As a member of the San Diego Watercolor Society, I have seen our organization grow and thrive partly because of the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture funding that we have received for the past five years. Because of our involvement in this process of competing for funding, we have seen the need to expand our program from basically an artists society to a full-functioning community resource center. It was explained to us in the Arts and Culture meetings that introduced us to the process of competing that diversity in our community service was an important component to be addressed. We were introduced to excellent community service programs with diverse audiences. The commission stressed that the funding should reach the areas where arts and culture are not as easy to access.

With that in mind, we realized that we needed to incorporate a program for children’s art. We started by reaching out to Boys & Girls Clubs and other afterschool programs, sending willing artists to teach watercolor lessons to the children enrolled in these programs. Seeing that they had no equipment, our education team developed a program to take the art materials to the classes we taught and designed ten easy-to-follow lessons for their teacher to continue to teach, after seeing a lesson modeled. All of the art supplies were provided. The funding we received from the Commission for Arts and Culture has been used to continue this program for four years.

Now we are serving more schools, as art has been cut from many elementary school curriculums. We have also extended our program to teach at senior centers and have had wonderful results from the budding artists that attend these classes. The support we have received from being involved in the Arts and Culture funding has also helped our attractive gallery, free to the public, be one of the most visited galleries in the NTC redevelopment at Liberty Station.

The city’s support is vital to the smaller arts and cultural organizations as well as the larger ones. This funding has brought us together in support of the arts, and the commission has offered excellent workshops and informational meetings, reaching out to all organizations that are truly interested in serving the whole community. There is a united effort fort the arts and cultural organizations to grow and thrive, because of the funding process and the continual support from the commission. There are mayoral candidates who support the arts. As Bob Filner said at the nonprofit forum for mayoral candidates, “culture defines the city.”

Mary Ann Rogers is the co-development director of the San Diego Watercolor Society.

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Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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