The City’s Cultural Affairs Division held a second workshop last Wednesday to solicit residents’ views on and visions for the arts and culture in the next decade in Santa Monica.
About 30 people attended the workshop at Miles Playhouse, which was divided into two parts. First, participants were asked, “What is your vision for the arts and culture in Santa Monica in ten years?” Then, they were asked “What do you think we need to do to achieve that vision?”
At the end of the session, people were asked to rank the items under each area of interest by priority.
The first area was Santa Monica as a cultural mecca. Items listed in order of importance were: make the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium into an arts/cultural focal point; integrate the arts into the daily life in Santa Monica –- integrate arts spaces with business spaces, appoint artists to every board and commission in the City; document the cultural history of Santa Monica and support the arts with the same zeal with which environmental issues are supported.
Other priorities for this area were: develop ways to retain/preserve artists/arts organizations in Santa Monica; insist that Santa Monica policy makers treasure the arts and culture and understand their economic impact; include an art element in new downtown development; increase community advocacy for the arts; ensure that the arts reflect the diversity of Santa Monica – from the point of view of both content and participation; and create an environment in which non-commercial art can co-exist with commercial art – create a choice.”
Addressing means of increasing participation in and access to the arts in Santa Monica, participants suggested encouraging more participation by business leaders and politicians in the arts by educating them regarding the value of cultural organizations; ensuring diversity in the arts – from all perspectives, participation content availability etc, installing more outdoor interactive art; holding a multi-day arts festival, engage residents in the arts; and develop an arts hotline with a centralized calendar of cultural events.
Other recommendations in this area were: provide training for artists who work with youth to enable them to communicate more powerfully; acquire a portable stage for performances in parks and other public venues; increase access/exposure to the arts by youth; lifelong arts education – from the cradle to the grave — not just in the schools, but throughout the community; and more art in the community.”
Suggestions for increasing support for the arts and culture – from funding to facilities included: improving access to arts venues by centralizing or co-locating various cultural facilities to create synergy; establish a private fund for art requirements to support the arts, Civic Center/City Hall should have an outdoor performing area, having a hotel tax to support the arts, funding for youth arts experiences and more operational funding for arts organizations.” Other suggestions were “not just one centralized theater, create lots of local theaters, having housing for artists, developing a place similar to LA Shares- resources/recycled materials for artists/arts organizations and creating a capital fund for arts organizations.” The final suggestions for this area were “direct support (grants) for individual artists, establishing a children’s/youth art center, developing a Cultural Center – museum and theater/500 seats, creating an arts incubator space, broadening the usage of the Airport by artists, developing a model for cultural facility investment/support and more exhibition/performance opportunities for local artists.”
Among other ideas contributed by participants were to centralize resources for more effective programming – don’t duplicate efforts, create an inventory/directory of cultural spaces, use the arts as a means of healing, create more opportunities to come together as a community, establish a City special events committee to oversee/coordinate community cultural events and create an initiative in which where every household in Santa Monica contributes $5 annually to support the arts.
Additional comments included “The arts community needs to take leadership in making ‘cradle to the grave’ arts education a reality and partner with the school district to ensure that students are exposed to professional artists invite perceptions to shift about the arts, engage local artists to develop a mentor program, use artistic resources for youth arts education and more support for street performers.
The existing Santa Monica Cultural Arts Master Plan was developed in 1992 and last updated in 1996.The first workshop was held on May 7 at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. People who would like to take part can fill out a survey on the current cultural activities in the community. Copies are available at City Hall and in all branches of the Santa Monica Public Library.