Friday, April 26, 2024

Happy Anniversary, SD County Arts Commission…and many more!

 by Patricia Frischer

Left to right: Ladan Akbarnia,  Juliet Rodriguez, Ada Shido, Monica Hernandez, Jay Bell, Sharlene O'Keefe, Felicia Shaw, Jim Gillam (chair), Renée Richetts, Jennifer Jeffries,  Bob Lehman

The SD County Arts and Culture Commission celebrated it first year this month with an event at The Soap Factory Event Center. It had a busy year writing by laws, mission, vision, shared values, equity statement, goals and the start of a strategic plan. It also worked to revised the public art policy which was sunsetting, thus offering an immediate opportunity to advise. All this in one year, but one of the most important things it needs to do is make sure it survives. This means it needs financing. It was financing that closed down the commission 30 years ago.

A small group of us in an informal Confab worked very hard to make sure the commission started again with the unanimous vote of the county supervisors. And we recognized that this could not just be an advisory body, it had to have funding to pay for full time staff and to do the sort of data gathering and communication and advocacy that is vital to our arts community.

Both the vision and the mission are pretty standard fare although hours were spent word-crafting all the documents: “We envision the County of San Diego as a champion of a thriving arts, culture, and creative community” and “Our Mission is to support and sustain the growth and vitality of San Diego County’s diverse arts and culture communities.”

You can read many more details on their website but the goals were knowledge (like mapping all the arts resources especially civic ones), engagement (especially with their supervisors so their good works are recognized and supported), communication (make sure you Sign up for their email messages as right now the mailing list only about 100 strong), and capacity (the afore mentioned need for finances starting with State/Local designation with the $75.000 that comes with that title)

Of course, they will need private foundation funding, as well, and they continue working on their strategy which will grow and change. They are trying already to move public art funding from 1/2% to one full percent and to remove the cap of $500K a project. Many of their changes have been accepted already including the advice that this should apply not only to new county building over $10m but any renovations over that amount. There are already members of the commission working on individual public art projects like Renee Richetts and Sharlene O’Keefe from District 2.

We suggest you meet and communicate with your elected supervisors and their appointed commissioners.

District 1 Supervisor Nora Vargas: Art Commissioners Monica Hernandez and Lucas O'Connor

District 2 Supervisor Joel Anderson: Art Commissioners Renée Richetts and Sharlene O'Keefe

District 3 Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer: Art Commissioners Ladan Akbarnia and Jay Bell

District 4 Supervisor Monica Montgomery Steppe: Art Commissioners Felicia Shaw and Bob Lehman

District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond:  Art Commissioners Jennifer Jeffries and Jim Gilliam

Youth Commissioners: Juliet Rodriguez, Ada Shido, Michael Kozma

We have been attending meetings of the commission for the last year and you can do the same without having to travel downtown. You can watch online and raise your virtual hand to make a comment before each agenda items.  For more info: Visit the SD County Arts and Culture Commission website or contact Giang Meyers at

Just a world about CoPlace, the development company that owns property on Commercial Street where The Soap Factory is located.  They use artists to activate run down areas of town and get it ready for re-development. We well know that artists bring economic prosperity. But we think that it is time for the artists’ sweat equity to become real equity.

Affordable housing for artists is a high priority in our area and Tasha Boerner’s bill AB812, allows for 10% of affordable housing within a half mile of any designated Cultural District. You can learn more about this at another important convening. North County Arts Network Networking Event on Thursday, May 30 from 9:30 to 11 am at the Brooks Theater (217 N Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA 92054). It is time to gather and exchange ideas for the future of North County Arts and Culture. Information will be presented about AB812, Summaries of the Arts and Economic Prosperity report and progress from the new SD County Commission for Arts and Culture will be hot topics. This meeting is for arts organization and local arts agencies leaders and their staff. Please RSVP

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