Monterey County Arts Council’s new music initiative

THE ARTS COUNCIL for Monterey County celebrates Youth Arts Month by launching a campaign to restore the arts to every school. “Exciting trends have all come together recently. After nearly a generation of valiantly struggling with less and less time and less if any funding, people who care about the arts and education in California now have a unique opportunity to create the new normal — high quality arts programs for every student wherever they may live,” notes Executive Director Paulette Lynch, who cites new developments:

The restrictive and narrow curriculum of the No Child Left Behind testing regimen is giving way to programs that value questioning, exploring and creativity.

District Superintendents have more funding on a more reliable basis and more flexibility in the allocation of that funding from the state.

In return, they are required to create a more welcoming school environment, engage parents and include the community at every step.

Meanwhile, every day now, neuroscientists publish a new study explaining the myriad ways the arts are the answer to greater success for every learning brain. ‘What part of the brain lights up when we are engaged in music? The Whole Brain!’

“We are starting this year with Music for All Monterey which will become a template for other districts in the county. Local supporters are already helping provide more music and arts programs this spring and helping to fuel the campaign,” she says. “When Lois Mayol was searching for ways to promote the value of learning music, we talked about these new trends. Thanks to her support, we have engaged Boots Road Group to ensure we make the most of everyone’s time and energy. We also have the guidance of the California Arts Education Alliance. Through their expertise, we already know that we are not the first county to create this kind of campaign! In Pajaro Valley Unified School District, they now have 14.5 art teachers as a direct result of community campaigns.”

“The arts are the answer for success for every student and we are proud of the programs we support through grants and the services we provide for thousands of students through our Professional Artists in the Schools Program and there will always be an important role for each of us to play – but there are 69,000 students in the public schools in Monterey County – we are thrilled by the possibilities that we can ensure that there will soon be high quality programs for each of them on a more sustainable basis,” adds Arts Council Board President Lynn Diebold.

To find out more and decide what you can do to help, visit the arts council website:
today at or send email directly:

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh

By Philip tennessee williamsPearce

I’VE JUST finished reading New Yorker drama critic John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams, Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh. Nominated for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award it’s a superbly written, painstakingly researched account of a great playwright and deeply troubled human being, whose unequivocal genius walked in a faltering lock-step with his serious emotional immaturity.

Lahr draws parallels between the themes and characters of Williams’ plays and poetry and the chaotic events and relationships of his life. I was puzzled by one recent review (New York Times, I think) that wished the book had stuck to the acknowledged Broadway and Hollywood successes and given less analytical attention to Williams’ unsuccessful works. But this is no editorial puff piece, no neat summary of highlights. It’s precisely in the way the book deals with scripts you’ve probably never heard of (The Gnädiges Fräulein, The Eccentricities of a Nightingale) that you understand the struggles and contradictions of a great artist’s disintegrating personality and eclipse, from the ‘60s to his death, as a recognized and marketable playwright.

For most of his life Williams was dependent on the kindness not of strangers but of patient and gifted professionals like Elia Kazan, who applied his theatrical genius to essential textual changes when Williams’ poetic sensibility was getting in the way of a script’s power and playability. Kazan’s intense twelve-year personal and professional partnership with Williams came to an uneasy and equivocal halt when he didn’t warm to directing a production of Night of the Iguana. Williams’ agent Audrey Wood, who loyally steered her volatile client through the depths and shoals of Broadway success from Menagerie to Iguana, was summarily, hysterically and publicly sacked at a 1971 drinks party for not showing enough enthusiasm about a Williams play called Out Cry which went on to failure.

In 1969, Williams was committed by his politician brother Dakin to a St Louis hospital for treatment of a near fatal addiction to alcohol and drugs. Williams never reconciled with Dakin and for the rest of his life cast himself in the role of a helpless victim of sibling rivalry hurled heartlessly into a psychiatric snake pit. This pitiable picture never acknowledged that the three months of enforced rehab, in Lahr’s words “gave him back his life and another decade of writing.”

Starting way back in the glory days of The Glass Menagerie, Williams took on a succession of live-in lovers, each more psychotically abusive than his predecessor, and died alone in a New York hotel room packed with a massive stash of drink and drug containers, empty or in process of use.

Lahr’s portrait is uncompromising but it’s just as intense in its recognition of the more widely documented brilliance of his subject’s achievements as a dramatist. He writes, “In his single-minded pursuit of greatness, Williams exhausted himself and lost his way. [But] in the game of hide-and-seek that he and his theater played with the world, Williams left a trail of beauty so that we could try to find him.”