A standing-room-only crowd filled the lobby of the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater last week for the first Napa County State of the Arts meeting convened by Arts Council Napa Valley (ACNV).

Established in 1980 as a nonprofit membership corporation, ACNV provides ongoing support for visual, performing and literary arts programs throughout Napa County.

Despite its checkered past, today I can report good news on all fronts. Holding the reins of ACNV is president and CEO Olivia Everett, an emerging arts administrative superstar.

During her two-year tenure, Everett’s solid direction has infused a refreshingly younger, smarter approach in articulating, funding and realizing ACNV’s mission, vision, values and programs.

This was evident throughout the two-hour gathering. Everett invited attendees — artists, administrators, donors, educators and business owners — to engage in an evening of arts “catch-up,” and hear what’s in the works — present and future. She asked that smartphones not be silenced, and tweets were encouraged.

After a welcome by board chairwoman Carlene Moore, CEO of the Napa Valley Fair Association, Everett thanked the organization’s funders and “Set the Scene” contextually, clarifying some of the arts-specific principles that guided the creation and strategies of the 2008 Community Cultural Plan.

Included are core values, cultural process, ecosystem, cultural vitality and my personal favorite, key industry issues. As a performing arts presenter, I find that information such as “motivations and barriers” plus “audience data” helps plan future organizational strategies.

And stats can also be enlightening. A 2015 report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) shows that 73 percent of those surveyed are motivated to attend the arts to socialize with family and/or friends, while only 51 percent attend to support the community. Those who don’t attend cite time as a barrier (47 percent) and lack of someone to go with (22 percent).

In addition, data collected from a 2012 NEA Audience Data study show that only Latin, Spanish or Salsa music attendees increased in number from 2008 as compared with classical music, jazz, dance (excluding ballet), ballet and opera.

Next up on the podium, Robin Hampton, coordinator for the Napa County Alliance for Arts Education, reviewed the goals of the alliance — “to strengthen community support for the arts as essential to a comprehensive education for every child in Napa County” — and progress-to-date in networking, advocating and cheer-leading for arts education in the schools.

Two additional speakers rounded out the evening: Kelly Konis, vice president of marketing for Visit Napa Valley, shared the organization’s arts and cultural tourism strategies; followed by Danielle Smith, Arts in April producer, with a preview of coming attractions for this annual, collaborative countywide celebration.

The evening made clear that the arts are becoming a major contributor to the cultural (and economic) life of the Napa Valley, pervading our wineries, restaurants, downtowns, venues, businesses, festivals and street life, thanks in part to ACNV. It’s no small task!

To learn about the what, how, who and where of the arts in Napa County and nationally, I encourage you to visit two links: the complete ACNV “State of the Arts” presentation at issuu.com/artscouncilnapavalley/docs/sotapreso_20150216_final_lores, and for recent arts stats, arts.gov/news/2015/surprising-findings-three-new-nea-reports-arts.

Enjoy!

Evy welcomes your comments and arts news at evywar@gmail.com.

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