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Inocente Izucar, a local teenager, appeared onstage during Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremonies when a film about her life won for best documentary short. (Entertainment Weekly)

Izucar is an artist who was homeless for much of her childhood. She found art at a local nonprofit for troubled youth called ARTS: A Reason to Survive. Through ARTS, filmmakers Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine followed her life for two years. In his acceptance speech, Sean Fine urged the audience to think about what they might be able to do to bring more art to communities.

Later, Fine said other actors thanked him for making that connection. He told Entertainment Weekly:

It’s great to support the arts when it’s at the Oscar level, but what about when it’s at the junior-high level or below. Or the high-school level. The artists wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for great teachers and support. And that’s dying in our country. From the reaction we got, all the stars know that too.

Matt D’Arrigo, founder of ARTS, told U-T San Diego that Izucar was “exactly the kind of person” he had in mind when he started the nonprofit.

“It shows the power of art and the power of mentorship,” he said. “Art is where you can let your secrets out. All of the kids carry their own struggles, and there is this unsaid feeling of acceptance and peer support.”

The film was also the first Kickstarter-funded film to win an Oscar. (Los Angeles Times)

If you needed another endorsement, consider one from People magazine: “This girl will knock your socks off.”

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

Hurdles and Controversy

• The “Today” show highlighted the aesthetic battle over the giant “kiss” statue that recently made its permanent home on San Diego’s waterfront. It’s hard to argue with the adorable senior citizens who appear in the segment renewing their marriage vows by the statue. But NBC reporter Kristen Dahlgren did note that a few of the Unified Port of San Diego’s public art advisers resigned over the sculpture. She also talked to perhaps the statue’s loudest critic.

The ultimate in bad taste,” former U-T art critic Bob Pincus told “Today.”

• Speaking of the port and waterfront art, the agency is looking for artist proposals for new temporary artworks on the waterfront. Three artists or teams will each get a $20,000 budget to make their art.

• This time, the “conflict, disruption and dysfunction” isn’t happening on stage at the Birch North Park Theatre — it’s happening behind the scenes, as part of the “oft melodramatic” bankruptcy process the theater’s been in for more than a year. The man who owns the West Coast Tavern in the theater wants to take over the building and wipe out Lyric Opera, the musical theater company that bought the theater in 2005. (U-T)

I looked at what the bankruptcy might mean for North Park in a TV story in 2011.

Local Ties

• Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum chose a key member of San Diego Museum of Art’s curatorial team for its new director. Julia Marciari-Alexander is moving to take the helm there. (Baltimore Sun)

Her husband, John Marciari, is also a San Diego Museum of Art curator and will continue to do some work for the museum from afar. “I’m not breaking all ties,” he told ArtInfo.

The museum is looking for Marciari-Alexander’s replacement. (U-T)

• The designer behind Sunday’s Academy Awards stage has created stage designs for four La Jolla Playhouse productions. (U-T)

• Escondido artist Kelly Vivanco paints “fantastical and haunting” characters with pronounced eyes, including one piece on display as part of a group show at Subtext Gallery in Little Italy. (CityBeat)

Happening Here

• A nondescript Vista warehouse trains future baristas and coffee shop owners in its weeklong better-coffee courses. (San Diego Magazine)

• A real estate agent used salsa dancing to relieve her own stress — then started classes and camps for students at the Monarch School for homeless kids. (U-T)

• A team from the San Diego Maritime Museum is two years into the process of building a replica of the first ship to touch land in San Diego — the 1542 voyage by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo on the ship San Salvador. (KPBS)

• An L.A. firm called Autonomy is working on plans for the Balboa Park 2015 celebration, including four mega “seasonal spectaculars.” (U-T)

• Can you sing the word “smutched”? Local chorister Libby Weber takes us into a rehearsal for the San Diego Master Chorale in her inaugural post for our new “Active Voice” blog. Weber will be blogging about arts.

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I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531.

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Kelly Bennett

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

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