Patricia by Patricia

Patricia by Patricia
Patricia by Patricia

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

State of the Arts 2024

There are environmental disasters, financial uncertainty with high inflation, post COVID impact and ongoing wars in the Ukraine and Israel/Palestine as well as a controversial upcoming election.  Is CRISIS also the defining word of the state of the arts? 

In San Diego, we have two fabulous new developments. The county came together to produce the first county wide AEP6 Arts and Economic Prosperity report (joint public presentation of results on Thurs. Jan 25, 10 – 12:30 at MOPA) and the county supervisors approved the formation of a new Commission of Arts and Culture which is well on its way to producing a strategic plan. 

There are funds coming to the arts in San Diego. Prebys Foundation awarded almost  $10.5 Million in Grants to Advance the Visual and Performing Arts throughout San Diego County! This includes $50k for our friends at the San Diego Guild of Puppetry and a whopping $150k for Space 4 Art and a giant $300k to the Woman’s Museum of California. Hurrah!  We look forward to seeing collaborations between Prebys Foundation and the newly formed SD County Commission for Arts and Culture.  Other awards went to San Diego Museum of Art $750k, Balboa Park Online Collaborative $619,856, Mingei International Museum $150k California Center For The Arts, Escondido $450k, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego $300k,  San Diego History Center $350k La Jolla Historical Society $56,700, Studio ACE $25k, The New Children's Museum $235k and  Vanguard Culture $50k  

The California Arts Council awarded 68 grants in the county of San Diego totaling $2,224,700. Some of the big winners in visual arts are: The Aja Project $81,250, Artreach $74,501, The City Of San Diego Commission For Arts And Culture $66,600 (State/Local Partnership Grant), Arthatch $51k, San Diego Museum Council Inc $50k, Escondido Arts Partnership $42k Vanguard Culture $42k, California Center For The Arts Escondido Foundation $25k, A Reason To Survive $21,250, The Veterans Art Project $21,250, Art Produce $14k. These are a combination of impact grants and general operating expense grants. 

In the 2022-23 fiscal year, the City of San Diego TOT (tax on tourist) revenue totaled $256.7 million. Arts funding was $14.3 million, i.e. 5.59% of the total. But budgets cuts meant that 2023-24 fiscal year was only 4.67% of TOT revenue. A resolution in December of this year encourages Todd Gloria to increase funding for the arts to 9.52% in each budget in order to meet the Penny for the Arts goal set in 2017. This was reported by KPBS.

We learned from AEP6 that San Diego County’s nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $1.3 billion industry (up from $1.1 billion in 2015)—one that supports 19,771 jobs (way down from 35,914 in 2015) and generates $320.7 million (less than half of the $894.4 million in 2015) in local, state, and federal government revenue. We know that there will be a huge call for art teachers coming up with the passage of CA Prop 28 and hope that the audience will return to the arts in 2024 and boast the job number and revenue. Read the SDVAN report: Not a Nicety, a Necessity: The Arts & Economic Prosperity Report AEP6.

This all bodes very well for San Diego, but we still locally have a duty to wider concerns. This year’s state of the arts reflects opinion shared in a Z√≥calo Public Square forum Arts in Times of Crises: The Role of Artists in Weakened Democracies on 1. the role of artists as activists and 2. how arts institutions navigate the culture wars.

The Role of the Artists as Activists was moderated by Karen Mack, Founder and Executive Director, LA Commons with performance/installation artist Suzanne Lacy and photographer Catherine Opie.

·       It was recognized that although artist have limited power compared to movie and social media, artists are able to walk between worlds and are always tasked in truth telling.  

·       Not everyone is an activist, but art can be a more subtle expression than a public protest.

·       Some artists are drawn to communities, others need isolation to create but both are able to open up people to accepting an uncomfortable ideal.

·       Many younger artists do need to learn how to make coalitions which can strengthen the impact of their work.

·       We should remember that artists are actually philanthropist every time they give their art away to a worthy cause.

·       Artists need to protect themselves from the onslaught of world events in order to make time to create their work, but every artist has a duty to vote.

How Should Arts Institutions Navigate the Culture Wars? was moderated by Kristine Sadoka – LA County Department of Arts and Culture with panelist MOCA director Johanna Burton, Center Theatre Group artistic director Snehal Desai, former Oregon Shakespeare Festival executive artistic director Nataki Garrett, and Whitney Museum director emeritus Adam D. Weinberg. The discussion was broken down into three main categories: the power of arts and culture, the weaponizing of culture and arts for human healing.  

Power of arts and culture
The arts are a great connecter of people. Artist are outsiders as well as insiders.

·       They identify self and can relate that to other individuals, to local communities and even wider civic spaces.

·       Everyone can make space for artist you believe in, so seek out artist who are storying telling to an underserved and vulnerable community.

·       Our first institution is our home. That is where community begins.  You can build within your home and let that spread as an education for all if you start listening to other.

·       Bridging means creating sense of belonging with shared ownership and an invitation so everyone feels they deserve to be there.

·       Try to make sure people see themselves reflected in the presentations, events, workshop, projects.  

Weaponization of Culture
Culture Wars means someone is a winner and someone is a loser. This is a bad model. Both sides need to win.

·       Institutions are re-organizing themselves. The question is should they try to fix what is wrong or tear down and start again.  Each organization is different, so preconceived solutions might not work. Is your vision really agreed on?

·       To build community, you must combine not separate, eliminate division but encourage varied thinking.

·       You must really know your funders, staff, board individually and create allies. Sometimes this is not a group effort, but an individual one. Be comfortable with conflict.

·       If you hire lots of women and culturally diverse administrators to clean up and make changes they need to be supported. If they succeed, they should be rewarded and recognized.

·       The first thing that is weaponize is the language: Woke  is the word instead of Visionary

·       Artists’ freedoms are always under threat as it is easier to attack culture than build culture.

·       Audience sometimes don’t want to be challenged. With 35% less attendance…the challenge is how do you bring audiences back. You can’t charge more as those who can’t afford it are left out

·       Recognize that the pandemic changed things as everyone was vulnerable. We shared our fears. We are identifying the when to compromise and when to draw the line. We know this is a long game, maybe more than 5 years, and change is always cyclical.


Arts for human healing
Culture provides a public place for discussion. We gather for communal experiences. We look to government for support

·       People are engaged in arts all over the world and in all sorts of ways. They are activated by social problems and arts are central to the solutions

·       Coalition building occurs outside of institution and into the community.

·       All Americans are still struggling with the identity of being an American and artists have insight into those surprising uncontrollable questions of ethics and beliefs.

·       Artists need to be valued and rewarded more in this role.


  1. Patricia, thank you for accumulating and providing this valuable arts and community information. "Culture provides a public place for discussion." What you do is encapsulated in that closing statement. Again, thank you. Catherine Ruane

    1. This collection that you put together. Patricia is amazing all this information is so important and valuable now as the art are changing and San Diego) and we need to work together to collaboratively build on research, experience, and creativity. Thank you so much for all you do! Kira

    2. Thanks to both of your for the feedback and the kind words.


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