The city of Berkeley may adopt an official song, flag and motto in a city-wide contest open to all Berkeley residents.
City Councilmembers Ben Bartlett and Terry Taplin recommended the item to Berkeley City Council, who will vote to approve the proposal on Dec. 13. If approved, contestants would be invited to submit their creations for a chance to capture the voice of Berkeley in three artistic mediums.
“This is the home of humanitarian community values in this country,” Bartlett said. “It’s important to encapsulate the values of the city because we work hard to establish them and we want to memorialize them for all time.”
Among Berkeley’s core values, according to Bartlett, are “freedom”, “community” and “innovation.” He said the city’s rich history of the disability rights movement, free speech movement and local foods give Berkeley its distinctive character.
Berkeley is a city of creatives, according to Bartlett. He said the pandemic took a toll on several artists in the area, and this initiative would provide an opportunity for personal expression in the face of turmoil.
“This is a chance to come together and turn the corner from the isolation of the pandemic,” Bartlett said. “I want to launch into an era of people coming together in spirit in this town and watching something livable and fun.”
Bartlett noted that conversations started years ago about establishing a city flag, and he hopes this addition will put Berkeley on the national map.
He also noted the competition’s potential to stimulate the Berkeley economy through performances and merchandise sales.
“Berkeley itself is one of the top cities in the country of artists per capita,” Bartlett said. “Getting that massive cohort activated will generate value to the city.”
Upon approval of the recommendation, the Civic Arts Commission, or CAC, would facilitate and judge the contest, a process which Bartlett expects to take up to half a year. After narrowing down contestants, the CAC would recommend winners to the city council for official approval.
Bartlett said CAC will likely host pop-up sites for song and motto auditions, as well as post flag submissions across the city to “generate hype” surrounding the competition. He expects an inflow of applications from all ages, including students, professionals and senior citizens. He said he hopes the CAC will include opportunities for public input in their decision process.
Bartlett anticipates the innovative pieces Berkeley community members create. His final message to hopeful contestants is short and sweet – “Bring it on.”