From a spark, the arts get down to business

Innovative partnership between business leaders and schools relies on a pragmatic philosophy: the arts are needed for economic survival

Here’s something to celebrate about Fresno County: Local business leaders and educators are leading the way in terms of supporting arts education in our schools.

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I got to know a lot more about the county’s innovative arts-business coalition and its SPARK! program when writing a freelance story that was posted yesterday on the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation website. The folks at Hewlett are so enamored of this program — which was originally conceived by Bob Bullwinkel at the Fresno County Office of Education and Darius Assemi of Granville Homes — that they awarded two sizable grants, totaling $280,000, to build the SPARK! program’s website and market it.

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Summer Arts drought officially ends

At a swanky party, Fresno arts community turns out to welcome return of a beloved summer institution

Welcome back, Summer Arts.

After five years spent cooling down in the climes of Monterey Bay, the California State University’s acclaimed summer program is back in Fresno. And I can already tell you that in terms of community reception, things are heating up. On Wednesday night a large group of supporters descended upon the Woodward Lake home of Armen and Dan Bacon to celebrate the return of the program (which kicks off June 26 and runs in two sessions through July 23) and raise money for student scholarships.

Summer Arts is an immersive session for students from all over California who get to work with world-class artists. There’s a great payoff for the community, too, in a series of public performance events.

Fresno State hosted Summer Arts for a monumental 13 years before the program scooted off to the coast, and the university was reluctant to see it go. Now that it’s back, I’m excited about covering some of the remarkable artists and students coming to Fresno.

I collected digital autographs of some of the people at the party, including key Summer Arts movers and shakers.


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Welcoming a (really tall) new downtown mural

What’s five stories tall and makes you proud of downtown Fresno?

The answer is a massive mural livening up the historic Fresno Bee building painted by Francisco Letelier and Mauro Carrera. The Arte Américas project will officially be unveiled at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 11, in a program that will include outgoing U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.

Musicians Omar Naré and Patrick Contreras will kick off the program, which also will feature words from supporters of the project and the reading of a poem by a student from a neighborhood school.

Frank Delgado, the executive director of Arte, says:

This is the thirty year anniversary of Arte Américas, and this mural simply emphasizes the impact that our organization has made on the Cultural Arts District and is a testament to the dedication that we have in continuing to make the Valley a flourishing place for Latino art. The best part is that we have plans to continue to install murals in the Downtown Fresno area.

Tiles will be sold to run along the base of the mural as a fundraiser for those murals.

A reception at 11 a.m. will follow at Arte.

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Mural artists Francisco Letelier and Mauro Carrera. Photo / Arte Américas

To subscribe to the email newsletter for The Munro Review, go to this link:

https://tinyletter.com/donaldfresnoarts

A blog is born

I’m here and I’m clearly passionate about continuing to cover local arts.

New platform. Newer Donald.

Welcome to The Munro Review, where I cover arts, culture and other interesting stuff in the central San Joaquin Valley. I spent the last 16 years covering local arts and culture for The Fresno Bee. Now I’m ready to take my passion for the arts to the next level.

Based on questions you’ve been asking, here’s a quick rundown to start things off:

Q: What do you plan to cover on The Munro Review?

A: I’m going to offer a curated look at the local scene with a special emphasis on theater, classical music, visual art, dance, the literary arts and anything else that strikes my fancy. I believe that advance stories about upcoming events are an important part of arts coverage because they give audience members added context in terms of relating to and connecting with artistic events. I’ll be continuing to offer a critical voice through reviews, and I will cover local arts news. I’ll throw in coverage of some of my own interests, too, including travel and books, and will likely be unleashing some Fresno-centric commentary from time to time. All this is in the early stages, but I’m excited about the possibilities ahead.

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Photo / Craig Kohlruss

Q: Will other writers be contributing?

A: Maybe! I’m starting off as a one-person show, but who knows what the future holds?

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