ART/CITY: Larry Rinder

The Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley is sponsoring the symposium “ART/CITY” on March 16, 2012. Participants have been invited to respond to the prompt “in relation to the arts and civic life, the question I am wrestling with right now is…” in advance of the event. This guest posting is by Lawrence Rinder, Director of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
Photo by Ben Blackwell
BAM/PFA has just completed a new five-year strategic plan. The plan’s goals are meant to define who we will be a year after moving to our new downtown Berkeley location—on Oxford Street between Center and Addison Streets–in 2015. The very first goal reads as follows: 
“BAM/PFA is a uniquely dynamic, diverse, and engaging cultural ‘town square.’” 
At our new location, one block from the Downtown Berkeley BART Station, on a street that sees ten thousand pedestrians per day, and in close proximity to major civic and cultural institutions such as Berkeley High School, Berkeley Rep, the Magnes Collection, Berkeley Farmers Market—and, of course, UC Berkeley itself—BAM/PFA has the opportunity to become a unique cultural agora, or “town square.” We aspire to embrace the tremendous energy of our new, diverse communities and to incorporate the liveliness, contrasts, and contradictions that come with being a cosmopolitan, urban cultural center. We will reach out to underserved communities, including schoolchildren and elders, by demonstrating the ways in which art can be relevant to individual life and community vitality. We will be a place that not only celebrates art and film, but which also serves as a place for cultural and social discourse on topics of timely relevance to our audiences. At this strategic location, we will serve as a vibrant meeting point of campus and community, a place where the most creative ideas and practices of the university are made accessible to the broader public.