Corky Nepomuceno Community arts promoter and creator of FullertonFoundry.com
Fullerton Foundry kind of spawned from spite. These two people that I was writing for, they were trying to come up with a publication, and in the beginning, you know, they were like “Oh, we can’t pay you or anything right now, but when we start our magazine, then we can retroactively pay you for the articles you’ve written.” And that didn’t materialize, and so I stopped associating with them, of course stopped writing for them, and somebody brought up the fact that “Well, why can’t you just continue on your own? Do the same thing, writing about different businesses?” And I’m like, yeah, I totally could. So that’s when I started doing it, and it was around the same time that Fullerton was all of a sudden known around the world because of Kelly Thomas’s murder. That was of course in and of itself very devastating to happen, to that individual, but also it was such a black mark for Fullerton. And I just felt that there was so much more to Fullerton that it could be known for, than such a dastardly act. That was when I was like, you know what, I will try to highlight some of the great things about here, you know? Of course Artwalk, different shops, really cool restaurants and bars.
Through Fullerton Foundry, I visited restaurants and bars and wrote about that, then some of the local shops or PR people would have events, and I would get invited and eventually became known as a media person… which is so odd to me! [laughing] Clearly, I have no credentials! And it’s a little strange, too, sometimes because some people will recognize me, or they’ll say “Hey, aren’t you Corky from Fullerton Foundry?” And that’s cool, because that’s really what I’m about, is just trying to promote better things happening in Fullerton and around Fullerton.
Initially, I had a few people who freelanced here and there, but not a lot, so most of it is me. I do it more as a hobby almost, and it’s not a monetary endeavor. I don’t have the business mind for it. I don’t have that mindset of “Oh, I should look for people to work for me and write this,” and I should, I really should. I mean, there’s just so much going on in Fullerton right now, it’s ever-changing. There’s always something happening.
My day job, which is my paying job, is actually at a dental office. I’m an office manager at a local dental office here in Fullerton, and that’s about it as far as that! I came into the Day of Music Board of Directors since its inception three years ago. And that’s a volunteer position, as is being on the Board of Trustees for the museum. That’s also non-paying. I was invited to join the Day of Music Board and for the Fullerton Museum’s Board of Trustees I had expressed interest a few years ago, and they didn’t have a position open at the time. And then when it did become available, they made sure to let me know.
For the museum, there’s almost two dozen on the Board of Trustees and it’s approving the budget and approving the exhibits forthcoming, things of that sort. The staff lets us know what plans they have and we ask them “How much money did this exhibit make?” and “What can we do to be more profitable?” It’s a very straightforward board.
For Day of Music, we are very much a working board, where you really have to do things to make it happen. It’s, like, on us. The first few years, Glenn, who was the founder, he was the president. And then this year and next year, I’m the president. We just had the event on June 21st, which is when the entire world has the music event. In Europe, it’s called Fête de la Musique. Here in the U.S. it’s called Make Music Day. Fullerton is the only one… Laguna Beach has been doing it for a few years, but it’s very small. And also they don’t do it every year. Possibly Downey? And certain cities have started joining the nationwide Make Music Day Alliance. I think San Diego just joined. The one that we pattern ourselves after out of all the cities is Madison, Wisconsin. They’re the most similar to our demographic: college town, drinking town, small town feel, but cosmopolitan at the same time. In fact, last year, we patterned ourselves so much from them that I copied their sponsorship page… just copied and pasted it and I forgot to change some of the references, so some of it said “Madison, Wisconsin” and Brent’s like “Are people donating to Madison, Wisconsin through our website?” [laughing]
So what happened for Day of Music this year, which was really cool, was that there was a female-centered venue at the Plummer [Auditorium]. I have a connection with KCET, Juan. We’re friends, and he’s a huge rising star over there at KCET. He has so many projects, they won Emmy awards, so I’ve been following this other project they were doing, which was an opera film. One day I’m like “Hey, how’s Vireo, the opera film?” He goes, “Oh we should be ready to air by springtime.” This was last year, so springtime of 2017. And I was like “Hey, can that be part of Day of Music?” So we totally got the go ahead to do it! That got our brains spinning, like where are we going to show it? We’re like “What if we do it at the Plummer?” We were looking at the rental fees for the Plummer and that was going to be a little pricy. Even as a nonprofit it was like $551 per hour. Because what we wanted to do, too, was not only show the opera film but we wanted it to be one of the music venues and have bands there. So, the whole day, like eight hours, you know? They weren’t budging. And then thankfully, one of our board members knows the president of the school board. So, he introduced what we wanted to do. And aside from being a nonprofit organization, we are kind of in the educational realm, because we are promoting art appreciation and also the education of music. So, a lot of e-mails and phone calls and a lot of headaches and talking to different people and they finally approved us so we would be able to use the Plummer as a Class 1, which is educational which means we didn’t have to pay the rent. We did still have to pay for the staff and utilities and whatnot but then we wouldn’t have that exorbitant rental fee.
I wanted to take full advantage of the venue. We’re going to screen the opera film in the auditorium itself, of course where the screens are and the seats. We wanted bands there, but we didn’t want them on stage because it just didn’t make sense to have pop or punk bands up on stage and people seated. It just wasn’t going to be a festival-like atmosphere. It was going to be really strange, and maybe like 50 people would be in a 1,200-capacity auditorium. Thankfully, they approved us to have the bands outside of the Plummer in front of the steps. Which was really surprising that they allowed us to do that! We put up some easy-ups there and got a bunch of bands curated by Orange County DIY. One of the girls there, she is a studio manager at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Radio. She was really great at approaching all these different bands, and they were all going to be female-centered. So, it’s either going to be an all-female band, or a very strong female-fronted band. We had nine bands, and we had a really great crowd.
When I was doing a walk-through of the Plummer, we passed through the lobby and it was such a huge lobby. I’m like, “Well, maybe we can make use of this lobby, too!” And so I asked, “Can I have an art exhibit here?” So this is me, cooking this up in my head, like, I would say maybe four weeks before our event. I approached all our local artists here, female local artists, so I got about 12 of them… we had all these gorgeous pieces in the lobby. They were either music or female-empowerment themed.
And then we had Burger Records; that was another project of mine. I needed to find them a venue where they would have their bands perform. So it was across the street from the college, you know there’s the sculpture garden, with the hand? They have that little gazebo and that was the stage. And they have a natural amphitheater where they have different levels of the grassy area with some concrete going around… super cool vibe. We started at around 3:00, going until like 11:00. We had a great turnout. In the evening, to see the crowd traversing from one venue to the other, from Burger and to Plummer and back and forth, it was so cool. I did that! That was my baby, that was my personal project in the realm of the Day of Music event. We had it all over town, I mean, I think all in all maybe we had 50 venues, including the kids’ activities. We had Villa del Sol, we had Black Hole Records, we had The Continental, Back Alley, Roadkill, the museum and plaza of course. It was a great event… based on the photos I saw! I was kind of stuck over there at Plummer and Burger just kind of making sure that everything went ok. So next year I’m hoping that I – well, I already announced it to the board – I’m not going to be stuck at a venue next year, I’m going to be roaming! Make sure the venues are all ok.
Eventually, what I’d really like to do is behind Bourbon Street and Slidebar, that parking lot that’s right there. It would really be great to close that off and have two stages. It’s right by the transportation center, by the train station, and it’s so visible, you know? Back in the day when Slidebar used to be a coffee shop called The Hub, they had almost like a backyard area with a little stage and they had a video arcade in the front called The Reagan Years … anyway, they would do this festival every year in the parking lot, so they were able to close that off, and that’s kind of my dream. Especially as my last year as president next year, to be able to bring that!
We keep pounding into our heads that we’re going to keep this manageable, we really want to keep it grassroots, we don’t want to go corporate… we don’t want Chevron sponsoring it! Never. [laughing] Not Chevron. For the record!
As far as aspirations, I think probably that’s what I’ve lacked all my life is an aspiration for a certain goal. It just seems like I’m more of a person of the moment, whatever comes my way, and it kind of just develops. It’s almost like a stepping stone, it’s come very organically. I haven’t really chased anything specifically, like “This is where I want to be.” But that could change! That could change next year. It’s great on the resume to say that I’ve had this experience so I might apply it to a job later on. But I would say a priority would be furthering Fullerton along culturally and putting a positive spin on the community. I know we’ve had a lot of problems here, and politics… politics is always a fun thing! A lot of controversy surrounding Fullerton and the governing of it. People have asked me if I would run for City Council, and I would not. [laughing] Hell no, no thank you. No, no, no. Not for me! [laughing] I don’t think I could swim with that crowd. Definitely not me. This is my part. This is what I’m doing for the community; I feel good about it. I feel that it’s something that’s easy for me to do. It’s not going to keep me up at night.
Ten years ago, I was doing nothing. I was doing nothing with my life. In fact, at that point, you know, you’re in your mid-life, like “What am I doing? I have nothing to show for myself, from these last four decades.” Then all of a sudden, in the past five years, all these different opportunities started coming about. More involvement with the food community and then the art community and then getting involved with Day of Music. And now part of the Fullerton Museum, just helping them more with financial aspects of it, but still being a part of it, making sure that it stays around. And then gaining some recognition with OC Weekly People Issue, and then just a few months ago I received a Woman of the Year award from the Senate. It was in the field of arts, for promoting the arts, so that was cool. I was really proud of that. And now, I’m like “Ok, I feel good. I’ve been involved in some things; some of the things have made a difference. Yeah, I’m good. I can live with that.” Don’t think it’s hopeless, because I had to wait until I was like 50 before it happened. There’s definitely time. You see that billboard with the 80-year-old woman and she’s finally getting her college degree… it’s never too late. Sometimes you find it, sometimes it finds you.