Monday, June 10, 2024

North County Networking Event: Affordable Housing for Artists through Cultural Districts

 By Patricia Frischer, photos Nancy Heins-Glaser


Gerda Govine reading her poem Be Present.

Alex Goodman, NCAN board and Oceanside Theater Company welcomed this impressive group of VIPs from the Arts and Culture community to the Brooks Theater for the June North County Arts Network Networking event. He announced the next play Footloose the Musical presented by OTC Youth Academy from July 12-21, 2024 at the theater and pointed out the exhibition: Abundant Color by the Sargent Art Group at the Brooks Theater Gallery curated by Carole Naegle showing until July 28.

Alex Goodman, NCAN board and Director of the Oceanside Theater Company. Janice Davis, NCAN volunteer, in the background. 

Patricia Frischer, San Diego Visual Arts Network, spoke next as NCAN's Interim Chair. She introduced the amazing Gerda Govine, who recited her poem specially created for NCAN. Here are just a few of the first words to inspire all of us but read the whole of her recitation, Be Present. :

Be present
want arts professionals
to create a different world 

our story helps us breathe
give us moments
filled with action

let each of us
take a second look
focused on possibilities

Patricia Frischer, Interim NCAN board chair and founder/coordinator San Diego Visual Arts Network 

North County Arts Network celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and with its new nonprofit status, is ready to move forward. It will continue to build bridges not walls, believing that coming together is what gives us power. The contact they make with the community needs to be personal and meaningful. That is why most of those attending were given a shout out.

There was a full strategic plan presented but the two main goals continue to be civic advocacy and promotion of the arts. The past projects of NCAN are good proof of this. AEP5 Economic Summit at CCA, Escondido,  campaigning to bring back the SD County Arts and Culture Commission, Advisor to Arts and Economic Prosperity 6, Open Your Hearts to North County Arts and Participating in ArtWalk Carlsbad.
NCAN board member Andrew Utt , NCAN board and ICA director, would say…San Diego North County Arts. It’s not that Far!  NCAN would like to see a SD County Arts and Culture Tourist Board formed in the near future. 

There was a call for those present to think about joining the board of NCAN which has room for 7 more members and an endless number on their advisory board. A reminder was given to list your events on the NCAN events calendar.  

Jim Gilliam, NCAN board and Chairman of the  SD County Arts and Culture Commission

Jim Gilliam, Chairman of the  SD County Arts and Culture Commission spoke next with a brief report on the one-year-old commission. Their goals were knowledge, engagement, communication  and capacity. They have decided to ask for funding from the County Supervisors and Michael Angelo Camacho, Director of Government and Field Engagement at SD Art Matters stepped forward to request signatures on a support letter to this end. They are requesting two full time employees plus $362K in project expenses.

Michael Angelo Camacho, Director of Government and Field Engagement at SD Art Matters 

Jim then introduced Tracy Hudak, the Director of Field Engagement for CA for the Arts, who spoke to the group about the new AB 812 bill approved Oct 11 by the governor and authored by Assembly Member Tasha Boerner from our local county District #77.  It allows cities and/or counties to give up to 10% of its very low, low, or moderate-income housing to eligible artists as long as they are within one-half mile from a CA state or locally designated cultural district if certain income and occupation conditions are met.

Please note: local government for cities means municipal government, but for unincorporated cities that means the county government. The actual bill is from the state because the state determined that housing for artists is important as a fairness issue. 

CA for the Arts was a sponsor for Bill AB812 and Tracy
explained more about it and answered lots of good questions…PLUS she is gathering  those questions for a tool kit they are preparing to help cities take advantage of this new bill. You can listen to discussion recorded by Ms. Hudak, but the following are some highlights. If you have trouble with this video below here is a link to the 
 whole recorded discussion

Tracy Hudak, the Director of Field Engagement for CA for the Arts answers a question posed by Robert Parker, Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation. Ms. Hudak tested positive for COVID the day before the event but was able to attend by zoom.  

First a cultural district has to be designated. This could be spearheaded by a  paid arts administration if there is one, but otherwise, a Cultural task force or the Arts Commission would have to take up this cause. You do this through a Community Development staff person. You need lots of data to back up your ask (like that from AEP6 or the new data gathering survey funded by SD Art Matters in the near future). It is always important to have an elected person championing your position. We also learned that the tax records (for those that pay taxes!) records codes for categories of  income (for example: performing arts or commercial arts).

The state is actually going to recognize more cultural districts next year (but with no funding attached). We already have three in San Diego: Balboa Park, the Cultural District of  Oceanside and of Barrio Logan. But remember, it does not need to be a state designation. 

The local government has to pass a local tenant preference ordinance for artists. This should apply to either existing affordable developments or future developments and should note that a 10% set-aside for artists within a ½ mile of a cultural district. It means finding out about and getting encoded in land use plans and affordable housing policies as well as Tenant preference and Inclusionary housing policies (so important in determining how many units are required to be for affordable housing). It is possibly but unlikely that artists are already mentioned so they need to be added to these policies, ideally not only currently but retroactively. 

Also, the local government and housing development property management would work together to create an Artist Selection Committee. This is to help define who is an artist. Hopefully that would include more than just an income criterion and would include a diverse committee to validate the applicants. It would also consider artists who have "an engagement in and commitment to an artistic practice." This would include community based art.  

One of the most interesting questions was posed by Dinah Poellnitz founder of the Hillstreet County Club. She asked how are elected official of cultural districts held accountable for the determination of who gets the affordable housing? Tracy suggested that an arts based forum of nominated candidates during an election could be powerful. 

Once this is in place, then artist would submit a housing application to the property management company (private or public). Of course, the artists have to meet income limits. Usually there is a rating system so if the artist is also in another category (for example: veteran, handicapped, racialized development victims) that might deserve an higher score in the lottery, of affordable housing. But artist on the state level are not recognized as a category that needs to be treated fairly. 

Not too many cities have managed all these steps yet, but hopefully the tool kits will give examples and samples to help in the process. The tool kit will be pointing out that there are federal tax credits for 100% affordable housing units for artists.

What this whole complicated process proves is the need for every city to have paid arts administration that is professional and knowledgeable.

A few of the other guests at this event where capture by the lens of Nancy Heins-Glaser.

Naomi Nussbaum, NCAN board and Synergy Arts Foundation. 

Luis Ituarte, artist and Brigid Parson, NCAN board and Oceanside Arts Commissioner
Luis Ituarte will be exhibiting his artworks in the show Took a While curated by Roberto Rosique starting June 21 at the Centro Cultural Tijuana. 

Bob Lehman,  SD Museum Council , SD County Arts and Culture Commission 

Felicia Shaw, SD Art Matters, SD County Arts and Culture Commission. Felicia also announced a county-wide data gathering project that will be funded by SD Art Matters.

Naimeh Tahna Woodward from Encinitas Friends of the Arts

James Stone, Stone and Glass and Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum. We welcomed James' wife Carol Rogers, Escondido Public Arts Commissioner as well. 

Lisa Laughbaum, Luminary Arts and Arts Outdoor

Cathy Haven, Escondido Art Association

BL Lane, artist in the Abundant Color by the Sargent Art Group

Nancy Heins-Glaser, Fallbrook Art Association and our wonderful photographer

Please note: Board members Sharlene O’Keefe, Poway Art Center, Andrew Utt, ICA,  Brenda Andrews, Fallbrook Art Center were not able to attend but sent their regrets. You can contact any board members if you are interested in joining the boards of NCAN. 

Alex Goodman: Oceanside Theater Company 
Andrew Ütt: Institute of Art San Diego
Brenda Andrews: Fallbrook Art Center
Brigid Parsons: City of Oceanside Arts Commission
Jim Gilliam: SD County Arts and Culture Commission
Naomi Nussbaum: Synergy Arts Foundation
Patricia Frischer: San Diego Visual Arts Network
Sharlene O’Keefe: Poway Onstage

If you want to dig deeper into arts advocacy, CA for the Arts is holding Wonky Wednesdays on June 12, July 10 and Aug 14 from noon to 1:30. You can join in at

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