What does a new employee do when Mayor Bob Filner sets an “ambitious agenda” for her post? I met with Denise Montgomery, the incoming head of the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture, to find out.
She is taking the helm of an organization that’s only had one leader, Victoria Hamilton, since it was started in the 1980s. It’s been a powerful agency, allocating hotel-room taxes to organizations and festivals based on their size, impact and audience, and directing the city’s public art collection.
The City Council agreed last year to aggressively increase the commission’s funding over the next five years, but Filner’s first budget didn’t meet the target for the first year. He increased funding over last year’s budget by $1.6 million — still far short of the $3.7 million addition called for in the Penny for the Arts plan.
Montgomery seemed unfazed a few weeks before taking her post on June 12. She has some ideas up her sleeve about pushing for more free neighborhood concerts and events, and mapping out the city’s cultural assets. She thinks the city could be home to the biggest Dia del Niño, a celebration of children that originated in Mexico, in the United States.