Imagine a high-octane birthday party of about 35 three to ten year olds.
The music is rocking, the kids are pumping arms and legs; and Lishy Lou, wearing a red chiffon dress and swinging a red tambourine, and Lucky, with his beard, red string tie and jaunty beret, have become like ten year olds themselves.
This is the scene in the Topanga Library Community Room, commonly used for staid committee meetings, organizational planning and sometimes poetry readings.
According to Meredith Sires, the current Children’s Librarian and host of the show on this warm August afternoon, the program with Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band as well as other children’s shows during the summer was made possible by the Sheila Kuehl-sponsored Arts Commission.
“Sheila Kuehl’s office really came through for us with the arts commission. It’s been a great program,” said Craig Fischer, Adult/Teen Services Librarian, who observed the show from the back of the room. The noise level was unusual for a library but the music was infectious and the squeals of children irresistible.
There’s been a remarkable increase in focus on arts and diversity in L.A. County. In May of this year, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to create the first Los Angeles County Arts Department. The motion was coauthored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Board Chair Sheila Kuehl and was strongly supported by county arts funders, creators and institutions.
This department will transition the Los Angeles Arts Commission, which has operated since 1947. After an independent analysis of how the arts are funded in the county and comparing programs in many other cities nationwide, it was concluded that a departmental structure would allow the Commission to achieve optimal coverage, support and collaboration with other departments.
As reported by SVCnews.com, Sheila Kuehl said “Los Angeles County contains an unparalleled wealth of arts and culture. It makes sense that we establish a County department to support arts and culture. With this motion, we will provide the capacity for a robust department that can strengthen the arts and expand our commitment to cultural equity and inclusion.”
Lucky Diaz and wife Alisha Gaddis, aka “Lishy Lou,” sang, danced, played and cajoled their audience out of their seats for most of the hour-plus performance. As children and parents rushed in for autographs and private discussions with band members, Lishy proclaimed, “We’re from Los Angeles and we’ve been on tour all over the world ever since March, so it has been so nice to come back home and play to a small community like here in Topanga.”
When one considers that this team won a Latin Grammy in the children’s album category and has been called “the face of kindie music” by the Washington Post, that Topanga Library Community Room feels blessed indeed.