Arts and culture groups have enjoyed a foothold in county politics because of county Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, who’s leaving office after 20 years. She has directed more than $10 million of county money to arts and culture organizations during her time in office. But she’s not running for reelection, leaving her seat up for grabs in November.

As our story details, her support over the years has earned her special standing in the culture community, but has also drawn criticism from people who saw the setup as a way to curry favor. While she serves the last months of her term, the arts community is looking for a new champion. The two candidates angling for her seat are now defining their stances on the discretionary grant program Slater-Price has used to steer so much money to the arts — one wants to kill the program entirely.


Meanwhile, another elected official known for championing arts is stepping down this year. Mayor Jerry Sanders frequently stands up for arts and culture, trumpeting the sector’s jobs and economic footprint. Both candidates for the city’s top post say they support the city’s arts funding from hotel-room taxes, but draw distinct approaches:

Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio emphasizes what he calls “return-on-investment” and the economic power the arts have in San Diego. His challenger, Bob Filner, acknowledges that power but says the arts should be supported for their own sake, not just as an economic formula.

You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.

Cleaning House

• The embattled Center for the Arts in Escondido sustained another blow this week: Its former finance director told the North County Times she was fired earlier this year when she wouldn’t “cover up gross financial mismanagement” at the center, an allegation denied the center’s current officials denied. (NCT)

From reporter David Garrick’s story:

”Last fall, city officials hired forensic accountants to investigate whether the center might have lost as much as $200,000 more than had been reported during the previous two years. The results of that investigation have never been revealed.”

• A 70,000-pound house cantilevered from the seventh story of UC San Diego’s engineering school is the 18th piece in the university’s Stuart Collection of art. I dizzily stepped inside the house, artist Do Ho Suh’s “Fallen Star” last week. The piece is open to visitors from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and by appointment.

Would you go if we set up a Voice of San Diego field trip? Drop me a line and let me know.


• Alma Rodriguez’s vision converted a historic North Park lumber building-turned-99-cent-store into a performance and art gallery space called Queen Bee’s that now houses “Zumba fitness classes, salsa dancing, steampunk bands, youth programs, masquerade balls” and more. (U-T)

• The New York Times’ theater critic Charles Isherwood calls The Old Globe’s “Nobody Loves You,” the satirical look at reality TV, “a delightful chamber musical.”

And up the road, Isherwood appears to have enjoyed watching the La Jolla Playhouse’s current “Hands on a Hardbody.” He drew special attention to the facet that stood out most to me, as well:

He writes: “The show strikes a fresh, topical note for American musical theater by training a compassionate eye on the struggles of the lower-middle classes. … Its characters are drawn with insight, sympathy and a refreshing lack of condescension.”

• The Tony Awards showed the Playhouse some love, awarding five prestigious honors to the Playhouse-originated “Peter and the Starcatcher” in Sunday’s ceremony. North County native and UC San Diego alum Paloma Young won for best costumes. The U-T’s theater critic James Hebert was in New York for the awards and filmed a video interview backstage at ‘Starcatcher’ with Young. (U-T San Diego)

Happening Here

• A national study said arts organizations in San Diego County are responsible for more than 20,000 jobs and $665 million in economic activity — both what the organizations spend and what their audiences spend on dinner before a show, for example. (U-T)

Angela Carone pulled another interesting nugget out of the study:

“When compared to many cities and regions of comparable size, San Diego’s arts industry spends far more. … For example, the city of Phoenix is slightly bigger than San Diego, but our arts industry spends almost twice as much.”


• Think of the difference between the way a cello sounds and a trumpet, playing the same note. Even at the same length, pitch and volume, the notes sound different. But what words do you use? The trumpet sounds more … trumpety?

The concept — timbre — was the center of a recent discussion and performance hosted by Mainly Mozart, where noted neuroscientist Ani Patel teamed up with cellist Ronald Thomas. We’ve been interested for a long time in the intersections of music and the brain. Here’s a guide to our coverage of local research into how our brains process music.

• Artists Vincent Robles and Deanne Sabeck were noted as “emerging artists” in the San Diego Art Prize for this year. An eclectic show of their work and a handful of other promising, interesting artists is up at the Susan Street Fine Art Gallery in Solana Beach for a few more weeks. (U-T)

• The annual contemporary music festival “soundON” opens this weekend at the Athenaeum in La Jolla.

• The perplexing plays of influential British playwright Harold Pinter don’t show up on local stages very often, but North Coast Rep has two right now, and Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout said the theater is “doing them extremely well” in Solana Beach. (WSJ)

• Local sculptor, designer and architect Chris Puzio is the focus of this gorgeous documentary feature by local filmmaker and photographer Charles Bergquist, shot over more than a year in Puzio’s studio. (Sezio)

Pay special attention halfway through to my favorite moment in the piece, as Puzio delivers a giant piece, nestled on a flatbed truck, to the County Medical Examiner’s office.

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Kelly Bennett is the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach her directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with her on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.

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

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