Owen Newcomer

City: Whittier City
Position Seeking: Mayor

Question 1: Please share the most meaningful arts and cultural experience you had growing up.

Theater Appreciation was the title of the class at Los Angeles Valley College. It sounded boring, but easier than my other options when I was a student. I enrolled and discovered live theater. I married a lady who teaches ballet, and she even has roles for me in her students’ performances. I have portrayed the father in the Nutcracker and the king in Sleeping Beauty. The arts enrich my life.

Question 2: What do you think should be the role of City Council in the development and support of the region’s arts and cultural infrastructure?

Whittier has a long history of supporting community theater and art in public places. Our city Community Theatre hosts Whittier’s plays and musicals. Our Art in Public Places collects a fee from new developments to fund art throughout the city. Developers also have the option of placing art in their new projects instead. We have even combined art along our Greenway Trail, which is an abandoned railway and now home to a bicycling and hiking trail with landscaping and mobiles.

Question 3: What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does art and culture play in achieving that vision?

Art makes us feel. Usually, it makes us feel good–good about ourselves, good about our community and good about our neighbors. Art in public places makes those locales more interesting. It also makes it easier to arrange meetings. When I say, let’s meet at the Red Dress, you know exactly where I will be. There is only one Red Dress sculpture in Whittier.

Questions 4: A recent report by the Otis College of Design found that 1 in every 7 jobs in LA County is supports the creative sector and economy in Los Angeles County. What strategies, if any, would you pursue to enhance the region’s creative economy (i.e. cultural tourism, indirect and direct jobs, nonprofit and for profit organizations)?

Whittier has many art related businesses, and one of the longest operating local art collectives in the region: the Whittier Art Association. The Whittier Conservancy has promoted tours of historic homes districts, along with the historic businesses. The Whittier Uptown Association promotes art themed pub crawls and holiday events with art as featured part of the celebration, such as Dia de los Muertos art exhibits.