Although thirty years is a very long life in the world of community arts organizations, Emeryville Celebration of the Arts at thirty is a thriving and developing youngster. Among the many reasons for this longevity: a community bursting with creative talent, an intelligent and determined administrator continuously at the helm since the project’s inception, interest and active volunteerism in the community as a whole, the generosity of the business sector and support from city government.

I think it fair to say that the Celebration of the Arts has become a village tradition. The initial participants in the exhibition were largely members of the 45th Street Artists’ Cooperative, an early model for artists’ live/work spaces that provided the core for the city’s cultural development. As this once industrial mile square city slowly develops into a broad based contemporary community including entities as diverse as Pixar and Novartis as well as modern housing, public spaces and commercial centers, the exhibition grows to provide a forum for all artists living or working in Emeryville. All are invited to submit work to the annual juried exhibition.

As curator for the last five years, I have come to understand and appreciate the diversity of this community which had previously been a mysterious entity lost somewhere in the East Bay sprawl. It now has a face or rather many faces. I also understand its importance as a catalyst, inspiring experienced as well as aspiring artists to create new work.

Emeryville Celebration of the Arts appears each year after months of planning and then disappears to re-surface in yet another donated venue with its own peculiar set of problems to be solved before it can be transformed into an exhibition space. With a thirty year proven track record, the viability of the project cannot be in doubt. The logical next step is a permanent space for culture in Emeryville. A space for exhibitions and performing arts as well as community events and arts education for all ages. A space for beauty and community, pleasure and inspiration.

Kathleen Hanna