By Anthony Small
“It is never too late to be what you might have been” is one of my life’s philosophies, and it’s attributed to George Eliot, whose real name was Mary Ann Evans, an English novelist, poet and journalist.
Evans wanted to escape the Victorian era’s stereotype of women’s writing as being too lighthearted and frivolous, so she adopted the pen name to be taken seriously.
Today, anyone can create and be heard, and although women and people of color are still underrepresented in the arts and creative sector, significant progress is being made.
I encourage everyone to create and share their perspectives through art, music, and writing, if only for yourself. You are putting something into the world that was not there before, something that may move or inspire others. The arts help build and unify communities, and help us understand other perspectives and cultures.
I recently attended the excellent OC Forum on The Future of Philanthropy in the Arts. It was hosted by OC Grantmakers Executive Director Taryn Palumbo, and included panelists who stressed that arts programs are not a frill or extra, but rather a solid investment in the community.
When we support the arts, it grows other segments of the economy, driving commerce to local business. Nationally, the arts is a $920 billion industry, and in California, the $233 billion industry accounts for more than 780,000 jobs.
I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to serve our community and our City Council on the City of Dana Point Arts and Culture Commission for more than four years, with my term ending this past June.
The experience launched me into this next chapter of my life as an arts advocate, CalArts grant review panelist and executive director of Music Preserves Foundation. Music Preserves programs share the rich cultural history of American music with schools and the community.
We couldn’t do that without the support of this very community, and I must express my sincere gratitude to the Dana Point Turkey Trot and participants for their very generous donations to Music Preserves and the Boys and Girls Club of Capistrano Beach, as we were beneficiaries and nonprofit partners of that world-famous event.
Also, thank you to our state’s CalArts grant program and OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett’s Arts Related Nonprofit Grant Relief Program for their support in 2021.
Music Preserves will make its return to Capistrano Unified School District classrooms in January, as it begins the 10-week Music and Cultural History program at R.H. Dana Elementary. We also look forward to being a part of Raintree Partners Art in Public Places programs, which will include a stunning augmented reality mural, rotating art exhibits and music programs in Prado Square.
Looking back on this past year, the highlight had to be Eddie Vedder’s Ohana Festival, where we witnessed the unique power of live performances, and the audience and artists seemed to let out bottled-up emotions and clearly did not take each other for granted.
Kudos to Live Nation and the Doheny State Beach team for all their hard work and making everyone feel safe in their return to rock and roll. I very much look forward to Ohana and whatever other world-class events Live Nation has in store for us in 2022.
I also hope to see the return of the legendary Doheny Blues Festival in May 2022 and the fantastic REDO Market, with its classic merchants and musical acts.
Lastly, I’ve been recording my original songs with producer Matt Samia, accompanied by members of Mojave Ghost and the incredible Corey McCormick, bassist for Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real.
Mojave Ghost will be opening for Berlin this Saturday, Dec. 18, at The Coach House. More info on them can be found at mojaveghostmusic.com.
And a big congrats to a Dana Point local, the great Kim Wilson of Fabulous Thunderbirds fame, on his 2022 Grammy-nominated solo album Take Me Back.
Anthony Small is Executive Director and co-founder of Music Preserves Foundation, a local musician and former City of Dana Point Arts and Culture Commissioner. Small and his family have lived in Dana Point for 24 years.