Arts and culture committee may be ahead for Woodside
Woodside has cultures — an equestrian culture, a bicycling culture, a culture built around rural character — but does it have Culture? That would be a question for the town's arts and culture committee, if there were one, which there is not. Maybe next year.
On Dec. 11, the Town Council welcomed the idea of adding an arts committee to the nine current citizen advisory committees. A council resolution is likely in January that would establish the Arts & Cultural Affairs Committee.
"I think it's a great idea," said Councilman Peter Mason.
"I think we have an untapped source of energy," said Councilman Tom Shanahan.
"I think there are a lot of people who are talented in this town," said Mayor Anne Kasten.
Town Hall is prepared to provide seed money of a few thousand dollars, including money for a community survey, but expects the committee to sustain itself. "I would like everything they do to be self-funded," Town Manager Kevin Bryant told the council in response to a question on financing the committee from Mr. Shanahan.
As proposed by a group of 10 residents in a letter to Mr. Bryant, the committee would meet on the second Monday of the month and have 12 members. The mission: "To strengthen multi-generational community ties within the Town of Woodside by initiating, sponsoring and celebrating local art, creativity and cultural activities including but not limited to the areas of art, photography, design, music, horticulture, culinary arts, literature, drama and dance."
Twelve members makes possible working ad hoc subcommittees that can focus on particular topics, Suzanne Muller, one of the letter's signatories, told the council. "There really seems to be a tide of interest."
In establishing such a committee, Woodside would catch up with Portola Valley, Atherton and Menlo Park. Those communities also have venues available for public celebrations of the arts. In Woodside, public spaces with capacity for an audience are limited to Independence Hall, where the council meets, and the patio-like area outside Town Hall.
Venues are an issue, noted Mr. Bryant and Councilman Dave Burow.
"We can be creative about venues," Ms. Muller said. A summer watercolor class, for example, does not need to be inside at all, she said, adding that the Filoli estate on Canada Road and Mountain Terrace on Skyline Drive may have space available.
"I think there's a very clear need for this," said Alexis Bartlo, chair of the Livestock and Equestrian Heritage Committee and president of the Woodside Community Foundation. "I think it would be really interesting to expand the opportunity to get people together and to share and get beyond our interest groups."
Tom Johnson, another signatory to the proposal, remarked that "Woodsiders often coalesce around special interests such as equestrianism, biking, conservation, sustainability etc., and in some respects these special interests have come to define our Town's community activities."
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main," he said, quoting Renaissance poet John Donne.
"It's an opportunity for the town to bring people together and create a deeper sense of community," Mr. Johnson added. "We feel that the committee could help show ... that these people are not islands."