Janica Smith is one of the best ballerinas in San Diego County and, at age 24, in her prime dancing years. Still, her 28-week contract with City Ballet of San Diego pays just $17,000 (and 13 pairs of pointe shoes). To supplement that, she heads up after rehearsal to Encinitas Ale House, where she waits tables and serves beer. She earns about as much doing that per year as she does dancing. Our story by Valerie Scher follows her in a typical day from rehearsal in Pacific Beach for her roles in The Nutcracker, home for a snack, and then to the bar.

The balancing act is certainly not limited to dancers. The Union-Tribune’s Jim Hebert wrote a great story this week looking at local stage actors and the ways they have (or haven’t yet) found to sustain a career here. Such as John Padilla, who’s performed at Ion Theatre and who “recently founded his own plumbing company.”

The story also delves into a couple of huge topics in the theater community: Whether a theater can or will pay actors the rate charged by the Actors’ Equity union, and how often the county’s big theaters hire local actors.

Rounding out this exploration of artists making a living in San Diego, our latest post from blogger Dani Dodge introduces us to local painter Dan Adams, who works for San Diego Unified School District as a delivery driver during the day, then paints after he gets off at 3 p.m.

“I would never let the job get in the way of my art,” he said. “But because of the job, I don’t have to sell.” (See more photos of Adams in Sam Hodgson’s post.)

Money talks:

• Local arts leaders are on a mission to illuminate the benefits they see in the city’s funding for arts and culture. (That’s the program one city councilman has proposed cutting in his financial plan.) A couple of those leaders were on KPBS’s These Days show last week to talk about the city’s program.

• Some of those arts leaders will be at a town hall meeting tonight at NTC Command Center from 6 p.m. onward to discuss Councilman Carl DeMaio’s plan. The NTC Foundation’s director sent an email out to arts groups encouraging them to send representatives to the meeting. I’ll be there, so I’ll keep you posted.

• Separately, the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture landed a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts last week. (And that same story breaks the news that Lamb’s Player’s Theatre, the county’s third-largest theater, laid off five staff members last week.) (U-T)

Arts schoolin’:

• Local high school students explore complicated mathematic concepts through film, photos, sound and interactive pieces in Friday’s Behind the Scene TV segment. They’ll be showing their work in a one-night exhibition at Sushi in East Village on Thursday night.


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• ‘Can you teach creativity’? Lux Art Institute founder Reesey Shaw says in a commentary in the U-T: “I believe we can — and must.

• Two local artists at Mesa College made a temporary art shed in which artists can find space to create. CityBeat’s asked them a few questions about their project.

“It is completely possible to live, work and function as an artist in a 4x8x10 space,” asserts one of the artists, Kevin Kao.

On the shelves:

• A whole library dedicated to photography books in San Diego? I had no idea. U-T blogger Joe Nalven takes us inside the library at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

• A dozen county theaters (and more than 100 nominees) will vie for recognition in the upcoming San Diego Theatre Critics Circle awards, the ninth annual contest (named for local theater forefather Craig Noel) the group has hosted.

Legends lost:

• James Moody, a saxophone legend who lived in San Diego since 1989, passed away last week. The U-T’s George Varga wove a story of tributes and tidbits from around the jazz community, like a surprise duet Moody played with Aretha Franklin onstage at Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay in 2005. KPBS dug up this video from a decade ago of Moody playing on their TV station. The New York Times highlighted some of Moody’s “silly jokes” and his self-effacing nature.

• The tributes poured in this week for local actor Sandra Ellis-Troy, who passed away last weekend. Behind the Scene contributor Jenni Prisk recalled playing Kate to Ellis-Troy’s Petruchio, the male lead in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, last year. The North County Times’ Cigi Ross wrote an obituary highlighting her career.

Precious images: In the age of social media, most of us see a ton of photographs. Multiply that by a lot and you can see why local freelance photographer Will Parson says it’s easy for him to lose the sentimental connection to photographs.

So when Parson volunteered last weekend on a project called Help-Portrait, he found it striking how many families didn’t have portraits of themselves. He shot and wrote this post about his experience.

“Perhaps the story of the day belonged to one woman, who explained to a volunteer that she had never had portraits taken of her three children,” Parson wrote, “even though her oldest son is 15 years old.”

I’m the arts editor at VOSD. You can contact me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531 and follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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