Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Call to Action by Patricia Frischer

The recent two part article by Kinsee Morlan in City Beat (Part 1 San Diego County's unusual approach to arts funding and Part 2 What more would we gain with an County Arts Council ) was a very fair handed report on the state of the arts in San Diego County. It clearly laid out the case of why San Diego County needs to step up and have a more professional administration to advise and organize the arts at the regional level. New funding from the California Arts Council will only be available to us if we get our act together and move forward.  Some of the biggest success stories are from regions that have embraced the arts as an economic driver. 
The arts community has a united responsibility to aid and support the goals of our supervisors, most of which are very worthy. So the time is over to think of the county administration as a source of funding hand outs.  We need to start giving back to our whole community to ensure its health and prosperity.
Ron Roberts, supervisor of District 4 wonders what we would gain by having an arts council. This is a valid question. We don’t need a superficial layer of bureaucracy. We need a serious and committed look at how professional arts administrators could improve a system that is stuck in the status quo and refusing to be open to new ideas. He has even gone so far as to say, “It’s just not going to happen while this board’s in place.”  Is that really the attitude that an innovative leader needs to have to ensure success?
We are asking the supervisors to embrace the art community and recognize that it is an aid to economic growth and a better life for the entire region.  We make a call to all the arts in our community to see how you can come together to collaborate and design system that will help us to help them. 
These are Dave Robert's (supervisor of District 3) stated objective (in bold) from his website and we think by giving these examples, it helps to clarify more how the arts are an aid to the system.

·       To be an independent and honest representative, who restores government accountability and promotes job growth – CULTIVATING THE ARTS CREATES JOB OPPORTUNITIES to aid economic development in the new economy. In 2013, the nonprofit arts and culture organizations stimulate the economy with over $186.8 million in direct expenditures. This includes $108.8 million in salaries supporting a workforce of more than 6500. The arts not only create jobs, they provide a competitive advantage in attracting new businesses and a skilled workforce. In addition, 13,391 volunteers contribute time, talent and resources to this sector. In 2013, over 1.6 million visitors traveled to San Diego to participate in arts and cultural events and pumped more than $850 million into the local economy. According to the 2013 San Diego County Visitor Profile Study, tourists who participated in an arts and culture activity stayed longer, spent more and used more hotel accommodations.  The average was $561 per trip (up from 2009) as compared with the average tourist’s $235 (down from 2009). In fact all these trends are up. Always nice to know that there are 850 million visitors to American museums, more than all those that attend major league sports events and theme parks combined.
  • To promote neighborhood preservation – CREATING VIBRANT ART PROJECTS FOR NEIGHBORHOOD builds PRIDE through BRANDING and the creation of ARTS DISTRICTS in communities, like North Park, South Park, Oceanside, Carlsbad, National City, Chula Vista, Encinitas, NTC Liberty Station, Vista, Escondido, Fallbrook, Barrio Logan/East Village.

  • To strengthen fire protection -  EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
    PROGRAMS for artists for example those by Synergy Arts Foundation which supplies education and funding for artists affected by the fires
  • To promote public safety - ARTS PROMOTE SAFETY by keeping a dangerous element off the streets by giving them a purpose, creating after school, healing arts and veteran programs
  • To improve libraries and parks  - ARTS PROGRAMS in the PUBLIC LIBRARIES  throughout the district and PUBLIC ART in the parks are great enhancements to our community. LIBRARIES ARE THE NEW CULTURAL CENTERS in their community that utilize the arts (visual, performing. literary, culinary, healing arts). The Encinitas Library, Carlsbad Libraries and new downtown Library are a prime example, which uses the arts to increase attendance for all ages and for life long learning.
  • To protect our coastline and open space – ARTS TAPS INTO EMPATHY with Programs like Sea Changes: Act (Part of the DNA of Creativity project) to draw attention to areas that need improvement like plastic pollution and sustainable fishing.
  • To preserve and promote initiatives to sustain our environment -  ARTS PROGRAMMING for environmental issues includes recycling, food banks, and shining light on issues like climate change.
  • To promote quality schools and opportunities for all to succeed - ARTS EDUCATION is fundamental to prepare our students of all ages for the challenges of an innovation based economy
We don’t particularly care what this administration on a county level is called, but eventually is needs to be formed and it needs to be approved of by all five supervisors so that funds can be directly equally to the whole of San Diego county. But more importantly it needs to be formed so that once and for all the county recognized the valuable role the arts play in our community and so that the arts community can align itself with the goals of our citizens. 
The call to action then becomes a call for collaborations to be set up in all areas of the county to investigate what each part of the county needs and how the arts can fill those needs. These collaborative groups need to share information among and between themselves. Then, when the time comes in the near future, when new or existing supervisors can open their minds, we will be ready.  

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