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City Hosts Pico Arts Workshop:

The public is invited to a City-hosted community meeting on Saturday, September 9 at 3 p.m. at Virginia Avenue Park to gather public input on how the arts and culture can be encouraged to flourish in the Pico Neighborhood. The Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division will host all attendees for an old-fashioned ice cream social following the discussions.

The City is preparing a master plan to guide the continued development of community cultural resources throughout Santa Monica, and the September 9 meeting is one of a series of such conferences that began with a citywide Town Hall on June 24, 2006. The goal of the planning process, called Creative Capital, is to forge a common vision for the future of arts and culture in Santa Monica.

This Virginia Avenue Park gathering will address needs and desires specific to the Pico Neighborhood. Three separate workshops will be held simultaneously, one focusing on teens, another focusing on younger children and finally one for adults.

At the children’s workshop, local artist Marni Gittelson will help the kids convey their desires through the creation of special art glasses which will reveal their dreams of the future. Carla Fantozzi, director of the Virginia Avenue Park Teen Center, will lead high school and middle school young people through exercises designed to bring out their ideas for how cultural programming can enhance their experience of growing up in Santa Monica. Meanwhile, Jessica Cusick, Cultural Affairs Manager, will work with parents and other adults to find ways that culture and art can make life in the Pico Neighborhood more beneficial. Ice cream to follow.

The Creative Capital master plan will be developed in two phases. The first, now underway, focuses on community input and research. Then, between now and January 2007, preliminary reports and a draft of the plan will be circulated for additional public review and comment, with the final plan presented to the City Council in early 2007.

The City has retained the Cultural + Planning Group as consultants for this project. That firm, based in downtown Los Angeles, has created cultural master plans for various cities and communities, according to Malina Moore, Administrative Staff Assistant at the Cultural Affairs Division. The City Council approved a $90,000 contract with the firm in February 2006.

Another workshop will be held on September 13 focusing on Santa Monica’s Civic Auditorium. The City is also developing an online directory of the many creative people who live and work in Santa Monica and is listing Community Treasures, cultural and artistic icons that help to make Santa Monica a special place.

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