How many people are visiting Balboa Park museums now that the central Plaza de Panama has been cleared of parking spaces?

At least one museum reports the answer: A lot. The Timken Museum of Art, a free-admission museum founded nearly 50 years ago, saw its best month for attendance ever in July, U-T San Diego reported.

City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf had said last month the museums in the park were seeing drastic drops in visitors — constituting revenue losses of up to 20 percent. But she didn’t say then — nor later to the U-T — which institutions or who had called her office to complain about the loss of approximately 50 parking places in the plaza.

In other park news, soon the park’s central mesa will have expanded free Wi-Fi access. (CBS 8)

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

Local Roots

• An artist who lives in Ramona asked for help discerning the details of how her health plan could change in the coming months. Reporter Megan Burks filled in some details.

• A local real estate agent moonlights as an actor in community theater productions. “For me, there is no better moment, than when I am communicating a story to an audience, via the musical-theater genre. It is the time I feel closest to belonging in this world,” Danny Ingersoll told the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.

• Noted photographer and California Institute of the Arts professor Allan Sekula died last weekend after battling cancer. He took classes from John Baldessari while a student at UC San Diego. (Los Angeles Times)

• Cheese sculptor Sarah Kaufmann lives in San Diego but grew up in Wisconsin. She’s in Michigan to carve her dairy-based specialty for that state’s fair. Reports the Daily Press in Escanaba, Michigan:

“It’s soft. It’s better on the old muscles than wood or stone or some of those other tougher materials. And if you get hungry you have a snack,” said Kaufmann of working in cheese.

• San Diego-based UltraStar Cinemas plans to build more than 40 movie theaters in China. (LAT)

• UCSD arts programming powerhouse Marty Wolleson is leaving for a similar post in Maryland after nearly 10 years at the university. (U-T)

Happening Here

• A museum that shows artwork by local and regional artists, the San Diego Art Institute, has a new chief after more than 15 years under Timothy Field. A museum statement didn’t say why the leadership switch happened. (U-T)

• Big Kitchen Cafe, a South Park staple, is hosting a series of sci-fi-inspired performances on Thursday and Friday evenings this month. Watch out if you go, writes KPBS’ Beth Accomando: “Attendees may also have a hard time distinguishing the wait staff from the performers since characters in the play might be refilling their coffee cups.”

• The celebration of retro Tiki style, the “Comic-Con of Tiki,” took over a Mission Valley conference center for the eighth straight year last weekend. (U-T)

• A recent run-in with the police in Ocean Beach sent jewelry craftsman David Millette to meet with Bob Filner for special permission to hawk his wares. For CityBeat, Kinsee Morlan assesses the landscape for busking in local hotspots.

In Balboa Park—the most sought-after location for buskers—performers are required to get a permit through a lottery system. At 10 a.m. every first Saturday of the month, a large crowd of buskers lines up outside the Balboa Park Administration Building. A park ranger hands out small wooden cubes with numbers scrawled on them and, via random drawing, slowly doles out 10 permits for musicians, 10 permits for performers (balloon artists, fortune tellers, etc.) and five for show acts, like magicians, jugglers and dancers.

Photo by Sam Hodgson
Photo by Sam Hodgson

• A 1989 mural depicting orcas at the Plunge in Mission Beach by artist Wyland may be partially destroyed, with the OK of the California Coastal Commission, in upcoming renovations to the Belmont Park attraction. (U-T)

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

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