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.)

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (2)

  • Helga Medd

    It is an honor to Lilia Chavez. Lilia understands the art as based on human development. We must treasure this priceless gift to us. She operates at many levels to bring the best to us ‘all’ in our area. May we all help her so she can perform what she was meant to do. I love you so much forever. And thank you for writing an awesome tribute for my newly published book available on Amazon, FLYING AWAY…and read the recent comment. Helga F. Lutke Medd.

  • Helga F. Lutke Medd

    I punched a wrong button … my website is: I’m working with Barnes & Noble to have the book available there. I have NO clue remarketing and have a lot to learn. Hope you get my book! Sorry this got derailed……..Lilia is incredible and wonderful……. Helga Medd.


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