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Arts Commission looks to define their role in community
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“Change” is the word of the day at the Turlock Arts Commission. After one year without a paid arts facilitator the commission has decided to pick up the pieces and move on without a paid staff member. They are also looking into changes that can make them more productive as a volunteer committee.

The Turlock Arts Commission met on Thursday to discuss their role in the community. At the meeting it was announced that seven commissioners have resigned, including commission chair Dustin Soiseth and his wife Kate Soiseth who took jobs in another part of the state.

The commission can have a total of 25 commissioners at one time. There are currently 14 commissioners serving. The commission, which meets once a month, has not met quorum several times this year because of low attendance numbers. Without quorum — 50 percent of commissioners plus one — they cannot vote or make decisions as a commission.  Candy Klaschus, interim chair of the Turlock Arts Commission, said that a lower total number of commissioners will make it easier to meet quorum requirements on a regular basis. 

With attendance problems behind them, the Turlock City Arts Commission has decided to focus on their current and future role in promoting arts in Turlock.

“The commission was in a funk as to 'what is our role,'” said Juliene Flanders, Turlock recreation superintendent.

Flanders explained to the current commissioners that part of the confusion over what that role was came when the Community Arts Facilitator position was cut from the City of Turlock budget. Without an arts facilitator — a paid staff member — the commission was suddenly left without a full time staff to organize and execute the programming that the commission voted into place. Some of the Turlock City Arts Commission activities, including the Ring of the Arts, was put on hold at that time.

 Flanders said that the commission does have a budget, but they have to raise the money themselves before they can spend it. The Turlock City Council will not fund arts commission projects, Flanders said. The Ring of the Arts was one major source of funding for the Arts Commission. However, Ring of the Arts memberships have been suspended until TCAC reinstates the program.

Klaschus said that in the past the arts commission did most of those duties themselves. She said they had come to rely on city staff to do a lot of the logistics and public relations work for them. When they suddenly were left without a facilitator, there was a huge question as to who would do what work, Klaschus said. Most arts commissioners have full time jobs and there was no clear division of commission jobs between them.

“We are finally getting back to that point where we were years ago, when we did all of these tasks for ourselves,” Klaschus said.

One step taken on Thursday was the nomination of officers within the Turlock Arts Commission. Klaschus said that in her four years as a commissioner there has never been a secretary or a treasurer. The commission will vote on their new officers at the August meeting.

The Turlock Arts Commission is also looking for community input on the type of programming they should look into. They discussed sending a survey out to all former contacts through the e-mail lists they still maintain.

The Arts Commission is also looking to establish a stronger presence on the World Wide Web. They hope to update their current website or start a new one that will act as their link to the public between meetings. They hope to keep the website up to date with arts happenings in the area and news from the commission. The public is also welcome and encouraged to attend Turlock Arts Commission meetings, which take place on the second Thursday of every month.

Klaschus and her fellow arts commissioners hope to move forward and expand on the programming that they are already working on. In addition to the Turlock City Arts Gallery, located in City Hall, the commission is also planning a Dia de los Muertos program in the fall and a giant egg public arts instillation in the spring. Commissioners agreed that they need to continue the conversation about their role in the community and in what ways they can focus on the arts. Klaschus said that they hope to get back to what the Turlock City Arts Commission once was, without the help of a paid facilitator.

“We don't need to reinvent the wheel here, we just need to change some of the spokes,” Klaschus said.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141.