Arts and culture people here are among the loudest proponents of change and innovation. What could keep San Diego from continuing the discoveries and innovations the region wants to be known for? I’m beginning a series of reporting about those hurdles, and I’d love to hear from you.

This is the next installment in our in-depth reporting series called “quest.” What do you want to know about what could stymie innovation in San Diego? Please share your questions and ideas for stories.

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

Happening Here

• The Unified Port of San Diego’s public art plan, about 1 percent of its annual budget, is slated to be cut by half, from $1.2 million to $600,000 next year, as the district deals with a budget gap. The district will also take $1.5 million from the art program’s surplus fund. Port tenants, who must contribute to the port’s art program when they build, will see some of that money go instead to the port’s general budget. (U-T San Diego)

KOGO took the story another step: “Here’s some of the crap they’re funding… and how much it costs…”

Last year, the port went against its art advisors’ recommendation when it approved a permanent, privately funded statue of a sailor kissing a nurse.

• A little over a year ago, the beloved figure who began building his colorful Salvation Mountain near the Salton Sea decades ago, Leonard Knight, entered a nursing home. KPBS’s Angela Carone and Katie Euphrat recently followed Knight back to his mountain. It was just the third time Knight, now in a wheelchair because of an amputated leg, has returned since he left.

• The guys from Ice Gallery, formerly in North Park, took over the space at Bread and Salt in Logan Heights for an show in February. (That’s the same venue where we held our “Meeting of the Minds” in March.) They’ve posted some excellent photographs of the artworks each of them created in the space.

• The Mingei Museum will be open for free admission next weekend, June 15 and 16, in honor of the museum’s 35th anniversary.

• The owner of The Trails Eatery on Jackson Drive, Stacey Poon-Kinney, is a contestant on the new season of Food Network Star. KPBS visits her restaurant and learns about her great-grandparents, who were both chefs.

• The artistic honchos at the biggest local theaters, The Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse, came up in theater in New York City in the 1980s, and now they’re leading San Diego institutions. When they grew up, everyone went to New York, they said. Now you can “straight-facedly say that people go to San Diego,” the Playhouse’s Christopher Ashley tells the U-T:

There’s an artistically satisfying life to be found, and increasingly a living to be made. You don’t have to go to L.A. or New York. It’s an exciting time in San Diego’s history.

• Choreographer John Malashock and a team of artists are workshopping a musical inspired by the work and life of Marc Chagall. You can see the show, in development, for free this weekend. One of the characters is played by a familiar face to VOSD, San Diego Symphony’s Nuvi Mehta. (La Jolla Light)

Buildings and Venues

• I love this collection of descriptions in the U-T of the treasures within the Central Library, like an index of stock prices across history, a copy of Harry Potter in Russian, archived newspaper clippings and first edition Dr. Seuss titles.

• The Eater San Diego blog reports the Little Italy jazz venue Anthology has been sold to L.A.-based Thaddeus Hunter Smith, who transformed the 1920s-era L.A. building The Music Box.

• Peek behind the scenes in this video of how artists put together several massive sculptures for the recently built County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa. Watch for the archival footage just before the five-minute mark — you can see the sculpture that stands in front of the County Administration Building downtown, unveiled 75 years earlier. (County News Center)

• Escondido’s iconic sculpture park is closing while city leaders grapple with vandalism and other damage. A spokesman for French artist Nikki de Saint Phalle, who created the sculptures, said none of the artist’s other public art pieces have been vandalized before. (U-T)

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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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