City of Davis logoThe City of Davis is honored to announce that it has won a 2020 Helen Putnam Award in the category of Excellence in Economic Development through the Arts. The award was announced during the League of California Cities Annual Conference & Expo last week.

The City received this prestigious award for “Light the Way: A Bike Safety Musical,” an original production commissioned by Bike City Theatre Company (BCTC). The City’s goal was to create local, original creative content that employed safety messaging and promoted the environmental and public health goals of its Safe Routes to Schools program.

“The City of Davis is honored to receive this award for economic development through the arts,” said Davis Mayor Gloria Partida. “Our local artists and arts administrators were innovative in leveraging available funding to support future organizational growth, audience development, and long-term financial stability in addition to providing a fun, educational platform to promote active transportation, physical fitness, emotional well-being and environmental health.”

BCTC created original, in-school educational content for the Davis Joint Unified School District elementary schools. “Light the Way: A Bicycle Safety Musical” is based on the true story of Annie Londonderry, who in 1895 was the first woman to ride around the world on a bicycle.

The musical incorporates original songs that promote and teach bicycle safety in a memorable and engaging way. Annie travels from the United States to London, Spain, Saigon and Japan, trying to outrun two misguided villains, while befriending historical figures and learning about bike safety along the way.

The all-school assemblies addressed important equity issues in the Davis community by providing the same content to all students and supported scaffolded learning for students who may not be entirely proficient in English language skills.

The musical encouraged community partnerships and inspired many others to keep involved in theater. Outcomes from the project include:

  • The project helped to cultivate support from the community that continues, including event underwriting from local businesses and access to space for planning and rehearsals.
  • A collaborative relationship has formed between BCTC and the UC Davis Theatre Department to recruit and hire students as paid performers and interns – a rare opportunity that affords young aspiring artists with the chance to gain valuable real-world experience prior to graduation.
  • In all, 29 young theater professionals were involved and have gained experience in acting, costuming, writing, stage and theatre management, sound and light production, marketing, videography and photography, and other creative talents that contribute to our growing local pool of talent and provide them with marketable career skills.
For more information, see the League of California Cities press release:

The League created a short video about the project at:

About The Helen Putnam Award for Excellence

The Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program was established in 1982 in honor of Helen Putnam, the League’s first woman president and dedicated public servant and mayor. The award recognizes outstanding achievements made in California’s communities in 12 categories and is presented each year at the League Annual Conference & Expo.

About the City of Davis Arts & Cultural Affairs
The City of Davis Arts & Cultural Affairs Program supports community-based arts projects, cultural opportunities and education initiatives that foster excellence, diversity and vitality in the arts. The program is the clearinghouse for all creative activity in the City of Davis government and serves the entire Davis community.