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San Diego Arts Events Attendance Jumped 24% Last Year

San Diego Arts Events Attendance Jumped 24% Last Year
GUEST: Dana Springs, executive director, San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture

Maureen Cavanaugh it's Tuesday, May 31, our top story on midday edition the yearly evaluation of San Diego's arts and culture events find the impact of the arts growing in San Diego. More people attended arts event last year in a broader range of nonprofits profit arts organizations received city dollars. Even the report find city arts writing the arts community is so asking the city to fulfill its commitment of a penny for the arts. Some say there is still being shortchanged in the proposed budget for 2017. Joining me is Dana Springs she's executive director of the San Diego commission for arts and culture. The commission gave slightly more money last year compared to 2014 to a handful of more arts nonprofits but according to this report attendance really lapped up from 4 million . two 5 million so what's behind that large increase? Well, isn't that an exciting jump in numbers. My best guess is that the Centennial celebration at Balboa Park was a big driver of increased attendance with 27 nonprofit organizations focusing on arts and culture services in the park and all the promotions and marketing that went into driving attendance into the park I think that could be a big reason why this number went up as much as it did Are you looking at this as evidence that the art scene in San Diego is writing? Absolutely. We are getting more positive response about the services that performances some of the exhibits, the praise, the festivals that the arts organizations that receive money from the city are providing. The diversity is greater in the terms of what's being provided and also where it's being provided. You'll see that there's a number in this report that also went up from year-to-year 14,000 visits to schools by the city's arts and culture nonprofits. Can you give us some examples outside of the score a breach of what events the commission helped fund last year? Really excited to report on funding the maker fair in San Diego that occurred in Balboa Park. I think that's behind the big jump in attendance. The maker fair to remind us was when the combined creativity and stem courses right? Science technology engineering math, innovation and maker artist, artisan maker culture. Even admit this decrease funding in attendance nonprofits helped by the commission spent actually significantly less money on salaries last year. Is that a potentially troubling sign? One thing I do want to point your attention to is that the nonprofit organizations that received city funding actually increased the expenditures they put into our local economy by 10%. Within that's number the salaries went down. I do not believe that is necessarily an indicator of trouble. Every year arts organizations have to tailor their programming and sometimes the programs are super expensive, they cost a lot of money to rent or the audit salaries are higher in any given year and then maybe in another year they are doing something that's a little leaner and meaner. These numbers as they fluctuate do not necessarily indicate a trend. I want to talk for a minute about the penny for the arts because that's been a sticking point for some arts fund -- arts community. The funding divert a portion of the city's hotel tax to the commission. The target is 9.5% for the upcoming budget but the mayor's revised plan keeps the funding flat that says 6.4%. Could that stifle the increases that you've seen, the forward momentum so to speak that you see in the arts? I think the forward momentum that we are seeing in the arts is being driven by the success behind the penny for the arts plan. Something to keep in mind is that the penny for the arts campaign is a five-year blueprint was approved by city Council and this is the fifth year and what we're seeing in the fifth year is that the mayor has increased the commission's budget by $4.4 million or 46% since FY 14 so while you are referring to a flat across the board allocation you are referring to a percentage that has maintained -- been static but the dollars that the OTS gone up. That means $1.4 million has gone into our budget this year. Lots of arts organizations are blogging for that penny for the arts target to be accomplished that 9.5%. I think that the terrific goal and I feel like the gradual achievement towards that goal has been supportive of the arts community in general and there's always more room for improvement in any sector. I'm really looking forward to working towards that. I have been speaking with Dana Springs executive director of the San Diego commission for arts and culture thank you so much. It's my pleasure Maureen thank you.

San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture 2015 report
San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture 2015 report
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Last year, about 5.3 million people attended events organized by nonprofits that received contracts from the city of San Diego's Commission for Arts and Culture, according to the commission's annual report. That's 24 percent higher than from the year before.

What's behind the surging interest in San Diego arts events?

Balboa Park's centennial was likely a big factor last year, Dana Springs, the commission's executive director, told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday.

"My best guess is that the centennial celebration at Balboa Park was a big driver of increased attendance, with 27 nonprofit organizations focusing on arts and culture service in the park and all the promotions and marketing that went into driving attendance into the park," she said.

Springs sees the attendance numbers as evidence that the arts scene in San Diego is thriving.

"We are getting more positive response about the services, the performances, the exhibits, the parades, the festivals that the arts organization that received money from the city are providing," she said.