Both candidates in the District 3 race for the County Board of Supervisors say they’ll be strong advocates for the arts, but they differ when it comes to approach.
Supervisor Dave Roberts, the incumbent, and Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar are facing off to represent the district that includes coastal communities like Solana Beach, Del Mar and Encinitas, plus Escondido and San Diego.
The biggest county resources available to local arts and culture organizations are the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program and the Community Enhancement Program, two grant opportunities that provide millions of dollars of funding to area nonprofits every year.
Both pots of money have been criticized as slush funds that county supervisors use to boost personal pet projects. That criticism stems from the wide discretion supervisors have in deciding who gets money every year.
In response to those concerns, one of the first things Roberts did when he took office in 2013 was to form a review panel made up of elected officials from District 3. The panel reviews applications for the Community Enhancement grant, and makes recommendations to Roberts.
“I believe this process promotes transparency and community participation, and I will continue to use this panel moving forward,” Roberts wrote via email.
Gaspar said if she’s elected, nonprofits will apply through the traditional process, but she said she’s open to creating an extra layer of oversight through a committee similar to Roberts’.
“Key to any grant process in my office will be the development of a rubric/decision-making matrix to objectively evaluate request,” she wrote in an email.
To get funding from the two pots of money controlled by county supervisors, arts and culture organizations are pitted against other nonprofits, including those serving veterans, the homeless and foster kids. It can be difficult for arts organizations – often viewed as offering mostly entertainment value – to compete against those viewed as providing crucial services.
Local arts leaders have long advocated for a countywide arts council that could ensure money from the the two programs is earmarked for the arts, and provide marketing, promotional and other types of support.
San Diego County is the only largely populated county in California that does not have an arts council, and thousands of dollars of available state funding for an arts council designated by county supervisors is left on the table every year.
Gaspar said she’s open to a conversation about a council, but she doesn’t think using money from the county’s two grant programs is the way to fund it.
“There may be a creative way to develop a countywide arts council without having to reallocate funding to do so,” she said.
Roberts wouldn’t say whether he supports a council. Instead, he said his office has funded and been working with the North County Arts Network, or NCAN, a grassroots effort led by arts organizations in Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Marcos and other communities in northern San Diego County. The group is already doing some of the work a countywide arts council would do, Roberts said.
“NCAN is serving as a catalyst for helping to fulfill our vision for a flourishing arts community throughout North San Diego County,” he said.
Roberts may indirectly be supporting the creation of a council, though, since North County Arts Network sees itself as a sort of pilot program for getting other similar groups up and running across San Diego County. Patricia Frischer, an active member of the North County Arts Network, said once those kind of groups exist in east, south and central San Diego County, they could band together and eventually be designated as an official council.
“The San Diego County arts council is not dead in the water,” Frischer said. “It’s actually got a solid plan now to move forward.”
Last year, the California Legislature approved the establishment of “cultural districts” throughout the state. The program is just getting off the ground, but eventually it could mean extra state-level support and recognition for some of San Diego’s artsiest neighborhoods.
Gaspar and Roberts said they’re aware of the new program and both said they would collaborate with city leaders to figure out which neighborhoods might be the best candidates.
Gaspar said she’d meet with leaders from across the district before focusing on any specific neighborhoods, and Roberts said he thinks Escondido and Encinitas are strong cultural district contenders. In Encinitas, Roberts said he’s particularly excited about a community-led effort to transform an old elementary school into an arts hub.
Drought-Themed Music, La Jolla Yard Art Drama Continues and More Arts and Culture News
• “The Night My Mother Was Murdered” and other stories from southeastern San Diego writers are featured in the new book,”Reclaiming Our Stories,” printed by San Diego City Works Press. A book release party is happening Friday, Oct. 28, at WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park. (San Diego Free Press)
• San Diego New Music opened its season last week, launching a series of shows focused on California’s ongoing drought. (U-T)
• Malashock Dance is gearing up to launch its new season with a performance that includes choreography aimed at bringing songwriter Leonard Cohen’s music to life. (San Diego Community News)
• The Balboa Park Conservancy, a nonprofit that advocates for Balboa Park, is urging a yes vote on Measure J, the city proposal to direct money from Mission Bay Park’s commercial leases to fund improvements projects at regional parks.
• Activist and artist Aaron Leaf has been using his skills to document the life of Alfred Olango, a Ugandan refugee shot and killed by El Cajon police, and others killed by San Diego police. (CityBeat)
• The artist in La Jolla whose large-scale sculpture in the front yard of his La Jolla home was deemed illegal structure, is looking for someone who wants the piece in exchange for covering the cost of relocation it. Soon, the artist will be forced to pay a fine until he gets rid of the sculpture. (La Jolla Light)
• Learn more about animals in motion at a new exhibition opening at the San Diego Natural History Museum this week.
• The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus is kicking off its new season this week with a free family concert and a concert featuring music wrote by composers at the midpoint of their careers.
• CityBeat’s “Best Of” issue pits popular places and organizations against one another and lets folks vote on their favorite arts, culture, food, outdoor and other city offerings.
• The Port of San Diego’s public art program is back in full effect after suffering major budget cuts a few years ago. Experience the work the program is producing this Saturday at an experimental sound installation by San Diego artist Margaret Noble.
• The Museum of Photographic Arts opened a new exhibition.
• Artist Roberto “Bear” Guerra’s installation of huge photos of homeless people is currently at the Kellogg Library at California State University San Marcos.
• The Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park re-contextualizes Japanese craftsmen’s tools as art in a new exhibition opening this week.
• The U-T’s Karla Peterson profiles a local nonprofit that teaches photographic storytelling techniques to at-risk youth.
• KPBS talks to one of the Marine Corps veterans who created a new piece of art for the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park.
• There’s a big bike event happening Sunday.
• The U-T’s theater critic says New Village Arts’ “God of Carnage” taps into the current climate of electoral angst.
• CityBeat music writer Jeff Terich regularly sifts through albums tagged “San Diego” on Bandcamp as a way of keeping tabs on the music being made in our city.
• Art Guide San Diego drops in on a live drawing and painting demo at Sparks Gallery downtown with artist Anna Stump.
• The art you’ll see at Barons Market in North Park when it opens is by these five local artists.
• There’s a lot of buzz about La Jolla Playhouse’s soon-to-open “Miss You Like Hell” musical. (U-T)
Food, Beer and Booze News
• The new outdoor food market in City Heights has been happening for a few weeks now, but it’s holding an official grand opening event Wednesday.
• If you frequent local farmers markets, you’ve likely run into a charismatic Carlsbad dude selling his Bitchin’ Sauce products. The vegan dip can now be found at a few select Costcos in the region.
• The U-T calls celebrity chef Brian Malarky’s new Little Italy restaurant, Herb & Wood, a “sexy supper club” and a “runaway smash because of the food.”
• A new speakeasy is opening in Oceanside on Thursday. (San Diego Food Finds)
• Citing ethical reasons, a local restaurant owner transformed one of her restaurants from a steakhouse into an eatery serving small plates and farm-to-table cocktails. (San Diego Magazine)
• I thought dive bars had to earn their reputations as dives. Apparently it just takes the right name, prices, food and decor. (Eater San Diego)
• The Baja Culinary Fest is happening this weekend.
• Here’s a list of restaurants, both pricey and affordable, y’all might want to consider adding to your bucket list. (U-T)