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$1.25 Million In Funding For San Diego Arts Relief Programs

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San Diego Practice and Park Social will provide $1 million to fund and share public art from San Diego artists, plus $250,000 in nonprofit grants will support arts organizations

Speaker 1: 00:00 Arts and culture groups in San Diego or among the enterprise is taking huge financial hits due to the Corona virus pandemic in April. Mayor Kevin Faulkner announced drastic budget cuts slashing the commission for arts and cultures, grant funding by 50% that's why an announcement by Faulkner this week of a million dollars in funding for two new arts programs was such welcome news. Joining me to discuss the new initiatives is Jonathan gloss, executive director of the San Diego commission for arts and culture. Welcome to midday edition.

Speaker 2: 00:32 Good morning. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 1: 00:35 We'll start with a situation facing San Diego, arts and culture groups and art in our community. How dire are things right now because of the health crisis and why do you see this as an inflection point?

Speaker 2: 00:47 Are arts organizations have shuttered their doors? They've been close for a few months now, which means that the organizations are losing daily door fees. They are losing the opportunity to raise funds through special events, facility use, et cetera, so their income has been severely depleted. In addition to that, public doesn't have access to these very important assets in our community. It's, it's no coincidence that we've all gone virtual and we're watching theater on zoom now and we're listening to musicians every evening. Art and culture has become such a vital lifeline, uh, through the pandemic. Uh, so as you can imagine, it's also incredibly frustrating for those in the arts community to not be able to access audiences the way that they usually can.

Speaker 1: 01:51 So it's very difficult for individual artists as well then.

Speaker 2: 01:55 So in the case of individual artists, this is an inflection point and this is why we felt this was so important to prioritize this stimulus initiative right now. You know, artists, regardless of where they are in their career, they really live and work in a gig economy. They teach in our public and private schools. They teach at our universities, they work at our arts and cultural organizations, either providing artistic expertise or um, working in public facing programs. Uh, they also work in the service economy. So, you know, in one fell swoop, literally their portfolio of resources dried up for them. So in the same way that our small businesses and individual entrepreneurs had literally a door closed on them. The same thing has happened to our individual artists. So felt like this was the time to prioritize artists in the way that the city is responding to covet.

Speaker 2: 03:08 Tell us about the two new programs, the commission for arts and culture. We'll manage first. What's the focus behind the SD practice in parks social programs? What's exciting about these projects is they are also a point of inflection in the way that the commission for arts and culture on behalf of the city is investing in our community. The scale and the scope of these projects are of something we have not been able to achieve in the past. So in the case of SD practice, we will be spending $500,000 to acquire artwork from San Diego artists that is going to allow us to augment our city's collection in a huge way. And that's important for two different reasons. One is because the city's collection is throughout the city. It's in public buildings, in every city council district. It's in public buildings where our visitors experience San Diego and it's also in public buildings that San Diego residents interface with government and citizens.

Speaker 2: 04:23 But we have an opportunity here to make sure that our collection also is reflecting the cultural and ethnic diversity of our city. So in addition to making sure that our collection is of the very highest quality and that it truly does reflect San Diego, it also is going to reflect the broad international sensibility of San Diego artists. So we have a great opportunity here through SD practice, through park social. This is an opportunity for artists to welcome back, um, San Diego tins and our visitors into our parks. We're very excited about this project. These are temporary projects. We'll have about 18 of them in parks throughout the city. Individual artists and artists teams will be invited to do temporary projects. They will choose this site. They will also be asked to work with the community to respond to the site. So just to give you an example, you may visit a beach, a trail, a major park, a parklet in a neighborhood, and you'll happen upon this piece.

Speaker 2: 05:46 This installation by San Diego artists know the SD practice program that seems to have roots dating back to the works progress administration during the great depression of the 1930s right? It does. And this is such an important question. Thank you for asking it. Our collection, the city's collection is, is more than 600 pieces large and that the collection has pieces dating back to the early 20th century. But the real foundation of the collection is based in WP era artworks. And as you know, Mark, the WPA was a national initiative during the great depression to provide opportunities and work for artists of all disciplines during the depression. So it's really important now that SD practice continues that legacy. We still enjoy WPA era artwork here in San Diego. Our intent is that SD practice will continue and build on that so that in 50 and a hundred years, residents and visitors from across the world will see artwork that we've acquired during this period of time.

Speaker 2: 07:03 And not only will it reflect the very best of San Diego, but it also really shows the values of our community, that artists are part of our workforce. But our artists also convey our, our history and culture. Uh, where's the funding coming from for these projects? Three different funding sources. The generosity of two estates. One is anonymous and the other one is the estate of Thomas. Oh, rest. Mucin mr rest mucin was an avid collector and a contemporary artist. He was very committed to San Diego artists. So when he left funding to the city, he identified investing in individual artists. In the 30 is we've repurposed some private developer fees. So what that means is when a major multi-use building is being built in San Diego, the developer has an obligation to direct a small portion of, of the project budget to either acquiring artwork to be on the site or to direct it to our public art fund. So we've repurposed some of those developer fees and very quickly to fund parks social. And how are they artists chosen in the works commissioned. So we have a very public process. A panel is selected, are invited, I should say. And then artists submit qualifications. So we're not asking for proposals, we're being very respectful of artist's time. The panel then reviews the past work of the artists and make recommendations for direct invitation after that.

Speaker 1: 09:00 And what's the reaction been so far from the artists and from the art groups regarding these initiatives?

Speaker 2: 09:06 Well, as you can imagine, Mark, we've had a tremendously positive response already. The city traditionally has done a very, very, very good job at recognizing and investing in our arts and culture organizations. And we will always do that. But San Diego as the city, as a community really has an opportunity to up our game in the way that we think about artists and creatives in our city. We have to compete for talent in San Diego, in creative industries, just like the tech world for example. And we are very committed to continuing to provide opportunities for them to not just build their careers here, but also to be part of our community.

Speaker 1: 10:01 And last question, what's the timetable to get these arts projects going?

Speaker 2: 10:06 Well as expeditiously as we can, understanding public process, we have announced the SD practice, so artists will be able to submit qualifications over the coming few weeks, and then park social will be announced within just the next two weeks or so. So we'll start to see the artwork rollout, um, as early as the fall.

Speaker 1: 10:32 Well, it's exciting and a welcome news in these times for certain. I've been speaking with Jonathan gloss, executive director of the San Diego commission for arts and culture. Thanks very much.

Speaker 2: 10:43 Thank you, Mark. Thank you for having me.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.