BRENTWOOD -- Jack Gaughan is a common sight around Brentwood, serving as president of the Arts Commission, a Rotarian on the board of directors for the Police Activities League, organizing Broadway Under the Stars and promoting the Brentwood Community Theater. He also serves as a public speaker, works with high school students in the Interact Clubs and even cooks pancakes to raise funds for the Heritage High School Band.
A well-known, vocal advocate for the arts and community service, with seemingly boundless enthusiasm and energy, this "arts activist" seems a natural choice for Brentwood Citizen of the Year.
He will be honored along with Gursky Ranch, business of the year, at a Chamber of Commerce dinner Jan. 18 at Trilogy at the Vineyards.
Gene Clare, member of the Brentwood City Council and himself Citizen of the Year in 2009, was one of three who nominated Gaughan, valuing him as someone who contributes to the better quality of life for Brentwood's citizens. Clare sees the award as acknowledgment of a person who cares and loves his community.
"Jack is the driving force of visual and performing arts in Brentwood. He has gone above and beyond with his caring, his passion and his volunteerism," Clare said. "He brought us Broadway Under the Stars, the Gallery on Second Street and revitalized the Art and Wine Festival. When a photography company closed, he was able to get all the frames and matting donated to the art departments of the high schools."
Steve Kinsella has worked closely with Gaughan in Broadway Under the Stars and recognizes him as someone who exudes the arts for the community's sake, who works for the greater good with no personal reward in mind.
"From his volunteering to financial structuring of projects, Jack is cognizant of the benefits to the greater Brentwood populace, not only focusing on projects at hand but also on how we ensure art's survival for the community of tomorrow," Kinsella said. "Jack is a "get-it-done" guy who's always on task."
Surprised and pleased by the award, Gaughan accepts it in the name of the things he espouses, the arts and community service, and sees it as recognition that these things are of value to the community.
As a Rotarian, Gaughan works with young people in the literary arts and through Interact Clubs where high school students participate in community service projects, describing a recent project where students finished painting a 40-foot-wide map of the United States at an elementary school.
He also feels strongly about the efforts of the Police Activities League, offering programs, such as after-school and special activities, sports leagues and an afternoon center, for at-risk children.
"Our goal is to keep them off the streets, to divert kids off a negative pathway to a positive one," Gaughan said.
On the arts side of his life, Gaughan aims to fill the need for more arts and theater in not only Brentwood, but in Antioch, Oakley and Discovery Bay, the greater community.
Beginning five seasons ago with Broadway under the Stars, a success in both performances and increased audiences, his current project is to expand beyond once-a-year musicals to year-round productions.
For this, the goal is a permanent home for the Brentwood Community Theater. Gaughan has selected the former Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, a 2,900-square-foot building, and has formed a corporation, the Playhouse LLC, for tis purchase.
"We're encouraging people to sign up and put money into the purchase of the building, which would be leased to the Brentwood Community Theater. It would be called the Downtown Playhouse and Gallery," he said. "I have commitments from people already and from now into January I'll be enlisting more people. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to reach the amount needed to purchase the building."
In this 100-seat space the Brentwood Community Theater would put on a year-round program of dramas, comedies, and mysteries. Between shows, there would be guest events, speakers and lectures, and rental potential for recitals and small weddings. Community groups could hold meetings there and rent space to have a physical address and dedicated phone line.
Gaughan welcomes being named Brentwood Citizen of the Year and plans to use the recognition as his "bully pulpit."
"When anyone asks me to get up and say something I'll talk about the arts and volunteering because that's what I do," he said. "We all need arts and culture in our community. The best communities around, the most popular, are those who have cultural things within the community."