Artcata and has made a big impression on all of us. For Jake, it comes down to the tamales, unsurpassed in scale and flavor. He also digs the skate park and the neighborhood boys with whom he is now playing basketball. For Michael and I, Arcata/Eureka is interesting for its similarities to and differences from Homer. While there is no single organization that does quite what Bunnell does, overall the neighboring small cities of Arcata/Eureka beat out Homer in the book “America’s 100 Best Small Art Towns” by 98 places for several years. These towns got 2nd, Homer got 100th place. The Arcata/Eureka area has a First Friday townwide gallery walk in Eureka and a Second Saturday Arts Alive Arcata-- art and music in every towncenter shop. I've made some great contacts and had a few informative meetings. Arcata's nonprofit Artcata Playhouse, like Bunnell, is also going for an ArtPlace Grant. See http://thelumberjack.org/2012/11/07/big-changes-for-arcatas-creamery-district/ ... as you'll see, very much like how Bunnell's envisions sparking a renaissance in Old Town, and a great affirmation and insight about cultivating community momentum. Michael and I met with husband and wife Jacke and Dave, E.D and Operations Mgr. of Arcata Playhouse and learned how they present very similar performance work to Bunnell, in an historic space off the town center. We saw a great show there--Jessica Lurie’s band, an impressive quartet featuring the most innovative electric guitar and banjo player I’ve ever heard. He totally fried a horsehair bow on the banjo and he sent us to another planet when he held a small radio up to his strings. Meanwhile, Jessica warbled into a toy megaphone against a scintillating backdrop of percussion and upright base.
Bob Doran, Arcata's local arts editor for the North Coast Journal, a weekly arts and culture rag, graciously sat down with Michael and I for an hour over coffee. This paper provides articles and a standing listing for every local arts venue, non-profit or not. I've come to think that Homer's media (public radio and the newspapers) actually diminish Homer's arts scene by under-reporting it. Everywhere, non profits in this country are trying to reach and expand audiences. Its a strain on small non-profit budgets to advertise in two newspapers for every event, especially when the volume of actual arts reporting is not half of what it could be. There was no feature story leading up to any of the events Bunnell presented in the past six weeks except for a small mention of Kathy Smith’s painting show. This is remarkable, in light of the volume of events Homer produces. Ironically, this week Homer’s nonprofits monthly meeting focuses on working with local media.