Opinion: Arts Groups Look to the Future

More than ever, artistic vision requires stability

Music Director Daniel Stewart rehearsing with the Santa Cruz Symphony. PHOTO: Kevin Monahan.

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

Completely by coincidence, I have two stories in this issue about beloved local arts institutions making big decisions about their future. It makes me think about how the Covid-19 pandemic has basically put all arts groups at a crossroads, and it’s interesting to look at how the Santa Cruz Symphony and Santa Cruz Shakespeare are responding to that in ways that seem very different at first, but actually have a lot in common.

The symphony, as you’ll read about in my cover story, has signed Music Director Daniel Stewart to a 10-year extension. That’s a huge win for the organization, as Stewart was being courted by at least two major metropolitan operas, and for Stewart, as contracts of that length are almost unheard of in the symphony world. The organization is doubling down on Stewart in the biggest way they can, and he in turn is affirming that his musical vision and ambition—which, as you’ll see from reading about the season he has planned, is substantial—can be fulfilled here.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s plan seems different in the sense that they are betting on a new leader now that artistic director Mike Ryan will step down. (This is Ryan’s choice, of course; I’m sure SCS would have gladly signed him on for as long as he wanted.)

But on closer analysis, these two organizations are doing something very similar: seeking stability, and looking way ahead. The latter especially is not something arts groups are famous for, but I suspect that many more will have to do so. Ryan is not stepping down until after the 2023 season; if you consider that he informed the SCS Board of his intention two years ago so they could begin a search for his replacement, that’s five years notice. Charles Pasternak, who will replace him in 2024, has already stated his intention to work closely with Ryan to make the succession seamless, and said that he intends to extend and build on many of the policies Ryan has already put in place.

These groups are constructing their futures in very smart ways, and I think when you read my stories on their programming plans, you’ll agree that these carefully considered foundations, and the innovation they support, will benefit those of us in the audience most of all.



Letters to the Editor

Re: Ride Out

I got caught in the traffic gridlock. It took me 45 minutes to go from Seabright to the Point. The bikers acted entitled and had a scary, mob-mentality vibe. My friend said they were pounding on his truck as he was trying to get out of the harbor area. He said it was scary. I was trying to be patient, but it was annoying to have people come into our town being disrespectful.

— Justin


Sorry the bikes inconvenienced motorists in their pursuit of destroying the climate. I guess that’s an inconvenient truth. Ride on.

— William


So what, Santa Cruz was clogged for one day out of the year. Be thankful we have the kind of community turnout for these unique events. It’s what keeps the city alive.

— Josh

Re: Measure U

Really good and comprehensive article that should result in a serious debate over the many issues involved. A real debate would allow residents to understand there are trade-offs and consequences with every policy decision. Of course, you would need representatives of the multiple perspectives to be part of the discussion.

— Ann

Re: Youth N.O.W. Closes

In a county as rich as ours, this is beyond disturbing that our youth have yet one more program close on them. Between not having programs that support them, housing costs so high that many are facing impending homelessness and dealing with a pandemic (sans support), our community and county are failing our youth terribly.

Adults complain about youth and their lack of fill-in-the-blank, and yet when there is a program as amazing as Youth N.O.W. out there, but it can’t remain due to funding … that’s a crime. Especially in a rich county like ours. What is it going to take to keep programs like this one open for our youth?

— Valerie Arno

Read the latest letters to the editor here.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you an earthling? Prove it with logic: *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

To Top