Culture Report: Chula Vista Mulls Cutting Its Arts Program

Arts/Culture

Culture Report: Chula Vista Mulls Cutting Its Arts Program

Tuesday night, Chula Vista City Council members will consider a budget that eliminates its cultural arts manager position.

The proposed cuts come after the city just adopted a new cultural arts master plan late last year.

Lynnette Tessitore is the city’s cultural arts manager, and her job accounts for the city’s entire cultural arts budget. Her role is to implement the city’s new plan and build a stronger arts and culture presence in Chula Vista.

In May, Chula Vista City Manager Gary Halbert presented a budget to City Council, but was asked by the three members present to return in June with a budget option that included funding to hire new firefighters.

The Chula Vista firefighters union has long been pushing City Council for more money for staffing, calling it an important public safety issue.

Leticia Cazares, chair of the city’s volunteer Cultural Arts Commission, said she understands that the city needs to hire more firefighters. But she said a federal grant the city applied for would provide funding for firefighters and could be approved as early as August. She said even if the grant doesn’t come through, she hopes City Council will consider making cuts elsewhere and keep its commitment to arts and culture in Chula Vista alive.

“We have this new plan, but could have no budget at all to make things happen,” she said. “I just think there’s a more responsible way to a long-term solution.”

Halbert said he, too, thinks the proposed cuts, which would eliminate 14 positions citywide, are too drastic.

“My recommendation to the Council is not to make the cuts and instead make some minor modifications to the budget to make sure some firefighters are hired mid-year,” he said.

Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla said he won’t back the proposed cuts, and he said it’s unlikely his colleagues will either.

“It’s an option, but it’s an absurd one,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll see any Council members embrace it. It really isn’t in line with what the Council wants to take place.”

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San Diego City Council Fends Off Big Arts Cuts

Arts advocates are claiming a tentative victory after Monday night’s budget hearing, in which the San Diego City Council restored arts funding to about $14.6 million.

Photo by Kinsee Morlan
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

That’s down just 3.5 percent from last year’s budget for the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture, which uses the majority of its money to fund over 100 local arts and culture organizations.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer originally proposed cutting the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture funding by 31 percent. Arts advocates and a few City Council members called the cuts draconian.

After the backlash, the mayor’s revised budget in May recommended about a 15 percent reduction, but arts advocates and the same City Council members said the cuts were still too drastic. 

A coalition of arts advocates have been pushing the mayor and City Council to boost arts funding to $15.5 million this year, in part, because the Council itself adopted a Penny for the Arts plan in 2012 and set higher arts funding goals that have yet to be fulfilled.

Arts funding could, however, be cut by the mayor again. Faulconer can veto changes to the budget, and the City Council needs at least six votes to override his modifications.

Some arts advocates I talked to are worried the mayor will be looking for extra money to fund the $5 million special election he’s vowed to make happen, so they aren’t ready to declare a final victory just yet.

A High-Tech Installation at the Car Rental Center, Jimmy Buffett on Broadway and Other Arts and Culture News

• The San Diego International Airport unveiled its new 1,600-foot public art installation on the exterior of the Airport Rental Car Center. An artist team called Ueberall International created the piece, which uses digital screens and a new technology to create dynamic designs and animations.

Photo courtesy of the San Diego International Airport
Photo courtesy of San Diego International Airport

• “Escape to Margaritaville” is officially heading to Broadway. (U-T)

• The public art project Parkeology has partnered with the binational arts organization Cog*nate Collective to transform Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama into an interpretive center where anyone who signs up can take a free trolley tour to the U.S.-Mexico border that uses storytelling and other creative ways to explore the border’s history. (CityBeat)

• San Diego State University is known for its furniture design program, which is why I’m not surprised by how utterly awesome these SDSU students’ chairs are. (Design Milk)

• Though many of the catchiest commercial jingles come from major brands, a few local companies have created their own poppy little earworms. Ever catch yourself singing Toyota of Escondido? Yeah, me too. A mysterious local musician who calls himself  Shades McCool has taken those sticky ditties and turned them into a live show. (Reader)

• San Diego state prison inmates were treated to a TEDx event a few weeks ago. Watch for photos and videos of the event here.

• The iconic Balboa Park Carousel is being sold to the Friends of Balboa Park. (U-T)

• Longtime San Diego arts blogger Patricia Frischer went to see the Wonderspaces exhibition I told you about last week and called the traveling show “a memorable experience of sights and sounds.”

• The U-T’s Sandra Dibble spotlights the BorderClick project, which works to “shed light on the border as experienced daily by tens of thousands of cross-border commuters.” (U-T)

• The NTC Foundation, the nonprofit that operates many of the buildings in Arts District Liberty Station, celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its Dance Place center.

• The U-T calls the Spanish Village Art Center the “hidden treasure of Balboa Park.”

• VOSD’s own Maya Srikrishnan will be playing violin in Mainly Mozart’s “San Diego Makes Music” community collaboration concert Sunday at Balboa Park.

• There’s a free dance performance happening in City Heights.

• Look at all the ladies who’ve been nominated for this year’s “New Contemporaries” exhibition organized by the San Diego Visual Arts Network. Many of the artists in the show, which opens in Barrio Logan Saturday, go on to be awarded the “emerging artist” San Diego Art Prize.

• Civic Youth Orchestra turns 60 this month. (U-T)

• A controversial mural in Encinitas is being replaced with a new mural by the same artist, but the artist says it has nothing to do with complaints. (The Coast News Group)

• The San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Jewish Arts Festival is under way, and so is the annual Mainly Mozart Festival.

• Artist Melissa Walter is the new artist in residence at the 1805 Gallery in Little Italy.

• An exhibition that asks artists to explore climate change is opening at the San Diego Central Library this week.

• The annual San Diego Festival of the Arts is this weekend.

Food, Beer and Booze News

• San Diego Magazine says these are the best restaurants of the year. Yelp, though, has a totally different list of the region’s best eateries.

• Assemblyman Todd Gloria gave Mariposa Homemade Ice Cream some props.

Eater has the scoop on a North Park taco swap.

• Y’all can start swinging by my neck of the woods for good pastries again.

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at kinsee@vosd.org. Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link.

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