts Council for nine years and a passionate advocate for the arts for nearly four decades, was appointed Tuesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the California Arts Council.
The council is made up of 11 members appointed to provide program recommendations, approve funding allocations and serve as advocates for the arts across the state.
The last time someone from the Fresno area was appointed to the council was in 2007, when Carlos Martinez (then the director of the Fresno Arts Council) joined the board. In 1991, Larry Balakian was a prominent appointee.
Nearly 30 years but just two appointments to this important arts agency for this region? Not such a good record, and an indicator of how the central part of the state can get ignored by the arts-establishment behemoths of the Bay Area and Southern California.
But Newsom appears to be delivering on his commitment to increased attention and resources for the less wealthy interior of the state.
For Chavez, a seat at the table in Sacramento won’t make her wealthy — the job pays expenses at $100 per diem — but will give her important influence.
“As a representative for the Central Valley I can bring to the council issue and program recommendations that can address the unique issues that impact the arts in our area,” Chavez told me Wednesday.
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The appointment requires confirmation by the California Senate. Along with Chavez, the governor appointed two other new members: Alex Israel, of Los Angeles; and Jonathan Moscone, of San Francisco. There are multiple term options, and Chavez has not yet been told how long her term will be.
Two things are for sure: This is a big honor for her. And a great thing for Fresno.
(Note: Updated to reflect that Carlos Martinez was a California Arts Council member.)