The arts have an incredible ability to connect us, enrich our lives, inspire us and entice emotion, but as LEAD San Diego’s IMPACT cohort recently discussed, arts and culture provide much more than simple enjoyment.
“It’s not just about entertainment and leisure,” said Dalouge Smith, President and CEO of the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory. He suggested San Diego’s arts and culture community is about much more – community identity, neighborhood cohesion, creativity, education, sustainability, redevelopment and economic activity.
Through the session’s presenters – which included representatives from San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Man, Museum of Photographic Arts, Balboa Park Celebration EDGE 2015, the City of San Diego and the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership – the cohort learned the true contribution arts and culture organizations provide to our community. The group heard about how local museums serve our community through environmental sustainability efforts; how artist districts can act as seeds for redeveloping communities; and how our vibrant arts and culture community stimulates more than $170 million in spending and supports a workforce of nearly 6,000 individuals.
Having relished the few art history classes my coursework would allow in college, this idea reminded me of the framework through which I had studied – what a culture’s artwork said about its values and way of life.
As we spoke about the 2015 Centennial Celebration of Balboa Park, the center of cultural life in our region, I began to wonder what San Diegans in 2115 would learn from the arts we create today. Would they see the revitalization in our communities, the diversity of our neighborhoods and the pride San Diegans have for their city?
Creating a lasting arts and culture legacy isn’t just the responsibility of art patrons, it’s up to all San Diegans to foster the opportunities this community brings to our region. With more than 1,120 volunteer board positions and 11,600 arts and culture volunteer opportunities in San Diego, there’s no shortage of ways to get involved. So find what moves you, get involved and help shape the impact of San Diego’s arts and culture for future generations.