Artists petition for Black Arts and Culture District in Encanto
Speaker 1: (00:00)
A nondescript stretch of Imperial avenue in San Diego's and Canto neighborhood could host a black arts district to support culture and community in the area. The hope is that the formal establishment of the city's first black arts and culture district could bring resources and revitalization to a long ignored neighborhood. San Diego journalists, Andrea Lopez via Fanya joins us now with more. Andrea. Welcome. Hi, how's
Speaker 2: (00:25)
Speaker 1: (00:26)
Good. Good. Thanks. So can you start off by setting the stage for us here? What is it about this part of the city that would make it a good home for a black arts district?
Speaker 2: (00:36)
Yeah, so this area is really interesting. I mean, you have a trolley line that runs right through it. You have a lot of black owned businesses. Um, it has a long history of well-known leaders that kind of, you know, worked or, um, advocated it's in some form there in that neighborhood. It was also home to the Encanto street fair, which brought a lot of black artists, um, musicians, a lot of community resources for the neighborhood. So yeah, it's always been kind of like a central area of that district district for the city of San Diego.
Speaker 1: (01:09)
Who's behind this effort to officially recognize the area as a black arts district.
Speaker 2: (01:14)
Yeah. So a couple of people, a lot of people have been trying to get this area recognized, or at least some attention there's a park in the area that has been neglected a lot of the businesses that used to be there Bandon now. So, um, one, one person in particular, that's kind of leading this movement now. Uh, her name is Kimberly Phillips P and she's a local artist. She's with the Southeast art team, a, a group of artists in Southeastern San Diego. And, uh, she's really pushing for this. She put together an online petition, um, and she's just kind of, you know, advocating, she organized a tour to really bring attention to the area.
Speaker 1: (01:53)
And what are people from within the community saying about establishing an official district in the area?
Speaker 2: (01:59)
Yeah, so people are excited. I mean, it's interesting because, you know, often you live in a, in an area and you might not know all the history about it. So, uh, some of the residents actually spoke with who went on the tour were a little surprised by things that they didn't know about their own neighborhood that they grew up there, but, you know, they didn't know so-and-so had come from there or an artist had established something there. And, uh, so I think people are excited. I mean, mainly there's a lot of great community activists that, you know, people know in the neighborhood, but their stories aren't really preserved anywhere. So they're really hoping that through this black arts district, they can preserve the voices of black leaders in that area. And hopefully, you know, bring some more attention to that area.
Speaker 1: (02:42)
It is official recognition of an area as an arts district entail. Does that unlock certain funds or resources for the area?
Speaker 2: (02:50)
Yeah. So there are different ways to go about it. I mean, w one of the most official ways is to become a cultural district with the state. Uh, we have two here in San Diego, a bubble park is one of them and Barrio Logan is also one of them, but that's a really long process. I know, um, city Heights was trying to do one in one section of that neighborhood. Uh, and the other way is for the city council basically to draft a resolution and say, this is a cultural arts district, which they've done before. Um, and, and it allows for two things. I mean, it allows for people in that district to market that area that way. Uh, so you can bring more businesses, more attention. Uh, sometimes there are some grants available, but really it's just, you know, a lot of opportunity for marketing and really being able to shape what that area looks like.
Speaker 1: (03:41)
Are there other state designated cultural districts in the city?
Speaker 2: (03:45)
There is that boat park and, um, Barrio Logan, but that's it, it's just those two. So, um, it's a big deal to be a cultural district and it's a long process. So, um, I think if, if they went through with something like that, that would be super interesting. None of the state's cultural districts are black, like black arts and cultural districts. So this would have, this would be the first of if they could make it all the way to the state.
Speaker 1: (04:09)
The organizer behind this effort says that in Canto has long been ignored. How so?
Speaker 2: (04:15)
A lot of lack of resources, um, a lot of those buildings and businesses there, uh, some properties are owned by the city. Some are not, and they've kind of just, you know, gone to waste. Uh, the best example is are these, um, art panels that were installed a long time ago by an artist, and they're kind of just falling apart. And, um, you know, the park I mentioned earlier that the bathrooms don't always work and it's just, you know, it's not taking care of. So a lot of community members have just, Kim has led a lot of efforts to paint murals in that area to beautify it. But, but yeah, there's just, there, hasn't been a lot of money going into that area to, to care for it.
Speaker 1: (04:57)
And you mentioned this and write that in past decades, this neighborhood used to be a prominent hub for black arts and culture. What happened?
Speaker 2: (05:05)
Yeah. So there used to be the Encanto street fair and, um, that was organized by a lot of advocates and slowly I think that, you know, they couldn't organize it anymore. I think, uh, the recession had part to do with that and, you know, a group tried to pick it up, but it didn't really get picked up and didn't have the resources that it needed for it to come together. So it just, it just eventually disappeared. And a lot of people really loved that fair. I mean, it was, it was a big fair, and it was, uh, important to, to highlight, um, black residents in San Diego.
Speaker 1: (05:42)
Uh, since then there's been a sort of grassroots effort to beautify the neighborhood with murals, painted utility boxes and other kinds of public art. Can you tell us about this neighborhood as a center for art?
Speaker 2: (05:54)
Mainly it it's. Um, the, but also there are, um, a couple of centers there, uh, that offer a lot of, uh, community activities like, uh, amend circle, lots of, you know, aside from what you basically think of when you think of an arts and culture district, right. You think like galleries, uh, you think dance. So, um, there are a couple areas and couple of activities there where people organize these kinds of like events focused on arts and focused on music and, and community. So part, part of the arts district would be to draw in maybe like an art gallery or maybe like a center for music for kids.
Speaker 1: (06:35)
And where does official recognition of the neighborhood stand now? Is there any sense that this will be adopted by the city council or maybe the mayor's office?
Speaker 2: (06:43)
Yeah, so, um, Monica Montgomery, um, is supportive then the mayor's office also told me that they would be supportive of a district. Uh, so right now the city is basically working on the language for such a resolution, how to describe the area best, and they're really relying on community members to make sure they get that right. Uh, so, so once that's settled, hopefully we can see something come to city council and supported by everyone.
Speaker 1: (07:09)
And is there any timetable for when a formal establishment of this district could be?
Speaker 2: (07:14)
No, not yet, but I know, um, you know, Kimberly's really excited. She has big, big plans for it. I mean, she wants to see something like you could have tours with, with bikes that go through the neighborhood. And, you know, I, I think the vision for what the area could be as beautiful and very, uh, big, but it's going to take some time.
Speaker 1: (07:34)
I've been speaking with San Diego journalist, Andrea Lopez via Fanya, and you can read this story and the San Diego union Tribune. Andrea, thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker 2: (07:45)
Thank you for having me.
A nondescript stretch of Imperial Avenue in San Diego’s Encanto neighborhood could host a Black arts district to support culture and community in the area.
It's the hope of local artists and community organizers that a formal establishment of the city’s first Black Arts and Culture District could bring resources and revitalization to a long-ignored neighborhood.
Currently, only two other such state-designated cultural districts exist in San Diego: Balboa Park and Barrio Logan. It would be the first Black Arts and Culture District in the state if approved.
While the prospective effort has support from Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilmember Monica Montgomery, who represents the area, no timetable for official recognition of the district has been set.