2010-10-14 / Community

Former county supervisor pitches merits of new fine arts museum at Civic Arts Plaza

By Sylvie Belmond

AMBITIOUS PLANS—An artist’s rendering shows a new regional art museum just east of Dallas Drive near the entrance to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Frank Schillo, a former Ventura County supervisor and Thousand Oaks City Council member, worked on the museum concept with a group of 30 people. AMBITIOUS PLANS—An artist’s rendering shows a new regional art museum just east of Dallas Drive near the entrance to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Frank Schillo, a former Ventura County supervisor and Thousand Oaks City Council member, worked on the museum concept with a group of 30 people. A group of Conejo Valley community leaders and residents have a grand goal—to build a state-ofthe art regional art museum.

If all goes well, the new visual arts center will be in front of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and will open in the fourth quarter of 2016, said Frank Schillo at a recent Oak Park Municipal Advisory Council meeting. Schillo is a former Ventura County supervisor and Thousand Oaks City Council member.

The museum will serve the greater Conejo Valley region, including Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Calabasas and surrounding areas.

Schillo, who founded the Thousand Oaks Arts Festival in 2004, chairs the museum’s exploratory committee. The group is developing plans and gathering support for the project.

VOCAL SUPPORTER—Frank Schillo is the driving force behind the proposed fine art museum at the Civic Arts Plaza. VOCAL SUPPORTER—Frank Schillo is the driving force behind the proposed fine art museum at the Civic Arts Plaza. The museum is the fulfillment of a 2008 study by the Conejo/Las Virgenes Future Foundation, which indentified the need for an art museum to serve residents from Calabasas to Newbury Park.

“Ninety percent of people who responded said there should be a regional art museum,” Schillo said, adding that studies also showed that the art center should be near public transportation and where people congregate.

Thousand Oaks officials voted in June to allow the museum to be built in front of the Civic Arts Plaza.

“The plaza is the ideal location. It makes sense because it’s already a center for the performing arts,” Schillo said.

The museum will feature a permanent collection and will rotate traveling exhibits and the works of local artists.

Schillo said the building will cost about $30 million to construct. The museum committee so far has raised about $75,000 from members and private donors. The group hopes to broaden its fundraising efforts next year.

“The economic downtime is a perfect time to plan so we can be positioned to start fundraising when the economy improves. We also plan to raise money for an endowment so we can use interests from that money to operate the museum,” Schillo said.

According to an architectural design created by Behr Browers Architects Inc., the museum will be just east of Dallas Drive and will complement the Civic Arts Plaza.

The lower level will have a lobby with gift shops and a 2,500- square-foot multimedia art space.

The second floor will include a mezzanine with a view of the lobby, classrooms, administrative offices and a gallery for local artists. The third level will have galleries to display several small exhibits or a large one, and the fourth floor will consist of a roof deck with sculpture gardens and space for public gatherings and special events.

The 30,000-square-foot museum is designed to take up little ground space. The upper levels will extend over grassy areas on both sides of the structure. The outdoor space below the building can contain outdoor art exhibits.

After the presentation, Oak Park Councilmember Michael Paule said the museum will be a great addition to the cultural life of the Conejo Valley.

“It could also boost business on Thousand Oaks Boulevard,” he added.

Westlake Village resident Diana Malmquist, vice president of the museum’s committee, said the Conejo Valley is home to many artists and organizations that yearn for the proposed venue.

“People are very interested and involved in the arts in our community,” Malmquist said.

Although not an artist herself, Malmquist said she became involved in the new museum planning endeavors because art is a reflection of people’s lives and mirrors society.

“The arts bring a different perspective. Various types of art bring expression and meaning to the community, showing how people feel about life,” she said.

Malmquist has been involved with several other local arts organizations.

The regional art museum committee consists of about 30 individuals and community leaders. The nonprofit, tax-exempt organization aspires to make the visual arts accessible to residents throughout the region.

“You can’t imagine how many people have called saying they want to get involved, they want to be a part of it,” Malmquist said, adding that residents in nearby communities such as Camarillo also want to help.

“They want to work at the museum, but it’s not built yet. That shows how excited the community is for it,” she said.

For more information, visit www.regionalartmuseum.org.

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