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Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute Focuses on the Arts

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By Lookout Staff

November 3, 2015 -- The Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute will present two forums this month focusing on the role of art in today's society, school officials said.

The first forum, held Monday, November 16, will be hosted by Austin Beutner, the former publisher and CEO of the “Los Angeles Times,” who tried to stem the decline in print circulation by tapping into greater community engagement before his abrupt firing by the Tribune Company.

Beutner, who is a member of the boards of The Broad Stage at SMC and CalArts, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, “will share his insight into the significant role public policy plays in the creation of a vibrant civic society that values art and culture,” officials said.

The free event will take place at 7 p.m. at the Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center at 11th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard.

The following day, Tuesday, November 17, the Public Policy Institute will present the panel discussion “Thinking Inside the Box: How the Public Sector Can Support the Arts.”

The panelists are Crossroads founder, Dr. Paul Cummins, president and CEO of Coalition for Engaged Education (CEE); music instructor Mary Ann Cummins; Bruria Finkel, an artist and longtime driving force in Santa Monica's arts community, and Jessica Cusick, the City's Cultural Affairs Manager.

The panel “will highlight the importance of the visual and performing arts in, and to, our society, how expression through the arts can influence ideas and change perceptions, and how community advocacy can contribute to public policies that support the arts,” Policy Institute officials said.

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Richard Tahvildaran Jesswein, Chair of Excellence, Philosophy and Social Science at Santa Monica College, and co-director of the Public Policy Institute.

The panel discussion will take place at 11:15 a.m. in Art 214, the 2nd floor lecture hall of the arts building on the Main Campus, 1900 Pico Boulevard.

The Public Policy Institute “provides nonpartisan community programs exploring key economic, social, and political issues” and “presents informative discussions on the policy issues that affect our daily lives,” officials said.

The Institute offers an Associate in Arts degree and a Certificate of Achievement in Public Policy that allows students to choose to specialize in one of five policy areas -- Arts and cultural affairs, education, environment and sustainability, public health, and urban/socioeconomic affairs.

For more information, visit, email, or call 310-434-3541.

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