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Residents Envision Arts Future:

The City of Santa Monica’s Cultural Affairs Division held the first of two workshops on May 7 at which residents examine the future of the arts in Santa Monica.

Held at the Santa Monica Museum of Art at Bergamot Station, the workshop was divided into several exercises.

At the outset, the 40-some participants were asked, “What is your vision for the arts and culture in Santa Monica in ten years?”

Subsequently, they were asked “What do you think we need to do to achieve that vision?”

At the end of the session, the City asked everyone to rank items under each area of interest by priority.

The first area of interest was Santa Monica as a cultural destination/more arts in Santa Monica. In order of importance, participants listed: “Present local arts/artists in public spaces – art in streets, the parks, the neighborhoods – dance, poetry, ‘more is better,’ foster a broad spectrum of the arts, and community performances as a means for becoming an arts destination.”

Also listed in that area were “Poetry on buses and community arts events including an annual open call art show and a community-wide Halloween festival/Dia de los Muertos event parade.”

Other suggestions included “Generate site specific work in unusual spaces, more connections to cultural tourism, radical art could distinguish Santa Monica from other places, ‘Come to Santa Monica and experience art everywhere’ and showcase local artists on the Third Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier.”

Finally, participants suggested “If the school district had all four arts disciplines for all grade levels, we would be about the only district in California to do so, thus bringing arts – centered families to Santa Monica, developing pride and future art lovers, and having shoreline art, park art, ‘beauty by the sea.’”

In the area of awareness of/participation in the arts in Santa Monica, participants suggested “build relationships between artists/arts organizations and underserved communities, more opportunities to engage in art (public, accessible, etc.), art nights and arts education, generate interest in the arts in young people.”

Other recommendations in this area were “collective marketing/outreach programs to make the arts more accessible – a Santa Monica culture card, increasing awareness of arts in the community, more free or discounted arts events, more opportunities for youth and engage senior citizens and the disabled as participants.”

The suggestions for funding for the arts in Santa Monica included “private percent for art requirement – generate more dollars for the arts, more money for individual artists and increase arts grants.”

In the final area, cultural facilities, the participants suggested “establishing a cultural focal point for Santa Monica – cultural center, having an affordable live/work space for artists to aid in artists’ retention and the need for a theatre like the Redcat (in terms of scale and flexibility) in Santa Monica.”

The existing Santa Monica Cultural Arts Master Plan was developed in 1992 and updated in 1996.A second workshop to obtain additional community input will be held tonight at the Miles Playhouse at 1130 Lincoln Boulevard. People who are unable to attend the workshops can fill out the survey on current cultural activities in the community. Copies are available at City Hall and in all branches of the Santa Monica Public Library.

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