Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

On the Occasion of our 200th SDVAN RAW Column


For some reason I decided to number the RAW columns for San Diego Visual Arts Network in 2006 when they started. This month is the occasion of the 200th of those missives on visual art world, transitions, opportunities, advocacies, events and sometimes just pure gossip. I have not tracked the number of A+ Art Blogs or Picked RAW Peeled reports or even the numbers of views of any of these communications. (A researcher could uncover that information as everything is archived religiously.) 

I didn’t number these articles specially to keep track of them, but the number is recorded within the word documents for each month although not online. You could do a calculation from the beginning as RAW is presented once a month and there have been no gaps in the presentation. I have no real explanation for this except, I started way back and then just continued on automatic pilot. 

So why should I bring this to your attention?  During the pandemic we have been able to slow down and notice things we might not otherwise have observed. I think many of us are aware of the weight gain during isolation*. We read that the average increase is 1 ½ pounds per month i.e. 18 pounds for the year. I have slowly watched my hair grow ½ inch by half inch each month until it is now mid back. Are we just marking time in what seems to be an endless march to the other side?

Maybe numbering things helps us to have stepping stones forward. We have certainly relied on numbers to make decision about COVID-19 and what level of emergency we are experiencing: how many have the disease, how many have died, how many have been vaccinated. But our belief in numbers is challenging and not just since the election. What should or shouldn’t, could or can’t be counted is a problem that all statistician face. 

I was hoping that looking back might help with looking forward. So, I dived into some of the earliest columns, as well as middle and late ones. Nada, nothing, no deep insights, no revelations. But history is re-written all the time, so maybe in the future, someone will access these records and get an idea of what this slice of life was like. Or maybe not.


*My husband and I are actually social eaters and both managed to lose 20 pounds during isolation!

Monday, March 22, 2021

Simply the Best: A Step Too Far and actually quite dangerous!


We can all agree it has been quite a year.  A confusing year but one with time for contemplation. We are all worried about health during the pandemic but world health has always been a concern. The MeToo, BlackLivesMatter, Anti-AsianHate, Antisemitic, political and environmental movements all draw our attention. You want to be supportive but sometimes it is overwhelming to know what to do.

I just had my second vaccination. By the beginning of April, I am hoping to be as immune as possible from Covid-19. But I had after effects from the shot and spent days in bed and woke up on the fourth day with a vision springing from a dream. In the dream I was trying to help someone decide how best to help the world. I kept returning to the subject of racism. It seemed to be such a core part of the problems. I talked to my sister and she helped me understand that racism has many, many causes.   But they all have one thing in common and that is the idea of supremacy.

In economic supremacy, we want security but that can lead to massive unfair practices.  Sexual supremacy can challenge the ego and create insecurities about adequacy. Divine supremacy puts one god, yours, over all others. Ecological supremacy is the survival of the fittest without regard for our responsibility for our planet and all the creatures on it. Military or Corporate supremacy is dominance without regard to human rights.

Supremacy seems to be a pit to be avoided. I am a big fan of Tina Turner, but Simply the Best is a not the way to go. Yes, be the best you can be, but being the best i.e. “better than anyone else” should not be a life’s goal. In fact, it keeps us from working together to solve our problems.

Instead, life should be like a four-way intersection. Stop, be courteous, wait your turn, then move forward. My wish is that you will have lots of passengers in your car wanting to go to the same destination of peace on earth and goodwill to all. Happy Springtime as we come to the season of rebirth.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

A Tale of Two Learnings

By Patricia Frischer

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Too much?  It just seems so appropriate that after the first phrase, I had to include the whole thing.  But this is not about a city, but about two completely different learning experiences that I had recently, in fact on the same day.

I adore listening to a professional who presents expertise in a special area and I was fascinated to learn from Sheridan Reed about Cloisonné at the online lecture, How many types of Cloisonne are there? presented as part of the SDSU Chinese Cultural Center collaboration with the SD Chinese History Museum.  (More info: Mu-Ting Huang  6195944791)

Cloisonné is a decorative art form practiced since 1300 BCE. Traditionally, wires are used to divide colors on a metal substrate and to create designs and then filled with glass. But it is easy to confuse cloisonné with other forms of enameling and Chinese cloisonné is different than that made in Japan. Being able to identify all these different aspect does take a “superlative degree of comparison” skills and being guided through the difference between Champleve (where the metal is gouged out and then filled with glass) and Basse Taile (where the metal is engraved with a design of lines and the glass floats over the top)  was inspiring.  The following gives you a brief overview in pictures of all we learned of the steps of the cloisonné process.

Collection Andy Lu

In the second workshop, I learned from young students on the spectrum about their dreams and their challenges while they created I AM Identity boxes. They were asked, “Who do I feel I am inside? What do I want others to know about me? What words encourage me to be my best?” This project was inspired by the world-famous autism expert and award winning college professor, Dr. Temple Grandin. She said, “The most interesting people you'll find are ones that don't fit into your average cardboard box. They'll make what they need, they'll make their own boxes.”. The workshop was led by Kira Carrillo Corser part of Compassionate Arts San Diego and creators of The Posts for Peace and Justice.

Kira encouraged the students by suppling small wooden boxes and simply telling them that it might be good to add some words that are meaningful, to paint some images or add found objects.

She also said glass sparkles and is a symbol of the soul. It transmits light. It made me think of the cloisonné and how I was drawn to it. 

Some of the words these young geniuses came up with are as follows:

Shine brightly so others have a lighted path
I am not broken, I am just different.
I can speak and think for myself

Marisa identifies as “Wolf Girl.” She loves and feels comfortable with animals. So she found an image of a wolf and pasted it into her box, after painting the box her favorite colors red and purple. Her words inside the box are, “Throw me to the wolves and I become their leader.”

But of course, my favorite was: My art is worth a thousand words.

The boxes display on a Post for Peace and Justice


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Finger on the Pulse

This past year, like many of you, I questioned most days what I am supposed to be doing. There is no business as usual, but there is a lot of time to fill. Normally, proactive, but getting on in years, I found myself deciding to wait and see. I did use my non-profit website to list visual arts virtual events in San Diego (about 150) and I did, myself, attend many of those events and even report on some in my blog. I continued to make my own art and I looked at lots and lots of art on Instagram and the internet.

Only now am I realizing, that what I was actually doing was keeping my finger on the pulse of the art world. I was tracking visual reactions to Black Lives Matter. I was immersed in the election and how that might affect the art world. Support of the arts on the city and county level are particularly important in San Diego. We are the only county in California not to have an arts council. I was noticing and participating in thank you banners for our first responders and frontline workers and hoping to do so to encourage people to vaccinate.  

I was absorbing the lost of art friends, people who now have no pulse; not gathering for funerals, of course, but writing words of consolation to family and friends. I was celebrating birthdays, sunsets, even a new water heater, a good harvest of lemons, and continued good health.  I was spreading joy with cookie exchanges and spectacular holiday light reports. I was being a friend by lending an ear. All these day to day activities are an integral part of the pulse of our community. The small acts need to continue to be rooted in compassion and awareness.

I have made a personal symbol for myself to commemorate the new year and new hope. My Finger on the Pulse bronze and silver bracelet is comfortable, light weight, shiny and a reminder to me that what goes around will come around. 

See more works from the Not Your Mother's Finger Bowl series by Patricia Frischer


Thursday, December 3, 2020

State of the Arts 2021: San Diego Creative Industry by the Numbers

 by Patricia Frischer

This seems to be the time of the year when reports are published about how things are going for the year. I myself have been writing these State of the Arts reports since 2008. But although I have wishes for this next year that include a revised San Diego Art Council of some kind which aids collaborations and partnership and brings our community ever closer together, I can not make any predictions.

One comment I will make is that the arts should not be afraid of exposure online in any way lessening actual attendance. The more exposure now and in the future, the more people will come when they can do so again safely. Culture seems to be replacing religion for more and more people as we search for peace and equality in the world. 

However, I did slog through over 100 pages of reports to summarize what might be some of the most important statistics generated by both county and city documents. In part A, I have summarized the report for the whole county in terms of the financial health of the creative community.  In Part II, I report on the effects of COVID on the City of San Diego. I pay particular attention the visual arts as founder and coordinator of the San Diego Visual Arts Network.

Part I

The San Diego Regional Economic Development Council and the City of San Diego contracted the UC San Diego Extension Center for Research (CR+E) to conduct a comprehensive study that defined, profiled and quantified the economic impact of San Diego’s Creative Economy. This is a county wide report.

·        13,000 self-employed creative workers who are growing in numbers but lagging in earnings
·        6776 Visual and Performing Arts jobs projected to stay the same until 2024
·        935 of the 7,386 non-profit and for-profit creative firms are in Visual and Performing Arts
·        Entities are on average 59% for profit and 34% non-profit
·        Majority of these are small organizations with one location and 1-19 employees with 40-60%  of them hiring contractors.
·        Every job in creative industry supports another 1.1 jobs. 107,673 impacted jobs with $11.1 billion impact.
·        $559,800,000 produced by Visual and Performing Arts
·        The median annual income for all creative occupations is $75,000
·        There are nearly 13,000 self-employed creatives in the region, with a third in the Visual & Performing Arts industries.
·        Companies are overwhelmingly pleased with the skilled creative workforce in San Diego. For-profits (88%), non-profits (87%), overall (87%) of companies gave an average, above average, or excellent rating for San Diego having a skilled workforce.

A deeper dive into the Creative Economy revealed some of the concerns. For-profit arts companies do not think that government agencies are sufficiently investing in the city’s creative economy. Non-profits arts organizations emphasize that San Diego does not have a creative industry culture. For-profit companies share concerns of AB5 regulations inhibit business success, and difficulty with business regulation compliance. Non-profits described having difficulties dealing with administrators in the local government, and little to no government resources for small organizations. Non-profits describe the contracting and procurement process is often complicated and cumbersome. For-profit arts companies share concerns with non-profits that there are not a lot of training options for creative fields including limited networking opportunities 

Part II

2020 Culture Shift: Measuring COVID-19 Impact on The City of San Diego Arts and Culture Nonprofits

The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego – on behalf of the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture – conducted a survey of arts and culture organizations funded by the City in fiscal year 2020. In that year, the City invested $11.4 million in arts and culture organizations. For fiscal year 2021, the City was forced to reduced annual funding to approximately $5.7 million due to drastically reduced tax revenues. Eight months into the pandemic, many City-funded arts and culture organizations are experiencing unprecedented financial losses

The sample includes 129 organizations, representing both small (revenue under $250K), medium ($250k – $1 million) and large (+$1 million) nonprofits from a variety of arts disciplines. The respondents comprise approximately 50 percent of the total arts and culture organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service as Nonprofits and Charitable Organizations in the City of San Diego.

Key findings from the survey illustrate the devastating economic impact of closures, job losses, and lost revenue on arts and culture nonprofits as follows.

·        90 percent of arts and culture related organizations are still closed or partially closed as of August 2020.
·        Total revenue loss is estimated at $96.6 million.
·        Estimated cost of implementing recovery strategies is $64.6 million
·        40% of employees and 19% of contractors laid off or furloughed in the Visual Arts and it is generally anticipated that furloughs will become layoffs before the pandemic ends.
·        95% of organizations report reduction in program related revenue totaling $79.4 million.
·        More than 65% report a decline in individual donations. More than two-thirds of organizations reported experiencing a loss of contributed revenue due to the cancellation of fundraising events. Total reported contributed dollars lost equals $17.2 million
·        The cost of recovery to reopen to the public is reported to be nearly $65 million.
·        Philanthropy has been minimally responsive and engaged with only $3 million from local foundations and donors
·        COVID-related donations and relief already leveraged from federal, state, local government is a total of $28.3 million in emergency relief 

The effects of the pandemic are anticipated to be long-lasting, with smaller local audiences and lower levels of tourism, reductions in funding, and loss of workforce talent to other cities. Emergency relief funding for the arts and culture sector was relatively small compared to other sectors, both for-profit and nonprofit. 

San Diego Visual Arts Network is especially interested in the recommendations of this report, the last two of which are to encourage collective impact philanthropy by recommending the creation of arts and culture COVID-19 emergency task force to advise philanthropy on collective impact strategies to better support our arts and culture nonprofits. This task force could morph into the revised SD County Arts Council or Bureau of Arts and Culture. The last recommendation was to build/raise awareness about the economic and social impact of arts and culture nonprofits among funders, investors, policymakers, businesses, and other sectors. This summary is to that effect. 

Postscript: The San Diego Foundation 2020 Annual Report  just came out. They granted more than $77 million to nonprofit organizations with the most charitable year in their history and they also surpassed $1 billion in assets. About $67 million of that stayed in San Diego. Of the $9,769,081 that went to the arts over $3 1/3 million went to the Symphony and almost $3 million went to museums. Sadly only $116,672 went to arts education.

Want more?: 
Collectors during the Pandemic Picked RAW Peeled by Patricia Frischer

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Artist Guide to Surviving the Pandemic: 5 things you can do which will keep you working

We all find the situation that we are in right now confusing and frustrating. It is hard to wake up each morning not knowing what tomorrow will bring. But as artists, we find solace in making things. Here are my 5 tips to keep focus and optimism in your life. 

This post was inspired by Crista Cloutier who gave a presentation Creating a Business Plan for Today and the Future for the Redwood Art Group who produces Art San Diego. 

1.  Concentrate on building relationships: don’t hide away, connect virtually.

2.  Think about what you can give to others. Your engagement will drive traffic back to you.

3.  Revise or update your website: this is your professional calling card and online sales are booming

4.  Create pop up shows  especially near restaurants with outside dining. Alcohol always lubricates sales.

5.  Barter your art. Each trade is like a recommendation. Notice who connects with your work and why.

 Text and images by Patricia Frischer

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Understanding AB 2257, Follow Up Legislation to AB 5, and Its Impact on the Arts Sector

 By Patricia Frischer

Conversations about AB5 put on by Californians for the Arts  was held on Oct 7 and these notes are my attempt to report on that zoom meeting. Before I begin, here is a brief summary of the issues, many of which were referenced during the discussion. As we all know now, this has huge implications for the arts industry. Many of us have had to change our business plans and many of us were not compliant without even knowing we were not obeying the letter of the law.

The “ABC” test adopted by the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court is for determining whether workers in California should be classified as employees or as independent contractors. A worker can only be classified as an independent contractor if:

A.     the worker is free from control and direction in the performance of services; and

B.     the worker is performing work outside the usual course of the business of the hiring company; and

C.     the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.

This definition of an independent contractor is much narrower than that of the multi-factor Borello test—the standard previously used in California, which made it far easier to classify workers as independent contractors. AB5 makes the ABC Test the law in California, but it also expands its application beyond wage-order claims to all provisions under the state Labor and Unemployment Insurance codes.

AB 2257
signed by Governor Newsom on September 1, 2020 is effective immediately and includes additional exemptions and clarifications to AB 5 for arts sector from the Dynamex decision. These definitions include this one for Fine Artists: “For the purposes of this subparagraph, “fine artist” means an individual who creates works of art to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, mosaics, works of calligraphy, works of graphic art, crafts, or mixed media.” You will also find info about musicians in many circumstances, performing artists for single engagements, specialized performers teaching master classes, modification to business to business exemption, and clarification to the relationship of individuals acting as sole proprietors.

Comments were made throughout the 75-minute zoom discussion by the participants.

Julie Baker Executive Director, California Arts Advocates/Californians for the Arts was the moderator of this meeting and has been very involved with the new bill.

The arts currently face a triple problem: AB5, the pandemic and systemically underfunded in California. She noted that our priorities are safe re-opening and being second responders who are rebuilding a life worth living. She commented that being able to see the people on this panel helps to humanize this whole process of working our way through these laws. The arts appreciate the support to get more funding so that we can survive the triple threat to the health of the arts.  

Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez, 80th District, Author AB 5 and AB 2257;

Her staff really care and they are progressive and want to do their best. They want to protect workers rights to have fair pay and insurance.  But there are tough decisions for those who want to remain independent contractors. People have not been complying to the law in the past and that is hard to face now and complicates the dialogue. If you can’t pass Borello then you have no case for being an independent contractor instead of employee. However, an individual who is a Sole Proprietor who uses 1099 to file and can be exempt. Also exempt is the workshop presenter with a special master class, or a judge for a competition. An instructor who rents a space in a facility is not employee unless the space controls what is being taught.

We can look at the Business to business and Sole Proprietors exemptions first to see if can be applied. If you have your own business you can be an independent contractor. But if neither of these apply, you can look into your specific skill for examples to help you figure out what applies to you. For example, Motion picture independent video makers could be a hard category to figure out. If you have a good case, gather similar colleagues together to fight to be independent if you are not. Also, they know that groups come together and no one is in charge and they all want to contribute and share profits or Intimate Theater shows are tricky. But if you own your own work and are performing it, you are exempt. That includes clowns, mimes, magician anyone that can pass Borello.

Working with unions and getting paid sick leaves and insurance could be a bonus that comes out of these discussions.  Now could be a good time to restructure and ask for money from the state to get the arts back to work. For example, we need a payroll system for small groups to use and help them bring down the cost of their businesses.  Can the government supplement the creation of that payroll system? We should ask Governor to put some money in place for the arts?

There will be a webinar in the next few weeks to talk us through the entire bill and how to figure it out. They will try to make check lists to help, but they realize it is overwhelming. Many groups have not yet been considered and could be included in future definitions.

She is often asked about 1099s. If you are getting the 1099, you are not breaking the law. If you are issuing the 1199, then make sure you have control and direction over the person.

You can review the specific details of each section of the bill on a fact sheet by Assemblywoman Gonzalez.

Majority Leader Ian Calderon, 57th District, Principal Co-author AB 2257

Arts Funding and Arts Education were his priorities as well as social safety nets programs. As co-author of this bill, they will continue to look at the exceptions that can be made for the arts.  There are lots of compromises and lots of diverse opinions in this bill. But whenever they were able to humanize the problems and cases, they were able to make progress. The Arts as a priority was raised from dead last to the #5 spot at the top of the second column. We went from $1 million to $26 million in funding in the last years. We have 40 million people in California so this is still less than a $1 per person. We should not be 20th in rank of funding the arts. But care has to be taken as everything is about precedent, so making the bill less complicated is important. These laws will affect the future. They can’t make changes unless they know what the problems are. This will continue to be developed for years ahead.  

John Acosta President, AFM Local 47

Music Exemptions: AB 5 there is a difference between amateur and professionals. If you are professional musician, you are an employee. If you are a community-based org with no compensation to your artists, they are not employees.  There is a single engagement rule that you are still an employee if you are being directed to do a specific job. He warned that California is a magnet for talent, but as we are shut down, we start to see the cracks. This talent will move into other fields unless we can rebuild ASAP.

Sara B. Boyns, employment Attorney, Fenton & Keller.

Dynamex, then AB 5 and then Borello has made this area so confusing.   She has devises check list to see how the business model is designed. Sometimes they have to redesign their business model. This new situation is most challenging for small non-profits.  For example, the orgs that send art teachers into schools.  The non-profits are paying them, not the school district but they are employees and the small non-profits cannot cover their sick days or health insurance. She suggests using California Lawyers for the Art for advice. And remember that more than one exemption might apply. If the teacher is a registers sole proprietor with their own business, they can be independent contractors.

Understanding AB 2257: A Toolkit to Understanding the Follow Up Legislation to AB 5

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Guiding Principles and Manifestos

Kira Corser sent me this interesting email about an organization in St. Paul, Minn that has just completed a handbook for Artist Working with the Community. Springboard for the Arts impressed me with this handbook and with their guiding principles so I am stating them here. Such good words to live by if you are involved with any organization for the arts. Contact to get a copy of their handbook. 

I also listened to a conversation about how entrepreneurs need to play a deciding role in the future of our planet. A Conversation about the Changemaking Mindset We Need Now is an interview of Jacqueline Novogratz author of  Manifesto for a Moral Revolution and CEO of Acumen in conversation with Jean Case, Chair of National Geographic and CEO of the Case Foundation  My summary notes are below. 

SPRINGBOARD FOR THE ARTS GUIDING PRINCIPLES Our way of working is equally important as what we do. There are 9 key principles that drive our work. 

Artists are assets
Artists exist in every community, and art is inseparable from the communities in which it is made. Our work helps illuminate the social and economic value of art and creativity.

By artists for artists
Everyone who works at Springboard is an artist. We recognize the expertise and experience of artists and incorporate that into creating effective, relevant programs to meet artists’ needs. 

The broadest definition of who is an artist
Everyone has creative capacity and there are many different ways to be an artist. We also know that there are many kinds of success for an artist, and we help artists define success for themselves – financial success, recognition, a supportive community, respect, social change, and more. 

More is more 
We make and share tools designed to benefit as many artists as possible. We believe interconnected communities of artists create an impact in ways that single interventions do not. By freely sharing our work and creating connections among artists and communities, we work to make substantial, system-wide change. 

Equity is a precondition for vibrant communities
Beyond accessibility, our programs address systemic and structural inequities and seek to build equity, agency and power in communities, neighborhoods and systems. 

Reciprocal relationships
We seek mutual respect, trust, commitment, and reciprocity with all our partners. We don’t go it alone. We create and customize programs with partners based on mutual goals, and we invite partners to strengthen and change our work. 

Cross-sector collaborations that last
We help artists collaborate with existing resources and systems, both because there is abundant potential in those resources, and because we believe they will be strengthened by artists’ contributions. We focus on building bridges and mechanisms that help relationships continue to thrive without us. 

Boldness and creativity
Our work is characterized by optimism that change is possible, and belief that the boldness and creativity of artists can address the challenges facing our communities. We also know that in order to engage people, this movement has to be fun. 

Hospitality and welcome
We value an attitude of abundance over scarcity. Our goal is always to create an environment, real or virtual, that is welcoming to newcomers and existing partners and friends alike. Hot coffee and tea with all the fixins is something we always have available – a symbol of offering the best of what we have to our guests and our staff.

Summary Notes by Patricia Frischer from a Conversation about the Changemaking Mindset We Need Now

You can now see the entire presentation at this link.

Jacqueline Novogratz author of  Manifesto for a Moral Revolution and CEO of Acumen in conversation with Jean Case, Chair of National Geographic and CEO of the Case Foundation 

Manifesto must be based on our own passions. It should be a calling to see every human being as worth investing in. We don’t aim for win/lose. We want Win/Win.

Entrepreneurs are seekers. There powers will solve our problems. But they can’t use their conventional tools to create an ecosystem for change. Besides investment capital they need social capitol. Plus, they need the character willing to change the world to make it fully equal.

Problems in the USA are not just ideological. We can come together to solve problems of inequity, poverty, discrimination. How this happens is the subject of her book.

JUST START: People in hard places have learned you just have to start. This is a good lesson for America which was not perceived to be a hard place but is now. We must walk toward a problem with courage and see what each next step is.

LISTEN: Entrepreneurs solve problems.  But you need to listen to know what the problems actually are. You need the vision of other peoples’ eyes. Listening can be a super power. Put aside your bias and even your excitement. Find out what are the needs of those you are trying to help.

COURAGE: Changing takes courage. Speaking up takes courage. Painful decisions take courage. Standing up to bullies takes courage. It takes courage to keep going. Courage is a muscle that you need to build up. Exercise and practice courage.

Celebrate FAILURE: Face the struggle and the failures and don’t hide those. Discomfort is a part of the process. Failing early is helpful. Leverage your success by using failures as opportunities.

MANIFESTO:  Committing publicly to your principles. The template for human rights is a model.

HOLDING OPPOSING VALUES: The job of the moral leader to stand for what is positive and possible and not to tear down. Try not to go to polar extremes. Pivot to a conversation about shared values. All of us have the potential to be good and bad people. We all have the possibility of doing bad things if we are afraid or threatened. Don’t polarize an argument, but seek common ground.

MARGINALIZED PEOPLE:  Equity lens needs to be clear about who is being left out and what they need. Example: creating an app for Spanish only speakers who need to communicate with English speaking only doctors. Private sector corporations can partner with the public sector to provide needs of the community. Changing the mission from only making a profit to the more rewarding mission of serving people.

ACUMEN: We don’t choose what happens to us, but we get to choose how we respond. Challenging times are opportunities. Always look for the possible. Re-imagine partnership, technologies, business opportunities.  ACUMEN Manifesto: It’s the radical idea of creating hope in a cynical world. Changing the way the world tackles poverty and building a world based on dignity.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

San Diego + Imperial counties Regional Conversation Summary

San Diego County Regional Conversation – Aug 14, 2020

Victoria Hamilton, California for the Arts was the moderator of this conversation with about 40 participants in zoom attendance.

Matt Carney, SD Ballet and SD Regional Arts and Culture Coalition SDRACC reported on the push to educate the November candidates and public about the arts. Equity and Inclusion are priorities of the issues that will be raised.  SDRACC is organizing this in four parts: Education of candidates, an open forum, follow up with short answers to written questions and finally a survey. Elected official and the candidates for the City of San Diego are being held now, but the County Supervisors candidates will be coming soon.

Susanna Pereda Swap also representing SDRACC reported on the progress of the SD Challenge Fund with a goal stabilize the creative sector. In Phase One, 32 grants between $3000 to $10,000 totaling $250,000 were given out to moderate sized organizations with paid staff. Phase 2 will be Relief funds for critical needs of individual artists in program called #SDArtistFund with money raised from a Go Fund Me effort. BLPOC ARTISTS for black artist who are in need is part of that push.  It was suggested that a partnership with Synergy Arts Foundation who is the only local arts organization to give out grants to artist in need might be advantageous.

Jonathon Glus, SD Commission for Arts and Culture has goals including sustainability for both large and small organization but particularly for individual artist. They have $1 million for individual visual artists for acquiring art work, plus they are commissioning 18-20 artist to create art in the parks. The work force has to be supported. They are working with UCSD to do a deep dive assessment about how the orgs are pivoting and restructuring to come out leaner and stronger during the lockdown.  They are also working with the Performing Arts to find better alliances and efficiencies.

Leticia Gomez Franco also of the SD Commission for Arts and Culture spoke strongly about equity and social justice. The Commission is trying hard to be flexible for example with contract extensions and making funds available without delay. They are making assessment to look at past distributions with a priority for building community access and reducing barriers to access to funds.

Julie Baker – Californian for the Arts and American from the Arts is concentrating on arts jobs and the arts as second responder. So much money is distributed through COVID funds so she asked us how can we be of service to the health industry. How do we get recognized for seeing the contribution that the arts make to mental health? Looks for grants in social services and try to create jobs around public health issues. This is a listing of grants for non-profits: . Make connections to our elected official and make sure they know the value of the arts in supplying jobs in all sorts of fields, not just entertainment.

Jason Schmeltzer told us that in Sacramento there is a big deficit and the state government is struggling. So, we must make sure and put arts into the budget conversation or we will lose out. Stimulus money should go to small non-profits because they are small business and they help the economy.

Larry Baza from California Art Council asked how do we raise money for orgs at all levels.  Online fundraising is not as successful as we would like. CAC has a remit to serve all of California including rural areas. CAC does not want to continue administering 18 grants and instead wants to spread the money throughout the state as one of their big goals has always been to try to create a level playing field. He was very grateful to California for the Arts for its lobbying efforts for the arts. They saved the arts budget for CA. We also need federal funds to come to the state and there are none of those except the Heroes Act*.  He reminded us that CAC Administrators of Color Fellowship Program Grants are due soon.

A poll showed that the biggest percentage of those in attendance were from the non-profit sector and their biggest concern was funding. There was then lengthy discussion from the others in attendance. One of the most interesting discussions was about co-creating and co-funding to work better and smarter. This applied especially for outreach to social service organizations. Two examples were given  and Reaching out to organization that you have never partnered with was encouraged to expand funding and audiences.

The chat line also allowed us to register topics for further discussion. A Virtual Presentation Toolkit was mentioned as was the need for the capacity for a unified mailing list of arts leaders and press perhaps as part of a centralized directory and events calendar.

This presentation and live chat was recorded and will be available on at Questions can be directed to  Julie Baker, Executive Director: Californian for the Arts

* The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or HEROES Act is proposed legislation acting as a $3 trillion stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is intended to supplement the earlier CARES Act stimulus package. 

Friday, July 10, 2020

2020 Brain Candy: A Virtual Salon Series – The Curators

Vanguard Culture gathered curators to speak about how they were Dealing with the Pandemic and thoughts about the future of their exhibition spaces. You can now watch the two hour video or here are my notes from that virtual meeting. Susanna Peredo Swap was the moderator.

Megan Dickerson, Director of Exhibitions at The New Children’s Museum:
Website Link:
The New Children’s Museum deals with play as work and work as play.  Child will play anywhere. Their mission is not just to present a display but to work that display in an interactive way with the children and parents.  Megan found that you need the right people in the room for virtual events. Who is doing the story telling and how are they identified is vital. Think of museums as a collection of relationships and not a set of buildings. Go where the people are. She praised ArtReach which sent out pieces of a mural right to the kids and then brought it back to assemble it. You have to have some kayaks if you are a steamboat. There is a “stumble upon” nature of being together in a real space that we are missing.

Gaidi Finnie, Executive Director at The San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art:
Website Link:
The SDAAM of Fine Art has always had a Motivational attempt as one of the goals from the beginning and not just educational and not just one voice. The new virtual components are expanding its audience. With no bricks and mortar, the collaboration with different institutions is an advantage.  More young people are being motivated.

Christine Knoke Heitbrink, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at Mingei International Museum:
Website Link: Silver lining, they were already shut down for renovations so will be open in Spring/Summer of 2021. They are able to stay on course but will be able to add touch-free doors, anti-microbial surfaces etc. They already have people working on remote locations with pop up shows. The transformed space is their new exciting project. Art of the People will be the new theme and the permanent collection will be the main feature. They are giving voice to multiple sources and being careful to be culturally aware.

Michael Lawrence, Assistant Director for Exhibitions at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.:
Website Link:
Certain things you can plan for and others you can’t. Staff resources are paramount. Security and members services are hit hard by virus. There is a caring for co-workers. Crowd control will be difficult. Only 5 people per thousand square feet feels much like the least visited days. They are using junior staff in T-shirts instead of uniforms for security. Their audience wants guidance and information. There might be a breakdown in who that authority is and an attempt to bring in a variety of truths and voices. There is a fine line between scaring the public and enlightening them.  People are very resilient. They can be more resilient when they make connections together. The Zoom format is very democratizing.

Lauren Lockhart, Art Program Manager at San Diego International Airport:
Website Link:  
Airports are stressful and this is even a more stressful experience, so the arts are there to help eliminate that stress. The Arts are now seen as second responders. People need time to accommodate new ideas and develop them. Conceptual ideas should be encouraged. They are working more with a wider arena via the internet.

Adriana Martinez, Chief Curator at La Caja Galeria - Tijuana B.C.:
Website Link:
Zoom and other virtual technology has increased participation which are much more open because of the platforms. Art is about those conversations and now the conversations are much wider. They help to define a viewpoint and now several viewpoints are possible. Going out into the streets has become the agenda. Individuals are in the forefront instead of institutions. Social Justice is an active pursuit. Seeing people in their homes on zoom does reveal another side to us.

Andrew Ütt, Executive Director at Lux Art Institute:
Website Link:
There are dichotomies: Education vs community and Physical vs Virtual. Zoom makes us quiet as an audience as we listen in and we go straight to education.  But we don’t have that loose exchange of community communication.  Curators roles can be lessened with virtual events if we let the audience define the experience. So, the question is: How much can the audience be engaged? If you are not failing, you are not learning, so you must build in the possibility of failure. Use incremental changes and be prepared to eliminate projects that don’t work. Change encourages us to be more creative. We question more than ever. The pandemic has made us more aware that we are one family as an institution.