There’s a movement known as “creative placemaking” that has grown exponentially in San Diego in the last decade, though it feels like we see the fruits of this practice lately more than ever. It involves using the power of arts, culture and creativity to create a space or event that serves individuals and communities in a way that drives positive change, civic pride and cultural growth. It’s not unlike another concept called “tactical urbanism,” which Andrew Keatts has written about – both are about activating spaces in unique ways, and in doing so activating the people who congregate there. This is how parklets became a thing.

Balboa Park is already a space dedicated to arts and culture, and as the park celebrates its big 100-year anniversary of 1915 Panama-California Exposition, we are hearing about interesting ways to interact with the space. Enter Make Music Day San Diego.

The musical congregation, which began in France in 1982, happens in 700 cities around the world. This is the first year San Diego is among them. On June 21, 20 spaces throughout Balboa Park will host upwards of 40 free, interactive, participatory musical performances and workshops (full schedule can be found here).

Organizer Andy Horwitz said the event is a chance to bring more culture-enhancing programming to the city at no cost to residents or lucky tourists who happen to be wandering the park that day. For Make Music Day, anyone can bring an instrument to the park and take part in an open guitar jam session, a fiddle workshop from one of the world’s leading fiddlers, Mari Black, hit up the instrument petting zoo or experience a “bluegrass slow jam.”

“This is about giving people a chance to meet each other and to also to demonstrate in microcosm the enormous cultural richness of the city,” said Horwitz. “San Diego should be just as good for residents as it is for tourism. In fact, if it’s good for residents it’s good for tourists.”

Make Music Day in Balboa Park happens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad is also hosting a Make Music Day event, in case any of you North County folks would like to participate closer to home.

You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.

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Alex Zaragoza is a freelance writer covering arts and culture in San Diego and Tijuana. She also writes the column "There She Goz" for San Diego CityBeat,...

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