Costa Mesa Meeting : Arts Group Theme: Let’s Get Political

Helping artists and arts officials to become more politically active within their communities is the purpose of the 13th annual Congress of the Arts meeting Thursday and Friday in Costa Mesa.

The California Confederation for the Arts, the state’s arts advocacy organization, is sponsoring the event, expected to draw about 380 people to the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel, congress officials say.

Confederation director Susan Hoffman said, “ ‘Arts Leadership/Community Vision’ is the congress theme, and we hope to help people assume leadership within their communities and become more politically involved” in advocating for the arts.

Last month, in a major symbolic and financial victory for the state’s arts community, the confederation helped win the restoration by Gov. George Deukmejian of $930,000 in challenge grants for the California Arts Council, which this fiscal year has a $15.5-million budget. The confederation’s goal is to more than double that budget by 1990.


Congress workshops and discussions, led by prominent community leaders and arts officials, will explore how to build personal leadership skills, identify community decision makers and make connections in politics, education, business and social services.

Thursday’s keynote speaker is Michael Lomax, the black chairman of Atlanta’s Fulton County Commission. Lomax, who hopes to run in Atlanta’s 1989 mayoral race, built his base of support within Atlanta’s arts community.

Other congress speakers scheduled include Robin Kramer, chief of staff for Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre, and Frederick Nicholas, board chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Orange County was chosen as the site for this year’s congress because it is “strategically important legislatively,” Hoffman said.


“We wanted to increase the bipartisanship of our organization,” she said, citing the county’s strong leadership in the arts from state Sens. Marian Bergeson, William Campbell and John Seymour.

Also, the county arts community--whose officials have held press conferences for the confederation and were hosts for get-to-know-you legislative meetings in Sacramento--"is pretty well organized,” Hoffman said.