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San Diego mayor, other leaders announce arts, culture investment guide

Todd Gloria, Raul Campillo
Office of the Mayor of San Diego
Todd Gloria and other community leaders announced the Creative City framework for future San Diego cultural projects at an event at Barrio Logan's Bread & Salt arts center on April 1, 2022.

In conjunction with Arts, Culture and Creativity Month, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria on Friday announced the city's first planning process to guide arts and culture investments in every community.

Speaking at Bread & Salt, an art gallery in the Barrio Logan neighborhood, Gloria said the effort "will improve neighborhoods, boost our economy and enhance San Diego's quality of life."

"Part of what makes San Diego a great city is our vibrant arts scene and rich cultural heritage, which is not only connected to our history but also the diverse communities that call our city home," the mayor said. Dubbed "The Creative City," the cultural planning process will begin this June and is expected to finish in 2024.


The city's goal is a policy and planning framework that would align cultural investments with the priorities of San Diego communities over a period of seven to 10 years.

According to the city, "The core value for the initiative is equity, with a guiding principle of racial, cultural, economic and geographic inclusion throughout the process."

"The Creative City" framework may focus on areas such as artist/creative workforce development and retention, neighborhood creative hubs, arts marketing, cultural tourism and collective impact strategies for regional arts philanthropy.

City updates on policy framework will include the recently adopted comprehensive Parks Master Plan and updated Climate Action Plan. According to Gloria's office, the framework may include ways to use the arts to address societal challenges including climate and environment, gang prevention, the housing crisis, mobility and youth development. That planning process will involve "robust public engagement, to give residents direct input.

Gloria made the announcement Friday alongside Julie Baker, executive director of Californians for the Arts; California Arts Council member Vicki Estrada; City Council members; and San Diego arts community representatives.


"A world-class city has a world-class arts program that reflects and celebrates local culture," said Councilman Joe LaCava, who represents District 1.

Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell of District 2 said the city "must continue to advocate for these programs and initiatives that vastly improve the quality of life and economic prosperity of our city. I look forward to working with the mayor's office and Californians for the Arts as we kick off a new cultural planning initiative here in San Diego."

Councilmember Raul Campillo of District 7 said San Diego's creative economy "is critical to the success of our region."

"As chair of our City Council's Economic Development & Intergovernmental Relations Committee, I'm proud to champion Arts and Culture and to promote San Diego as a world-class destination for tourists, residents and workers alike."

Councilman Stephen Whitburn of District 3 said, "`The Creative City" will tie together San Diego's arts and culture community and ensure that it is a priority."

Estrada said that without the arts and without their respective culture, "The places we create would have no soul, no reason for being."

"Arts and culture allow us to share our values with each other, ask questions and to remind each other who we really are, thus providing a menu for the places we create," Estrada added.

Julie Baker said that San Diego is one of the state's leading arts and culture city, and home to one of California's 14 pilot cultural districts. "We are thrilled to kick off ACCM 2022 here and are grateful to the mayor, city councilmembers, San Diego artists, culture bearers and arts advocates for their work to increase investments in arts, culture and creativity," she added.

State Sen. Ben Hueso, a Democrat representing the 40th District, said the COVID-19 pandemic "had a disproportionately negative impact on the artists, both new and established, who have made our city arguably one of the largest holders of cultural assets in the nation." He added the city's initiative is important in the continuing support of artists, "as well as providing equity and inclusion for all San Diegans."