Appeal-Democrat Archive Writing

Reich says area ripe for performers

September 24, 2007

The theater is a very important part of Robert Reich’s life. He’s worked with Shakespeare in Oregon and Utah and the ballet in Sacramento. He’s just kept away from the spotlight.

“I have no desire to get on stage,” Reich said. “I prefer to leave it to those who do it better than me – much, much better.”

Reich, 53, has been executive director of the Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council for a month. He’s been married to his wife, Kelly, for 16 years and has a 12-year-old daughter.

While he’s shied away from the stage, Reich stayed close enough to it to direct and produce a few smaller productions. His primary focus has been on the marketing end.

“I was really interested by the challenge of increasing the visibility of the arts in the area,” he said.

Reich sees a ripe opportunity for growth.

He is examining the school districts to see what foundation is being laid for students who might not realize they’re interested in the arts.

So far, he said, the Yuba City Unified School District and the Marysville Joint Unified School District are doing a good job using their resources.

Reich’s interest in arts in the schools goes back to his own theater roots. He started in high school with a few productions, and 20 years ago he was directing 400 kids in a production of “The Nutcracker” in the Napa Valley.

“It’s a passion that started in high school; then I went to college and kept doing it,” Reich said. “I had a lot of fun and wanted to make a career out of it.”

As for the rest of the community, Reich is focused on cutting down the commute in search of the arts. The problem is the lack of visibility for local events, so people drive to Sacramento or Chico, Reich said.

“There are a lot of quality arts activities that people just don’t know about.” he said. “People need to know they don’t have to go as far for the arts because there’s more going on here locally than they know about.”

But for those already in the know about the arts in the Yuba-Sutter area, Reich still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

In Fairfield a few years ago, he worked on an arts series that pulled in prominent actors such as John Amos (Kunta Kinte in “Roots”), John Aston (Gomez, “The Addams Family”) and Vicki Lawrence.

“I would love to see something like that in Yuba City,” Reich said.

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