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Arts & Culture

Leader Of City's Arts Commission Resigns

Denise Montgomery
City of San Diego
Denise Montgomery

Only one month into her post, Denise Montgomery is resigning as executive director of the City of San Diego’s Commission for Arts and Culture. In a brief statement sent via email, she writes:

"I wrestled with this decision out of commitment to the arts and culture community, however, I cannot in good conscience remain part of the Filner administration."

Mayor Filner is facing allegations of sexual harassment and calls for resignation.


The arts commission works with the mayor and city council to manage the city’s arts and culture program, which supports more than 100 San Diego nonprofit organizations through the Transient Occupancy Tax and manages the city's public art collection.

At a May press conference when her appointment was announced, Montgomery said “I’m thrilled I’ll be working for someone who already has demonstrated a strong commitment to arts and culture and understands the valued role of the arts in society and community life.”

Montgomery was hired after a five-month long national search. She replaced Victoria Hamilton, who founded the Arts and Culture Commission in the 1980s. Montgomery led arts programs for the city of Denver before coming to San Diego. She served as director of marketing for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Most recently, she has served as a consultant to many local arts organizations through her own consulting firm.

In an interview with Voice of San Diego, Montgomery said she was willing to return to government specifically because of Mayor Filner's commitment to the arts. "It’s pretty rare in the spectrum of elected leaders to have someone like Mayor Filner," she told VoSD. "Numerous times, I’ve seen him speak without any notes or talking points about the role of arts and culture in community and society and life, with conviction and with understanding. To me, that’s somebody that I’m really happy to have the opportunity to work for."