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December 23, 2011 > State of the Arts

State of the Arts

By Margaret Talt and Margaret Thornberry, Fremont Cultural Arts Council

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." Pablo Picasso

What is it with cultural arts people? One sometimes hears this plaintive cry. Well, cultural arts people care. They care about creativity, originality, and beauty, about a better world, about people having access to art, music, literature, and theatre, even if some can't afford the cost. In addition to the volunteer organizations that work to provide art, music, literature, and theatre to children and adults in Fremont, is there any other entity that helps? Do Fremont's council and administration care whether the fine arts prosper here?

Yes, Fremont does care. The Recreation Division of the Community Services Department offers a broad variety of classes for ages two and up in drawing, cartooning, color, ceramics, glass etching, mural design, dance, music, voice, writing, and much, much more. Approximately 106 arts classes and 32 dance classes are available each summer and even more during the fall/winter/spring sessions.

For those who are unable to pay the moderate cost of these classes, scholarships of up to $75 per person are available. The Fremont Cultural Arts Council donates $1,500 to $2,000 yearly specifically for art scholarships. The city usually receives donations amounting to about $20,000 for general scholarships for all classes. In addition, public school teachers may request once-weekly programs integrating art, history, and drama with the classroom curriculum for which the specific school pays the city.

The classes offered are taught either by state-credentialed teachers or people with experience in the subject. Background checks, tuberculosis tests, and fingerprinting are done for all of the teachers.

Regarding the art courses, Recreation Supervisor II Irene Jordahl said, "The City offers a wide variety of arts programming for all different ages; we are always looking for new programs and we want to hear from the public about what the public wants."

Rena Dein, Teens and Community Programs Supervisor, offers a Young Apprentice-Movie Magic summer camp for ages seven to twelve. This program uses a hands-on integrated approach that blends practical knowledge, arts and crafts, role-playing, guest speakers, the origin of filmmaking, and a weekly field trip. Participants will create a story, script, set, and produce a short film. The campers also find out why Charlie Chaplin is still funny and how Broncho Billy became the first cowboy movie star.

For information and registration for Recreation classes, go to or the Community Services Dept., 3300 Capitol Avenue, Bldg. B, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or call (510) 494-4300.

On top of all this, the City of Fremont has partnered with the Fremont Cultural Arts Council, using the Council's pictures and research, to put information about art in public places in the city on the city's website. To view, go to http:///

What about the other side of the street? How does all of the above fit with cultural arts courses taught locally by private individuals conducting business enterprises? There are about twenty listings in the yellow pages of the phone book for art, dance, and music instruction in Fremont. These businesses draw from the same population as the city.

Donna Dellaria, Artistic Director of Mission Dance, 42068 Osgood Road, has not noticed any impact. Mission Dance has been in business for thirty-four years teaching tap, jazz, and ballet. Dellaria says word of mouth, drive-bys, and the Internet bring in students; in addition, students do benefit performances for charitable organization fundraisers, which provide further exposure.

Abrakadoodle, 2856 Washington Boulevard, teaches a variety of art forms to children two through twelve years of age. According to its website, Abrakadoodle's instruction exceeds National Standards for Visual Arts Education requirements. Asked if the City's recreational arts programs affect private cultural arts instructors, Director Ruth Yong thought that, yes, the City does have some impact.

Between the many volunteer organizations augmenting the Fremont Unified School District curriculum, the courses available from the Community Services Department and through private enterprises, Fremont is a city filled with children and adults interested and active in the cultural arts.

So what is it with cultural arts people? The diverse people of Fremont know that the cultural arts are satisfying, fun, and make their lives better, fuller, and happier.

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