PICTURED: Still from Dale Griffiths Stamos’s Entwined

by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer



New Cultural Affairs Director for T.O.

The city of Thousand Oaks has named Jonathan Serret as the city’s new director of cultural affairs. In this role he will be responsible for planning, organizing and directing all operations, programs and services for the Cultural Affairs Department. Serret will also manage art and cultural events and public information for community and cultural activities.

Prior to joining the Cultural Affairs Department, Serret was the general manager and deputy cultural affairs director of the Bank of America Performing Arts Center, where he worked starting in 2017. He holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre and a master’s degree in leadership and management from the University of La Verne. He is a graduate of the Emerging Leadership Institute (2017) through the Association of Performing Arts Professionals and the two-year Venue Management School program (2019) through the International Association of Venue Managers.

“I am exceptionally proud of our Cultural Affairs Department team and the work which we have done at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center and in the community,” says Serret. “I am deeply honored to assume this role and carry the torch forward as we work to reinforce the importance of arts, culture and entertainment in the community and as a significant part of our local economy.”

kidSTREAM update

Camarillo-based kidSTREAM, the interactive children’s museum currently being built on the site of the old public library on Ponderosa Drive, did not open in 2020 as originally planned. Developments continue apace, however, as the organization named an executive director (Michael Shanklin) earlier this year and has recently partnered with design firm Landrec Playspaces to begin work on its one-half acre outdoor campus. 

The Thousand Oaks-based Landrec is taking inspiration from Ventura County’s heritage as it designs the museum’s outdoor space. A treehouse climber, drought-responsive creek, pygmy mammoth dig and agricultural space are all in the works.

“We’ve designed unique playspaces all over the country, but it’s truly an honor to be a part of something so special and located in our own backyard,” said Joel Shnowski, Landrec co-founder and lead designer, “Ventura County is where we make our family memories. As a parent of young children, I am deeply aware of the need for this resource in our region.”

kidSTREAM’s outdoor space is currently planned to open sometime in 2021. For more information, visit www.kidstream.org.

Our Ventura TV expands

Award-winning Our Ventura TV, a weekly talk show broadcast on Ventura cable channel 6, has increased it’s offerings since the COVID-19 shutdowns in March. 

In 2020 the show, which focuses on nonprofit organizations, community advocates, leaders and artists, has offered a record number of guests, most of whom have joined the program via video conferencing from their home or office.

“The Zoom platform makes it easier than ever to access the voices and causes of citizens and organizations who are making a difference in our lives,” explained Ventura artist MB Hanrahan, who also serves as an Our Ventura TV host. “We encourage everyone who feels they have a story to tell, or a cause to be revealed, to contact us. Not only are we continuing to do the work we always have. We are, with our guests, creating an Internet and televised historical witness to how the current events are impacting our local community.”

Our Ventura TV is broadcast on Sundays at 2 p.m., Tuesdays at 9 p.m. and Saturdays at noon on Ventura cable channel 6. All episodes can be viewed at any time on social media networks and at the show’s website at OurVentura.com.

OPC goes international

Wakanda Forever! Participants in the OPC Youth Workshop pay tribute to the late, great Chadwick Boseman. Photo courtesy of Ojai Playwrights Conference

The Ojai Playwrights Conference has partnered with the Almasi Arts Alliance to bring together students from across the globe in artistic collaboration. Starting in August, Youth Workshop Program participants from the U.S. and Zimbabwe, under the guidance of Kim Maxwell, Lily Brown and Gideon Jeph Wabvuta, took part in writing exercises, feedback sessions and Q&As with visiting artists to create original works. The students presented their productions in a special show that was streamed live on Nov. 28. www.ojaiplays.org

Steven Poster named OFF Distinguished Artist

Cinematographer Steven Poster was recently honored with the 2020 Distinguished Artists Award for Cinematography by the Ojai Film Festival. OFF presented the award during an online ceremony that took place on Nov. 8.

Poster, a native of Chicago, is known for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner and Donnie Darko. A member of the American Society of Cinematographers since 1987, he also served as ASC president in 2002. 

“I’m very excited the Ojai Film Festival considered me for this honor,” Poster said. “Being recognized for my body of work is the highest kind of praise for an artist.”

In other OFF news, the short film Entwined won the 2020 Bill Paxton Award. The 14-minute film by Dale Griffiths Stamos tells the story of an interracial couple that was driven apart by racist bullies, but find each other again decades later. This is the first time that a short film has won the award, which celebrates achievement among the filmmaking community of Southern California. ojaifilmfestival.com