Community members recently had the opportunity to give input on a set of draft recommendations developed over the last seven months for the City’s Creative Capital plan.
According to the City documents, the plan is being developed “to guide the future development of culture and the arts” in the City because the arts and culture in Santa Monica not only affect the City’s quality of life but also play a significant part in the City’s economy. An analysis prepared for the City by Goodwin Simon Victoria Research found that “43 percent of Santa Monica’s adults make all or part of their living in arts-related fields and the City has by far the highest rate of creative employment among the top 20 US cities by creative sector.”
This same analysis also found that residents have a very high level of participation in cultural activities. “For example, residents visited an art museum or gallery at twice the national average (83 percent compared to 41 percent)” and “believe having public art in the community to be nearly as important as good public schools.” In addition, “72 percent of families with children involve them in arts activities outside of school.”
The three draft strategies developed for the Creative Capital plan are: celebrating innovation, increasing cultural participation and enhancing sustainability. Steps for celebrating innovation include focusing on “individual creativity and innovation, the hallmarks of Santa Monica’s unique cultural identity; and by convening the entire creative sector, across disciplines, to explore common interests and opportunities.”
The strategy for increasing cultural participation includes “providing greater access to cultural programs for all Santa Monica’s residents through festivals, by offering cultural programs in public places and making it easier to learn about what is available.” The third strategy, enhancing sustainability, will help ensure a stable future for the arts in Santa Monica by retaining, developing “and reusing the cultural facilities that fit the community’s unique identity – accompanied by funding and leadership development programs that build capacity among the City’s nonprofit cultural institutions.” Recommendations include the development of small-scale, intimate performing and visual arts facilities, the creation of Arts Alleys near the Third Street Promenade and development of live/work spaces for artists.
Suggestions made at the meeting included using the City’s Seascape to promote cultural programming by nonprofits other than City-sponsored events, lowering the cost of renting public facilities for cultural events, strengthening the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau information on City cultural events and getting financial contributions to support arts marketing efforts. Additional proposals included having a building just for the arts in the Civic Center, providing more information online, having a comprehensive arts directory, developing a marketing festival, advertising events on the Big Blue Bus, more support for street performers and exhibiting art in hotel lobbies, coffee shops and restaurants.
The plan will now be finalized and presented to the City Council for review.