Stay Gallery forms preliminary board of directors

DOWNEY - Three months after opening, Stay Gallery downtown is putting together a board of directors to help guide the center towards its goal of becoming "the cultural hub of Downey." Prospective board members include small business owners, elected officials and community leaders. Their first meeting took place Jan. 9.

The tentative list of board members: Kirk Cartozian, former Downey mayor; Brent Tercero, mayor pro tem of Pico Rivera; Ricardo Perez, lawyer; Mark Brown, business consultant; Dr. Robert Jagielski, director student services DUSD; Phil Davis, Downey Adult School principal; and John Casillas, branch manager OneWest Bank.

Some of the names will become permanent board members while others will make up an advisory committee, said Valentin Flores, executive director of Stay Gallery.

"Our mission is to provide events and programs that inspire people to 'stay' in Downey. We seek to become the cultural hub of Downey by encouraging our community to come together through arts and culture," Flores said. "This is exactly why we feel it is so important to begin our regular board meeting, to help further development of the organization.

"We need to bring in fresh, new ideas without becoming overly bureaucratic and clunky," he added. "We want to find the balance with efficiency and allowing new ideas to be constantly coming in."

Councilman Alex Saab attended the first meeting, briefing the board on its legal and ethical obligations. Saab has been involved in the local arts movement for several years and helped with the incorporation of Downey Art Vibe.

Also present at the meeting was recently appointed planning commissioner Matias Flores, brother of Valentin Flores, who has also provided legal help through the process of becoming a non-profit, grant writing, and has contributed his help as needed.

For all its experience, however, the board is lacking in diversity and Flores is the first to admit it.

"This is far from what we all expect a final board of directors to look like," Flores said. "As of right now, we lack diversity. We don't have women, artists nor corporate representatives on this preliminary board. If we are to become the high impact non-profit organization that truly brings about meaningful art and culture events and programs, we need to reach a different level of diversity of culture, gender and experience."

The meeting ended with a group photograph and the presentation of a $7,000 donation by Mayor Pro Tem Fernando Vasquez.

"Fernando has been someone that has always believed in our vision and we thank him for making this contribution," Valentin Flores said. "We will use this money to continue making capital improvements to the gallery."

Meanwhile, residents are encouraged to get involved with the gallery by attending their events and meeting its staff.

"We truly believe that this is a catalytic project that will change our entire downtown," Flores said.

********** Published: January 17, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 40