The North County Arts Network has been chugging along since the start of 2015 as a grassroots effort led by arts organizations in Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, Carlsbad, San Marcos and other communities in northern San Diego County.
Before the group sprang up, North County’s arts community was isolated and the organizations were even somewhat competitive, said Daniel Foster, the former executive director of the Oceanside Museum of Art and one of the group’s leaders. Now various organizations are working together, looking at how they can share resources, collectively brand themselves, go after funding sources and ultimately strengthen the North County arts scene.
“The cultural affluence in North County is strong,” Foster said. “But most of that money leaves North County and filters into downtown and La Jolla. Most of the arts organizations located here are under-funded in my opinion.”
So far, the North County Arts Network has been an all volunteer-led effort with zero funding. But in 2016, Foster said the group will get serious. It’ll be applying for nonprofit status, working to secure grants and other revenue streams and otherwise becoming more official.
“We’re starting to spin wildly and strongly into an organization with a pretty ambitious mission and vision,” he said. “Committees are forming and very tangible projects are coming up, like developing a website to promote all the arts events happening in the North County.”
If all goes according to plan, the North County Arts Network will become what people in the art world call an arts council, a quasi-governmental nonprofit that works to promote the arts in a certain region. The state’s arts council, the California Arts Council, has a State-Local Partnership Program that provides up to $28,000 annually of funding to regional arts councils that are officially recognized and designated by a county board of supervisors.