In this time of economic downturn, the Arts are seen as a way to revitalize communities by creating audience, involving our children, protecting and valuing cultural heritage, and reaching out to community to participate in projects. The Arts metaphorically till the earth in preparation for financial growth.
SDVAN is lucky to be one of the few non-profits confident we can maintain all of our programs with no cut backs. We budget with existing funds and not projected ones. We have found that the financial climate has made it easier to form collaboration, which is one of our major goals. We have a loyal base of volunteers which remain excited and dedicated. In fact, we see this as an excellent time to widen our scope and influence and show how important the visual arts are to our community. The county wide Little & Large promotion is a perfect example of this growth.
Affordable Live/Work Spaces
Abridged and adapted from an Article by Kelly Bennett for Voice of San Diego
We see it time and time again. Artists move into an area which is affordable for them which usually means quite low rents. They energize the community, draw crowds which draw new businesses. Then property prices go up and the artists can no longer afford to live in that community and have to move on.
Naomi Nussbaum of The Synergy Art Foundation, and Mario Torero, a Chicano Park artist could see this pattern repeating it self and decided to form a project BL./EV (for Barrio Logan/East Village and pronounced as Believe) to try to build up this area for artists and make sure that when they succeeded in creating a new art district, artist might remain long term. Cheryl Nickel joined the group as an artist also passionate about this cause.
Earlier this year this core group joined with the North Park and El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement/Arts Districts who are also interested in affordable artist and arts organization space. With funding from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) the fee was paid for ArtSpace, a non-profit property development organization out of Philadelphia to speak about their organization. Many ideas were generated at this meeting and although ArtSpace is a rather expensive choice for property development, their format for encouraging creative centers could be adapted for San Diego.
The BL/EV group wants to take a lead in creating permanent, affordable artist live/work space to attract and keep artists in their downtowns. There are a variety of ways this can happen and each would evolve organically and in accordance with the needs of the artists involved.:
- Fixed lower rents subsidized by city, state, federal (tax credit not taken advantage of yet in our county), and private funds.
- Lease to own options for those wanting to invest and reap the benefits,
- Family options and Cooperatives
Beyond work/live space there could be other facilities including the following examples:
- An exhibition space, a performance space, perhaps even a community organic garden.
- A community center or even a specialized museum to acknowledge the cultural heritage of the community.
- Artists' support services such as . printing facilities, recording studios, framing shop, etc.
- Other creative enterprises which support local small-scale economic development, mass transit, and emphasizing local character.
- Affordable low-income housing would be part of the centers, thus helping retain the socioeconomic and ethnic character.
Although the initial focus is the Barrio Logan East Village district, those nearby urban areas such as North Park, El Cajon Blvd., City Heights are all areas where these plans could be seeded. Elsewhere in the county, for example El Cajon, San Ysidro, Encinitas, Vista, Oceanside, there is also an interest in creating arts districts.
The results of these creative centers would be increased community pride and economic growth. For poorer neighborhoods, this means artists need an opportunity to grow economically with the creative businesses in their neighborhoods. For more affluent areas, artists can help to renew creative elements in neighborhoods, bring appreciation of local character and culture, assure aesthetic quality, support economic development and aid with arts education. These are all core needs of the creative class (as described by Richard Florida), which comprises about one-third of the work force in the most successful cities and is the sector that will define successful, dynamic cities of the future,
Our biggest challenge is the high cost to rent or purchase space together with the limits spent on art in San Diego, which help support artists with sales of art. San Diego government and civic leaders must realize that the best investments in the future are not giant ballparks, but are the much less costly, much more cost effective investments in supporting the creative economy.