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Council Approves New Cultural Plan:

Creative Capital, a 10-year master cultural plan for the arts and culture in Santa Monica, received an enthusiastic nod from both the City Council and the community Tuesday evening, February 27.

The plan is the result of a yearlong effort by the City’s Cultural Affairs Division, the community and planning experts to develop a plan for the community’s shared vision that “interweaves cultural activities, entertainment and education” more thoroughly throughout the community.

In his presentation to the Council, City consultant David Plettner of the Cultural Planning Group noted Santa Monica has the “largest concentration of creative professionals in the United States.” Forty-three percent of Santa Monicans work in the arts either on a full or part-time basis. Twenty percent of those workers work in the visual arts, 20 percent are writers, 16 percent work as designers and 13 percent work in either the movie or television industry. Thus, this plan is based upon the “distinctive characteristics of the community” and reflects the community’s view that “the cultural ecosystem is being threatened by real estate pressures and lack of focus.”

The plan includes three comprehensive strategies for celebrating the community’s cultural vision. The suggestions for “celebrating innovation” are to have thematic programming, convening creatives and leveraging creative partnerships. In order to “increase cultural participation” the plan recommends “offering cultural programs ‘where people are,’ festivals and community showcases, marketing and coordination.” The final strategy is to “enhance sustainability” and includes having additional “cultural facilities, leadership development and expanding and restructuring cultural funding.”

Plettner also mentioned that the plan would be implemented “by the City and by community partners and it will make use of existing as well as new resources both public and private.” The City’s Cultural Affairs Manager, Jessica Cusick, described some of the first implementation steps such as initiating partnerships, coordinating with the City’s ongoing land use update and “taking a closer look at the Civic Auditorium as a cultural facility.”

Prior to giving their approval, the Council heard from the community. The Deputy Director of the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Lisa Murlandry, summed up the community’s support for the plan by stating, “Arts improve our lives. They are linked with such enormous benefits as crime prevention, strengthening families and enriching cities for residents and visitors both socially and economically.”

Councilmember Kevin McKeown made the motion to approve the plan by noting, “This report really rocks. It argues so powerfully for our putting more resources into the arts.”

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