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August 31, 2010 > State of the arts

State of the arts

By Margaret Talt, Fremont Cultural Arts Council

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of every day life." Picasso

Do you know what FCAC, FAA, FSG, OHAG, and ARB mean and how they are related? Fremont has an alphabet soup of cultural art organizations. Here is who they are, what they are about, how they are interrelated and sometimes work together.

FCAC is the Fremont Cultural Arts Council, an all-volunteer umbrella organization with the broadest scope of interest of the local arts groups. The FCAC purpose stated in its by-laws is to coordinate, promote, and support cultural arts activities in Fremont. Margaret Thornberry is the current president.

The FCAC is located in the Fremont Community Activity Center, 3375 Country Drive, formerly a private residence now owned by the City of Fremont. The organization manages the Center, providing a number of arts and non-profit groups with office and meeting space. It also supports or co-sponsors a number of local arts-related events, such as the FAA Plein Air paint-out at Lake Elizabeth, cultural arts to schools (CATS), Art in the Park at historic Shinn House, Annual Juried Photography Exhibit at the main library, the Young Composers portion of Fremont Symphony Orchestra's Children's Concert, Las Posadas during the Christmas season, and much more.

Three times a year the FCAC publishes the "Fremont Focus," a comprehensive calendar of local cultural arts activities. This bright pink publication is free, includes a handy reference guide to local organizations in addition to the arts calendar, and may be found in a variety of places, such as the libraries, community centers, FAA Gallery, and some coffee shops. The "Focus" may also be downloaded from the FCAC website (

FAA stands for the Fremont Art Association, a fast-growing organization of tri-city artists, photographers, jewelry creators, and potters. The current president is Patty O'Rourke. The FAA exists to promote public interest in local artists and enhance artists' opportunities. The FAA does this through maintaining a gallery in Niles at 37659 Niles Boulevard, art and photography classes, quarterly exhibits, Art in the Park, and plein air events each year. Plein air refers to outdoor painting of scenery and is a one-day affair with the pictures available for purchase.

FSG signifies the Fremont Symphony Guild. The Guild is composed of volunteers who support and promote the Fremont Symphony Orchestra. Members raise funds, host post-concert receptions for musicians and donors, present a Sugar Plum Party for children after the Christmas Nutcracker matinees, and assist with programs, such as the Children's Concert and Young Artist Competition. The current president is Caryl Dockter.

OHAG identifies the Olive Hyde Art Guild, which occupies the Olive Hyde Art Center buildings located at the corner of Mission Boulevard and Washington. The buildings were donated to the City of Fremont in the 1960s by Miss Olive Hyde of San Francisco to be used for cultural purposes. Gail Blalock, current president, furnished the following information: The Olive Hyde Art Guild is a volunteer-supported, non-profit organization formed to promote interest in and appreciation for the visual arts in the Fremont Community. The Guild assists with programs and activities at the Olive Hyde Art Gallery, helps fund special exhibits and capital improvements, donates art books to area libraries, supports art education in local elementary schools, and provides art scholarships and awards for local students.

ARB is the Art Review Board, the five-person group responsible for choosing art that will grace buildings owned by the City of Fremont. Funding for city art is provided by virtue of the city's art policy, which decrees that one percent of the cost of any construction of a city building or park be set aside to provide art for that building or park. The ARB may also pool funds for use on other public properties. Ray Tong is the current president. People interested in serving on the ARB apply through the city clerk's office, and are selected by the mayor, subject to approval by the city council. Presently the ARB has one vacant position.

The FCAC, FAA, OHAG, and FSG are all volunteer organizations and sometimes work together or with the city to achieve a result or create an event. The ARB members, although volunteers, have official city responsibilities, status, and are affiliated with the Planning Section of the Community Development Department. What these groups have in common is the desire to foster a community with cultural activities to be enjoyed by all, a community of which residents can be proud.

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