Lucero Arellano ’84 (Communication Studies)

Sac State grad champions California art

In a world increasingly enamored with Skype and smart phones, it can be easy to overlook a more traditional form of communication: the arts.

And, at a time when history is being made by the moment and captured on Flip camcorders and camera phones, Lucero Arellano knows it can also be communicated through music and narrative.

As a Sac State undergraduate, she worked at Sacramento Community Radio, where she produced programs describing events leading to the Mexican Revolution and Cinco de Mayo. She also hosted a program on Latin American music and conducted artists’ interviews at the station.

Today Arellano is an arts specialist at the California Arts Council, where she has worked for more than 25 years. She manages grant programs that provide support for artists and art organizations statewide and oversees Creating Public Value, a program supporting small arts organizations in rural and underserved communities.

 As a member of the Western States Arts Federation’s Multicultural Advisory Committee, she provides input on issues of cultural diversity and is also advisor to the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture’s Transnational Cultural Arts Remittances Program.

“The importance of cultural equity and access to resources has been one of my passions, thanks to my father, who was my inspiration at an early age,” Arellano explains. “He believed in fairness and in the right to equal access to opportunities.”

As a communication studies major at Sac State, “I was fortunate to be at a university with a culturally diverse student body, and I benefited from an intellectual environment, both inside and outside of the classroom,” she says.

Arellano was influenced by the Barrio Art class she took and by José Montoya and Esteban Villa, prominent Chicano artist-educators and co-founders of the Royal Chicano Air Force artists collective.

“José and Esteban were influential in my connection and appreciation for the positive role of the arts in communities and in general,” she says. “I saw firsthand the role of the arts in a community’s creativity. Here, children and adults worked on art projects with the purpose of creating beauty and developing knowledge and skill in a particular art form or tradition.”

She says her degree was diverse enough to “prepare me to move into the different positions I’ve held over my career. It gave me the tools to become the administrator I am today.”

The California Arts Council’s budget was cut in 2003, she notes, forcing the suspension of many grant programs. The organization has had to be creative in its fundraising efforts, such as promoting the sale of arts license plates and the opportunity for California taxpayers to donate to the arts through their annual tax refund.

“Although these are difficult times economically, we recognize the social and economic impact of the arts in society,” Arellano says.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2011 edition of Sac State Magazine.

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