LCAC partners with Tulare COWtural Arts Foundation

By Carolyn Barbre

Back in September we wrote a slightly premature article about the Lindsay Cultural Arts Council hooking up with the CowParade that has been sweeping the globe. It was premature in that we later discovered there is a staggering licensing fee to be part of the CowParade licensed name/event.

However, if a community wants to have some designer cows on display that are not a part of the official CowParade, they simply have to find their own fiberglass cows (or any other critter they might choose) and not use the name.

It turns out that the Tulare Cultural Arts Foundation (TCAF) had come up with the very same idea, and problem. They also found the licensing fee a bit steep. But they were ahead of the game in that they had created a Web page to announce their plans. Having stumbled upon the TCAF Web site, we called to see if they would be interested in partnering with LCAC (similar to the way it was done for the California Mural Symposium in Lindsay in October), and they agreed.

TCAF president Steve Presant called and then stopped by to go over their game plan and see what LCAC was looking to accomplish. He was accompanied by TCAF member Don LeBaron who owns Arrow Dogs, an airplane shaped hot dog stand on L Street in Tulare.

The TCAF Web site offered cows for $1,500 from the foundation, which included a plaque for the name of the purchaser or sponsoring business, the artist's name and of course, the cow name. The sponsor may choose their own artist but the design for the cow is subject to the foundation's approval of submitted art work. Also the sponsor would be responsible for any payment to the artist.

"All we ask is that you let the foundation be the first to see your idea, and give hooves up to your design and choice of artist for your cow creation," it says on their Web site.

Then the cows would be on display in different high traffic cow path locations including the World Ag Expo and Tulare County Fair. They would also be on display in the two cities for up to a year to stimulate tourism before being put on the auction block.

It is here that the LCAC and the TCAF differ in their approaches to a COWtural Arts event. TCAF has said (although no sponsors have yet been signed on) that participants can keep their cows or put them up for auction to help support the arts in Tulare, specifically their mural program.

LCAC is attempting to build a cultural arts center/museum in Lindsay in conjunction with the city building a new Lindsay Library. This requires some big bucks, and, as has traditionally been done with cow parades, LCAC would like all the cows to be available for auction. And if the sponsor wants to bid on their own cow, that is more support for the arts. Of course all donations, from sponsoring a cow to buying it at auction, would be tax deductible to either group. Meanwhile the COWtural Arts event would receive state-wide publicity for the two communities and the companies sponsoring cows, primarily the dairy industry.

The California Milk Advisory Board recently announced that there are 1.7 million dairy cows in California and 2,100 dairies that sell more than $4 billion in milk annually. California made 1.7 billion pounds of cheese last year and will pass Wisconsin to be the top cheese making state by 2005. Tulare County is the top dairy producing county in California. Some laid back California cows could be an incredible marketing tool.

At the same time, California has cut its art budget to $1 million, down from $18 million in 2002. That is less than 3 cents per person for the state's 34 million residents. The national average is now approximately $1 per person.

In other words, if the dairy industry supported the arts and literacy, the arts would in turn promote or support the dairy industry. According to the Sacramento Advocate, nonprofit arts organizations add more than $2.1 billion to California's economy, create 125,000 jobs and generate $77 million in state and local tax revenues. For every $1 invested in the arts, $8 is returned to the economy in event-related spending by arts audiences, such as dinners, parking, shopping, etc.

Finally, the arts enrich us all. We asked if any students at Lindsay High School could knock out some cow designs in a rush order, and were rewarded with four clever ideas. The one that seemed most likely to reproduce well in newsprint was titled "Hand Cow" which we assume was a play on words from 'cowhand' by Heather Hurtado. It could definitely stand on its own in an art cow competition. Also submitted were an Aztec Cow in a clever Aztec motif that blended in with a gurnsey's natural black and white patchwork design, and the cow had an Aztec headdress. There was a Holy Cow in a monk's robe with a halo. These two were both unsigned. And there was a clever "Valley Girl" cow covered in fruit tree designs with grape vines dangling from her horns with the caption, "As if!" in Valley Girl jargon by Juan Zapata.

See how easy and clever and marketable it all is! Anyone interested in sponsoring a cow or submitting a cow design can contact Peggy Sanders at 562-4304. The LCAC Cow Committee will meet again with the Tulare COWtural Arts Foundation at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at the Tulare Chamber of Commerce.

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