San Diego is falling behind other large metropolitan cities in planning for arts and culture in the future, city leaders say, and so the time is right for what they are calling “The Creative City” to come to San Diego.
Looking to strategically bring to light to arts and culture through every community in San Diego, the city has hired locally based Cultural Planning Group, LLC, for $350,000 over the next 18 months to help it guide future arts and culture investments throughout the city.
The effort begins this winter, with stakeholder and public engagement set for spring 2023, and will include pop-up events, public forums and survey opportunities.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria says The Creative City is San Diego’s first-ever comprehensive cultural plan.
“We are behind other large metropolitan cities in planning in this way and we have seen in other large American cities the successes that come out of this planning,” said Jonathan Glus, executive director for the Arts and Culture for the City of San Diego.
“The mayor’s priorities will be to look at this through the lens of equity and opportunity for San Diegans to actually engage in public discussion about the city’s investments in arts and culture in way we’ve never done it before. Community members will have the opportunity to say how we invest in and advance arts, culture, creativity and most importantly, how they define all of that.”
Glus said it’s important that city officials don’t make assumptions and hear from the community.
“Then, our elected officials will be able to make policy decision based on community voice,” he said.
Cultural Planning Group, LLC, is no stranger to San Diego. The company has offices in Florida and Pennsylvania, but its West Coast headquarters are in San Diego. Cultural Planning Group, LLC, has worked with the City of Oceanside on its Arts Master Plan, created an arts education vision plan for the San Diego Unified School District and worked on art plans for The San Diego Foundation.
The consulting firm will help facilitate the cultural planning process, resulting in a 7- to 10-year policy and planning framework that aligns the city’s cultural investments with larger priorities of San Diego communities. The core value for the initiative is equity, with a guiding principle of racial, cultural, economic and geographic inclusion throughout the process.
‘Exciting Time for San Diego’
The Creative City will also help advance San Diego’s strategic plan and other master planning goals.
“This is an exciting time for San Diego, a first-ever opportunity to embark on a transformational initiative for the way we see arts and culture within our planning and investment strategies,” Gloria said. “During the planning process, we will look to all San Diegans to tell us what matters to form The Creative City plan to advance San Diego as a vibrant artistic practice, creativity and collaboration environment.”
The framework for The Creative City will focus on critical areas like artist and creative workforce development and retention; neighborhood creative hubs; arts marketing; cultural tourism; and collective impact strategies for regional arts philanthropy.
In April, Gloria announced The Creative City “as a new effort to engage communities on how the city should invest in arts in culture across San Diego in efforts to improve neighborhoods, boost the economy and enhance San Diego’s quality of life.”
Glus said keeping San Diego competitive in arts and culture is important for many reasons. One of the concerns about other cities being ahead of San Diego in investing in creative industries means that creative types will leave the region and take their families with them, he said.
“We’re looking at this through the lens of keeping us competitive but at the same time we need to make sure we are investing in every neighborhood in the city,” Glus said.
Examples Glus gave included adding creative hubs in neighborhoods, building technology hubs around the city; bringing new life into San Diego’s robust park system and libraries. “We can further enhance these incredible city assets by intentionally bringing arts training to facilities across the city,” he said.
The Creative City got underway in June and is expected to conclude in 2024, when the San Diego-Tijuana World Design Capital 2024 takes place. The event will bring together civic leaders, activists and designers in multiple disciplines to address the region’s most pressing challenges.
It will be a year-long series of public events, conferences, policy summits, workshops and more to accelerate the exchange of ideas and create opportunity for collaboration in all the diverse communities in the San Diego-Tijuana region.
“It’s a really exciting time citywide to be thinking differently about the power of creativity in our city,” Glus said.
Cultural Planning Group, LLC
PARTNERS: Martin Cohen, Linda Flynn, David Plettner-Saunders
HEADQUARTERS: California, Pennsylvania, Florida
BUSINESS: Collaborative cultural district planning, creative economy planning, strategic planning
EMPLOYEES: Three plus associates for specific projects
SOCIAL IMPACT: Company says, “We believe every community and person has the right to choose their own creative life. We view successful arts planning as fully understanding and reflecting a community’s vision and values.”
NOTABLE: Among other clients, the firm previously worked with the city of Oceanside on its Arts Master Plan. It has facilitated other relevant local projects, notably an arts education vision plan for the San Diego Unified School District and past arts plans for The San Diego Foundation.