Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cultural District Public Input Meeting

by Patricia Frischer

Cultural Districts Public Input Meeting San Diego Region presented by California Arts Council  was on Mon, Oct 3 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at California Center for the Arts: Conference Center (340 North Escondido Blvd, Escondido, 92025)

There was a good north county attendance for this meeting put on for the benefit of the entire county of San Diego.Introductions were made by Ayanna L. Kiburi, Deputy Director of CAC, and Caitlin Fitzwater
Public Information Officer. Larry Baza who is the first representative to the CAC from San Diego (also Chair of the Commission for Arts and Culture) emphasizes he is representing the entire county,  We were led through a outline of the sort of information they were looking for by Jessica Cusick.

Basically AD 189 is legislature that approves a design for Cultural Distinct in California. It most importantly includes a clause that existing arts should not be displaces by this new designation.  Thirteen states already have similar programs and the CAC is looking for us to have a set of criteria in place by 2017. They hope to offer and encourage technical support, joint marketing, convening and access to state resources. The step before actually finding funding for the program is to complete a set of toolkits.

Cultural Districts can be complex combinations. They should be culturally rich, of course, but also diverse and creative. They might be a place where art is produces, consumed or preserved. They can be urban, rural or suburban. When they are successful, they have some pre-existing assets, have a good mapping system in place, have a coherent identity, have leadership from multiple sectors, have great collaborations and partnerships, and can present data with pictures and stories.  And one major quality that is so important to maintain and is central to success is authenticity.

We were asked to contribute comments that address worries and hopes and a large part of the audience stepped forward. The voiced concerns included a sample as follows:

  • What is the ability for cultural districts to support affordable studio and housing for the artists and small businesses that might be priced out when the district is successful?
  • Can you produce tool kits that are not just how to start but how to leverage the districts for ongoing success?
  • What kind of buy in is needed from the city of the district? What incentives could the city offer to make this effort tempting?
  • How can the district be leveraged to other parts of the state?
  • Is one plan sufficient for a state as diverse and large as California?
  • Can communities’ problems and causes be addressed by districts and can that be mandated?
  • How is tourism integrated in the promotion of the district?
  • Can a priority be given to those areas with no administration for the arts right now at all?
  • How will the program be funded by CAC?

All interested parties are encouraged to weigh-in via brief online survey, available at this link:

Click here to download the PowerPoint presented at the meeting:

Side note: There are now 14 categories for $14 million in grants from the CAC. This is greatly expanded and you are encourage to check out your own possibilities for qualification

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