Jim T. Gammill
Special to Valley News
Arts Council Menifee recognizes individuals each month whose efforts promote the arts throughout the community. This month’s award was presented to Bill and Julie Zimmerman, who both helped to establish the nonprofit, as Arts Council Menifee’s Ambassadors for the Arts for September.
“I am fortunate to be serving as mayor. I will continue to be an advocate for the arts in Menifee,” Bill Zimmerman said. “The city has incorporated a component for new development approvals to include public art in the design. We are even seeing new retail projects that include courtyard spaces to accommodate local artists and performers.”
“The arts are a valuable part of a community’s social infrastructure,” Julie Zimmerman said. “And we are fortunate to have an arts council, its talented artists and those who volunteer to make it so successful.”
Most Menifee residents know Bill Zimmerman as the city’s mayor, and many would recognize his wife Julie Zimmerman as a constant contributor to local events. Long before his role as mayor, he and his wife were instrumental in building Arts Council Menifee, hosting events and creating opportunities for local artists to display their talents.
“I remember sitting next to Dawn Smith at a 2010 City Council meeting where she shared her idea with me to start an arts movement in our new city. Hard to believe that was 10 years ago,” Bill Zimmerman said with a smile.
A few months later, the first kick-off meeting took place at the Sun City library.
Many goals and ideas were presented by those in attendance; Bill Zimmerman offered to design a logo for the new organization and chose to include the look and colors of a peacock based on Smith’s recommendation.
Arts Council Menifee still uses this original design as its logo.
Julie Zimmerman joined Arts Council Menifee in 2011 and served as the board secretary. The focus at that point was to create an art program for Menifee’s youth, but she also helped plan and promote art galleries, the annual “Menifee’s Got Talent” shows, as well as the popular “Arts Showcase” event at the Countryside Marketplace.
“It was a joy to see the children’s faces as they tried using real paint and brushes for the first time,” she said, referring to the free Summer Youth Art camp held in Quail Valley and Romoland neighborhoods each year.
Julie Zimmerman also spent many hours preparing the grants that paid for the professional instructors.
“We made a lot of new friends, all of them sharing a passion to serve others and promote art and culture,” Julie Zimmerman said.
In 2016, ACM’s board elected Bill Zimmerman to serve as its president.
He built rapport with the county supervisor and the city manager, in addition to college and school district superintendents. These relationships proved helpful in securing venues for many events. Around this time, Bill Zimmerman spoke before the Valley Health board and received a $25,000 grant that was used for free dance and visual art instruction classes.
He also presented an idea to the city’s parks commission to install rentable kiosks at Central Park for local artists to use, which have been recently completed.
Currently, he is helping coordinate an idea proposed by his colleague Matthew Liesemeyer, mayor pro tem of Menifee, to have artists paint patriotic and agrarian themed images onto utility boxes to dress them up.