Mayor Kevin Faulconer has proposed slashing arts and culture funding by $4.7 million to help fill an $81 million budget deficit.

On Monday, over 200 arts leaders and supporters flooded the Civic Center Plaza in advance of this week’s City Council budget hearings. Speakers at the rally urged City Council members to push back on the mayor’s cuts and ask him to reinstate some of the funding for the Commission for Arts and Culture, which uses about 80 percent of the money it gets from the city’s hotel tax to fund local arts and culture nonprofits.

City Council members Lorie Zapf, Chris Ward and David Alvarez made brief appearances at the rally to voice their support for the arts. Alvarez called the proposed cuts too drastic.

Photo by Kinsee Morlan
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

“Now we’re seeing, I would say, the most devastating cuts in the history of our city to arts and culture,” he said.

Alvarez and others said the city should increase arts funding to fulfill the Penny for the Arts plan passed in 2012. The plan envisions putting 9.5 percent of the city’s hotel tax collections toward arts programs by 2017.

Essentially, the blueprint says one penny of every dollar spent at a hotel in San Diego should go toward funding arts and culture, which in turn works to attract more visitors to the city. If the city made good on its Penny for the Arts promise, the Commission for Arts and Culture’s budget would be $22 million this year.

“But we’ve been allocated so far $10.4 (million), which is the lowest percentage of [the hotel tax], possibly in the history of the commission,” said Todd Schultz of the San Diego Symphony.

Jen Lebron, a spokeswoman for the mayor, called the budget a balancing act and said cuts had to be made across the board to “preserve the day-to-day neighborhood services that all residents rely on like road repair and public safety.” She also called the mayor a “strong supporter of the arts” and pointed out that the commission is getting a little over $3 million more in funding than it was in 2012.

But especially for the big arts and culture organizations that rely on significant city funding every year, the cuts represent a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of them use that money to fund programs that work to expand arts access to a more diverse audiences.

The Old Globe’s artistic director Barry Edelstein said the cuts will be hard for even the city’s biggest and oldest arts organizations to handle.

“We were completely blindsided,” Edelstein said. “And that’s an important point to make because nonprofit institutions are fragile, even big ones like The Globe, and we need time to plan.”

One foundation that has funded The Old Globe in the past, the James Irvine Foundation, gave the arts groups it funds six years’ notice when it decided to shift its funding priorities, Edelstein said.

“We depend on a consistent level of funding and suddenly to go, wow, a 30 percent whack– it’s just really painful,” he said.

The final budget will be released on May 16. In years past, City Council members have successfully snagged more money for the arts than originally proposed by the mayor.

Michael Rosenberg, managing director of La Jolla Playhouse, said he is optimistic that the final budget would boost arts funding, but until there’s a permanent funding source, the same struggle will continue to play out.

“I think until San Diego votes for a dedicated tax for arts funding, like Denver for example, we’re unfortunately going to have to do this fight every single year,” he said. “And unlike the Chargers, we’re not going anywhere, so we’d like to see the city support us.”

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East Village Pop-Up Park Will Pop Up in New Location

East Village residents have been fretting over the impending loss of Quartyard, a temporary urban park and outdoor venue at Park Boulevard and Market Street. This week, park fans were told Quartyard found a new home, at least for the next few years.

Photo by Kinsee Morlan
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Last year, the city-owned lot the park sits on was sold to developers who want to build a mixed-use project that includes a new downtown outpost for UC San Diego. As soon as the developers are ready to start construction, Quartyard will have to move.

Rad Lab, the team of young architects and developers behind Quartyard, has been working on finding a new home for the last several months. On Monday the group announced they’d found a new home on a vacant lot just a block away, at 13th and Market streets.

Quartyard was always meant to be temporary and mobile. The idea was for the park to pop up on empty urban lots across the city.

“Our initial concept was to move from lot to lot,” said Rad Lab’s co-founder, David Loewenstein. “So it will be super exciting to see it actually happen, to actually pick up and move from one spot to the next so we can see if it works. It’s still a total social experiment, so we’ll see if it proves successful.”

The park currently takes up about 25,000 square feet. The new location is about half that size. Loewenstein said they will reconfigure the design and move almost all of the park’s amenities – the stage, the bar, the restaurant, the cafe, the dog park and a restroom – to their new home.

Buskers Keep Fighting, and Other Arts and Culture News

• A small group of San Diego street performers, or buskers, showed up to protest the permitting system at Balboa Park last Saturday, but the rain and other factors kept most folks, including the media, from showing up. A few artists say they are working on organizing another event to shine a light on the system they say is unconstitutional.

Photo by Kinsee Morlan
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

• I think the print version of this short Union-Tribune story on Tijuana/San Diego street artist Panca and her solo show at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights was much more impressive and included more photos.

The Old Globe unveiled its new 2017-18 season. (Union-Tribune)

• The San Diego Art Institute’s artist-in-residence want you to ditch your iPhones and go to the museum’s Horton Plaza Project Space to join a free stitching circle. (CityBeat)

A new bronze statue of Tony Gwynn was unveiled in Poway. (NBC 7)

 Speaking of Poway, famed photographer Catherine Opie, who lived there for a few years, is this year’s speaker for the Museum of Contemporary of Art San Diego and the San Diego Museum of Art’s annual Axline Lecture.

• The Union-Tribune talked to Ruben Valenzuela, founder and artistic director of Bach Collegium San Diego, about his work connecting audiences to music from the 17th and 18th centuries.

 A new(ish) collective of feminist artists is opening a group show at Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla this weekend.

Arts District Liberty Station announced a new outdoor film series.

• San Diego’s version of Mardis Gras is happening this week. (Entertainer)

A free panel discussion Tuesday night will take on the topic of urbanism and the arts.

• Dallas McLaughlin, one of the hosts of VOSD Podcast Network show “The Kept Faith,” wrote a new one-man show and he’s performing it next Tuesday night.  

La Jolla Playhouse’s new Jimmy Buffett musical has opened in previews, which means you can expect to see a whole lot of stories about the musician in coming weeks. (Union-Tribune)

• The city of Lemon Grove is showing off its murals in a public event Monday.

• On Saturday, Chicano Park will host an annual event that asks artists to come up with hands-on art projects in which the public can participate.

• Michael Taylor, a board member of The Old Globe who’s been working to cater to a more diverse audience, launched a new online video series spotlighting black celebrities performing in the local theater scene. (BroadwayWorld)

• The city of Carlsbad is developing a new arts and culture master plan.

Photographer Michael Ready has been working on an ongoing project highlighting the diverse ecosystems and wildlife at Cabrillo National Monument. He’ll be talking more about it there on Saturday.

A new gallery on El Cajon Boulevard is featuring a show curated by a class at Mesa College.

Food, Beer and Booze News

• San Diego’s new Coffee Training Institute in Barrio Logan is now offering barista classes. I wrote more about the nonprofit here.

• A new Chula Vista Brewery opened its doors last weekend.

• A new brewery opened in Ramona as well.

• San Diego brewers won lots of awards at the 2017 San Diego International Beer Competition. (Reader)

• OMG, rolled ice cream sounds amazing. (Reader)

Get to know more about North County’s 7,000 square feet of food and drink known as Open House. (Eater)

• CBS 8 took a tour of musician Jason Mraz’s family farm in Oceanside.

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link.

Kinsee Morlan was formerly the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. She also managed VOSD’s podcasts and covered...

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