OCEANSIDE — Arts leaders from six North County cities met to discuss efforts to enhance and promote regional arts.
Daniel Foster, Oceanside Museum of Arts executive director, described the results of the April 1 panel discussion as a call to action to form a regional arts council.
“The time is right to get ourselves in the same room together, and build a common agenda,” Foster said.
The first steps toward regional efforts began that evening.
The panel consisted of Encinitas city arts administrator Jim Gilliam, Carlsbad Cannon Art Gallery city curator of exhibitions Karen McGuire, Vista Civic Gallery director and public art commissioner Joyce Pekala, California State University San Marcos community liaison Marilyn Huerta, Escondido Arts Partnership executive director Wendy Wilson, and Oceanside Star Theatre president Bill Ims.
Each panel member shared what was happening in the arts within their city, and aspirations they had for the region.
Topics ranged from city galleries, concert series and a hoped-for arts center in Encinitas, to public sculptures and decorated utility box programs in Vista, to severe funding cuts in Escondido.
Funding was described as an obstacle for all cities.
“Individual organizations are struggling greatly,” Foster said.
All speakers shared the vision that more could be accomplished together.
“We need more collaboration between North County cities,” Gilliam said. “We’re swallowed up by what we’re doing in our own towns. We’re lacking regional assets.”
“We need an overall marketing umbrella,” Pekala said. “People are missing out, not knowing what’s happening.”
The meeting concluded with panel members agreeing to meet quarterly.
Foster said he hopes that upcoming meetings will develop leadership, and identify funding to form a regional arts council.
Foster said it’s time for North County cities to think beyond their boundaries and hone resources as an arts region.
“We have common needs and values,” Foster said. “The projects became obvious. It all starts with getting together for face-to-face dialogue.”
Foster said arts patrons often head to San Diego, when there are arts offerings right here in North County.
He added connecting to that audience would help regional arts thrive.
“I’m tired of hearing serious art patrons say they’re going downtown to find arts,” Foster said. “We have outstanding offerings of our own, the community is unaware of. With the appropriate support and engagement, the arts community would flurish and the arts partrons would be happy.”
The discussed benefits of North County cities working together are improved quality of life and increased economic prosperity.
Foster said quality of life benefits are easy to recognize, but people sometimes overlook the impact arts have on businesses locating to the region.
He said a North County arts council would provide common ground to work together.
Foster added it is challenging to raise money for arts infrastructure.
“Putting money into infrastructure, capacity building, leadership development, these are ideas that are harder to get money for,” Foster said.
Foster said the timing is right, and the will is there, to establish a North County arts council within two years.