Established in 1969, the Arts Council of the Conejo Valley continues to this day operating on one central goal: to strengthen the cultural community of the Conejo Valley region.
“The Arts Council of the Conejo Valley is over 50 years old; it originally began by Dr. Adams, who taught at California Lutheran University,” says Council President Patricia Johnson, of Westlake Village. “He saw a need for the arts to grow and thrive in the Conejo. Hopefully, we continue and improve on his view of the future.”
The Arts Council of the Conejo Valley, an umbrella organization for nonprofit cultural and art groups, has a history of successful partnerships in the community. It has joined forces and worked toward a common goal with three major partners—the City of Thousand Oaks, the Conejo Recreation and Park District and the Conejo Valley Unified School District.
Membership in the council allows groups to rent rooms at the Hillcrest Center for a reduced price. It also assists members with marketing through a bimonthly Arts Scene newsletter, access to email blasts, and mention of their activities on the council’s website, ConejoArts.org.
Additionally, “they are welcome to attend lectures and workshops to help grow and enhance their organizations,” Johnson says.
Music & Theatre
The Arts Council’s predominant role in the community includes working with the Conejo Recreation and Park District’s Cultural Program to sponsor the Music in the Schools, as well as the All District Music Festival.
“We hire the teachers and handle their payments,” Johnson explains. “We also sponsor the Young Artists Ensemble which allows youth to get professional instruction in stage performing via their many productions.”
The Arts Council also curates a number of shows for visual artists.
For instance, “we curate five shows a year in the Galleria at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts,” Johnson says. “Everything from fabric, to oil, watercolor and mixed media appear so the artists can be seen, appreciated and hopefully sell.”
In the spring, the annual May Open Show is designed for any visual artist, 18 years old and up, to show and sell their work.
“We also give cash awards as determined by judges in each of the categories,” Johnson says.
In January, the Arts Council sponsors the “Hang with the Best” art show, open to all students 6th through 12th grade.
“Again, we offer cash prizes as determined by our judges,” says Johnson, further noting artwork is accepted through February 7. “I am always amazed at what the students can do. Some are truly talented and follow through on their art education.”
In other local efforts, the Arts Council collaborates with UBS Financial Services to curate four shows a year at their offices.
“I wish more companies in our area would also get involved with hosting art shows,” Johnson adds. “Clients enjoy the shows and the artists gain more recognition.”
The Arts Council also collaborates with Art Trek in Conejo Public Art with its current project, Conejo Cottontails. These 5-foot-6-inch-tall fiberglass rabbits are painted by professional artists and purchased by local businesses and organizations and displayed for the public to enjoy.
Why Cottontail Rabbits? In the 1800s, a Spanish governor granted 48,000 acres of land to two loyal soldiers—one who named his property Rancho El Conejo—thus becoming the basis of the Conejo Valley. Conejo means “rabbit” in Spanish, of which there are likely some tens of thousands living today throughout the valley.
Conejo Cottontails can be viewed at The Shoppes in Westlake, Cancer Support Center in Thousand Oaks, CRPD’s various events, the Goebel Adult Community Center and Stonehaus at Westlake Inn. Additionally, a Touchdown Rabbit purchased by the Los Angeles Rams sits at the Promenade in Westlake.
“Currently, an artist is working on one for the Westlake Golf Course,” Johnson says. “There is also a rabbit on the grounds of the Civic Arts Plaza which was donated to the city by the Brooks family in honor of their mother, who originally thought of this project before ill health brought it to a halt.”
“We envision rabbits all over the Conejo and would like to see the Auto Mall, hotels and the Oaks get on board,” adds Johnson, further noting that the proceeds from this project pay for art classes for seniors and elementary schools.
In its latest endeavor, the Arts Council’s newest project is its Legacy Fund, which is strictly for scholarships for college-age visual and performing art students.
“Encouraging the arts creates a vibrant, energetic, cultured community,” Johnson says. “It allows for the spirit of a person to be expressed in performance and visual art.”
Currently, the Arts Council of the Conejo Valley has about 300 individuals supporting its work, along with 60 nonprofit organizations.
“We need more so that the current programs and many more can be done,” Johnson says. “We want to sponsor workshops and lectures; to present more events spotlighting social and community issues. These all take money and person power.”
Individual dues are $35 a year, and the groups’ fee is $60.
“Of course, donations are always appreciated,” Johnson says.
Join the Board
The Arts Council is seeking additional board members; meetings are the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts.
“Our present board is a hardworking group with each in charge of a specific project,” Johnson says. “I would hate to ignore a project because we have a lack of person power.”
Above all, members of the Arts Council of the Conejo Valley love art—both visual and performing.
“In fact, some of our board members are professional artists,” Johnson says. “As for me, I’ve been singing in Village Voices Chorale for 30 years and my husband for close to 40 years. It gives us joy, improves our breathing, provides a social contact and with concerts, allows us to share the beautiful music.”
All of our lives are affected by art—from commercial to computer graphics to plays to concerts to admiring the skill of a gifted artist, Johnson adds.
“It allows our souls to grow,” she says. “Come join us in this valued endeavor.”
For more information, call 805.381.1244 or visit ConejoArts.org.