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Arts & Culture in San Diego: Will You Join the Party?

The transformative power of art has long been known to people whose lives have been touched by it, but the ability of arts and culture to transform not only individuals, but communities at large hasn’t been given nearly as much attention.  This was the focus of a recent LEAD San Diego IMPACT session, and Councilman Todd Gloria beautifully captured the theme of the day.

“Art is not elective … it’s essential to a vibrant city,” said Gloria.

Gloria — along with other speakers, many from Balboa Park’s museums and other institutions — spoke about our city’s arts and culture offerings, and about the upcoming 2015 Balboa Park centennial celebration.

With a mission to “Celebrate a ‘year of creativity’ that brings together innovative experiences with art, culture, nature, technology and science,” the celebration is aimed at reinvigorating and elevating the park for San Diegans and visitors alike.  While specifics are under development, enthusiasm for the event is palatable, and you can’t help but feel the celebration will be something big; something defining not only for the park, but also for us as San Diegans.

“2015 is going to be the coming out party for San Diego’s creative class,” said developer David Malmuth, whose vision for arts and culture stems well beyond park boundaries.

In addition to discussing the park, Malmuth spoke to the cohort about his vision of merging art, culture, commerce and place with the I.D.E.A. district, a mixed-use district driven by a Design jobs cluster, nourished by Education, enriched by the Arts and focused on Innovation. In addition to creating “more ideas per square foot,” Malmuth says the district will not only inspire creativity, but spur economic development.

Whether talking about the upcoming Balboa Park centennial, the I.D.E.A. district or a particular museum exhibition, IMPACT attendees couldn’t helped but be moved. After all, being a San Diegan is about more than where we live and work. It’s about where we play and enjoy our lives. It’s about where our interests lie and where our sense of curiosity and wonder can be sparked, and arts and culture make San Diego what it is today.

With this perspective in mind, the message to current and future leaders is clear: advocating for arts and culture shouldn’t be something left to the “arts community” alone, but rather something we all support. And, with 2015 just around the corner, I can’t help but ask, will you join the party?

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