County supervisors vote to restore long-lost artistic entity

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In 1993, San Diego County abolished its County Arts Commission. Thanks to the work of the lawyers and a unanimous vote of the Departmental Supervisory Council, he is on the way back.

In 1993, San Diego County abolished its County Arts Commission. Thanks to the work of lawyers and a unanimous vote of the departmental supervisory board, it is on … Continue reading →

Issued: August 26, 2021 |

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Earlier this month, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to explore reinstatement of the long-defunct County Arts and Culture Board. Supervisors Nora Vargas and Nathan Fletcher brought the proposal to the board, although it is a project that many advocates in the arts community have been pushing for years.

When the old commission, the Public Arts Advisory Council, was closed in the early 1990s, San Diego became the largest county in the state without an arts entity.

“It was another time, another board of directors. And what happens sometimes is when counties face challenges, they make decisions and the arts seem to suffer,” Supervisor Vargas said. on KPBS Midday Edition. “As a board of directors, we are very determined to really energize this piece of history which I believe is so important to our communities. And, as you know, the arts and culture are integral to stimulating our economy. And really, this creative and innovative approach, I think, is what we need for our community. I am therefore delighted that we have unanimously adopted this letter from the Board of Directors. “

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Vargas said it was a need she had heard resonate throughout the county, especially during the election campaign, advocating for a single, regional and united voice for arts and culture.

“Ever since the county took down the Public Arts Advisory Board, I think it was 1993, I think there was a void and a lack of opportunity for a lot of amazing local artists to really have opportunities. here in the region, ”Vargas said.

Dozens of artists and arts workers filed public comments in advance.

Patricia Frischer, who coordinates the San Diego Visual Arts Network, compiled all of the public comments in this blog entry.

At the August 17 supervisory board meeting, several members called or showed up to present their case in person, such as Michael Angelo Camacho, executive director of the VAPA Foundation in the San Diego United School District.

“Coming from a poor farming village and growing up in a low income community, I can say that children like me need arts education in our public schools and communities as it gives us safe ways to play and provides a healthy coping mechanism to deal with all kinds of shaky situations. But more importantly, it inspires us to aspire for more. And I think San Diego needs a county-level art and culture commission, because having an advocate at that level will allocate resources in a strategic, coherent and powerful manner, ”Camacho told the speaker. board of directors.

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Vargas said she has had many similar conversations and added that regional arts organizations are working in this direction.

“Over and over I have heard from [arts and culture community leaders] and that’s what they were asking for. And they had actually worked… together to identify how we can really come together to make sure we’re actually moving forward with an arts council for San Diego County, ”Vargas said.

The upcoming process begins with the County Administrative Director, who will take 90 days to assess the county’s role in the region’s artistic and cultural landscape, including how grants and awards are distributed.

“Where have we invested in the past? We also want to make sure that we identify opportunities to leverage state and federal funding,” Vargas said.

The name of the proposal referenced in the letter from the board was to “reimagine vibrant communities through arts and culture,” which Vargas said underscores the central role that equity will play in the building process. of the new artistic entity.

“When we receive our report in 90 days, we are really looking at how to increase equity and access to arts and culture in the region and really capitalize on the economic potential of an increased arts and culture program. culture across the county for It’s not just about tossing the word equity, but about truly embedding equity in everything we do, including the arts and culture, because we know the arts can change society. life of a young person, ”said Vargas.

After the initial assessment and study of how the money is spent on the arts, the county will then work to recreate the council.

“My goal is that we actually have an arts and culture office in San Diego County,” Vargas said.

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The council will then build partnerships – also including the border region and the binational community – and work on equitable funding systems.

Vargas said this council will operate separately from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture – primarily by providing access to funding to the wider swathes of the county’s geography.

“We’re talking about all the different towns in the county that need to have access to these resources and opportunities, and they don’t necessarily have to compete. It’s a regional approach to really look at how the arts can be funded. the in a good way as we go along. “

Photo by Julia Dixon Evans

Julia dixon evans

Publisher and producer of the arts calendar

opening quotesclosing quotesI write the weekly KPBS Arts newsletter and edit and produce the KPBS Arts calendar. I am interested in involving the people of San Diego in the diversity of art and culture created by the creators who live here.

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