Making Santa Cruz a Place Worth Living: Why Judy and Geoff Alexander are Arts Council Donors

Judy and Geoff Alexander have been passionately engaged in art for most of their adult lives and have supported the work of the Arts Council continuously for almost twenty years. They see their investment as a necessary vehicle to create the artistically vibrant community they enjoy so much.

“It would be a much bleaker experience living in Santa Cruz if it were not for all of the art activity, much of which is generated by, or supported by, the Arts Council,” explains Judy. “That’s why we support it financially. It’s a very important part of our lives.”

Whether it’s connecting with artists and their work through Open Studios, or providing a hands-on arts education experience for students, they have helped transform the lives around them while also creating a nurturing environment for themselves.

The Alexanders both appreciate how the Open Studios Art Tour connects them to the creativity of the artists who inspire them. Both inside, and surrounding their home, there’s hardly a space that isn’t graced by a piece of sculpture, pottery, a painting, or art furniture that they’ve acquired through one of their tours—nearly one a year for the past twenty-five years.

When they first moved here almost three decades ago, they had expected Santa Cruz to have a vibrant art scene. But, as Geoff recalls, that “Open Studios exceeded our expectations, not just in terms of access to art, but access to good artists in their own space, and what I might now believe to be the best- organized Open Studios events that I’ve ever heard of.”

Judy still finds it amazing how well the Arts Council helps connect the public to its artists, and also connects other artist to each other. She is a weaver of amazing human-sized textile sculptures, some of which adorn the collections of national art patrons. With a busy law practice and no time for her own creative pursuits, Judy drew a similar inspiration from other artists by witnessing their metamorphic process unfold between the walls of their studios. During those times, her experience with Open Studios helped offset the practical focus of daily living with a new feeling of wholeness that offered her a “complete life.” She says that it helped to know that other people in the world also considered the creation of art to be a critical component of the human experience.

The Alexanders also feel that art is necessary for our lives from the very beginning, which is another reason they support the Arts Council and its art education programs.

“We all learn things in different ways,” says Geoff, “and when the emphasis in the schools is primarily on academic learning, that does give opportunity to learn things intellectually. But that’s only a part of who we are as humans. The various forms of expression encompassed by music and art and dance and crafts are very important in rounding out a complete adult human being. Getting an awareness of that while students are still young—it’s incredibly valuable.”

As public schools, especially in poorer districts, have been hampered in their ability to provide access to the arts in their curriculum, Geoff says that the Arts Council’s role has become increasingly important as “one of the key bridges between the arts and students who wouldn’t otherwise have that kind of aesthetic experience.”

The Alexanders also give to the Arts Council because the programs benefit not just students and artists, but our entire community through events like the Ebb and Flow River Arts Festival.

“It was really powerful because of the community involvement around the various art forms,” Judy says of the festival. “It was not just like going to see a painting show. There were a lot of people impressed by it who would not ordinarily be part of the arts community.”

“And in that way,” Geoff explains, “they could be personally involved—not just as a spectator.”

Judy and Geoff also find that, as donors, they are able to connect with “creative, intelligent people” who are also involved with the Arts Council. As a couple who are committed to their community, and devoted to the well-being of those who live here, the Alexanders view their support to the Arts Council as instrumental in matching their giving with their ideals.

Geoff suggests that everyone should support the Arts Council for the same reason, “because of the vital role that the Arts Council plays in enabling Santa Cruz to remain such a vibrant center for personal expression in the arts. Not only is that good for the artist, but that’s also really good for the community and enables Santa Cruz to continue to be a place where people love to come to visit, to live, to create, and interact. The Arts Council facilitates that.”

If you’d like to join Judy and Jeff in helping Santa Cruz thrive as an artistically vibrant community, please consider making a contribution today.

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