Oceanside looks for ways to boost arts spending (2024)

OCEANSIDEOCEANSIDE—Oceanside spends a fraction of what several other local cities spend on public arts programs, but volunteers, city staffers and consultants are working to change that.

North County’s largest coastal community budgets an average of 14 cents per person on the arts, compared to $4.59 per capita in San Diego and $10.17 per capita in Carlsbad, according to a report the Oceanside Arts Commission prepared earlier this year.

“We don’t have the deepest pockets,” said Ann Worth, who chairs the Arts Commission. Her group gets $25,000 annually that in recent years it has distributed in $5,000 grants to various community arts programs.

“We’re not expecting some kind of dramatic shift,” Worth said Wednesday. “We just want to understand what resources there might be and what we could use them for.”

The Arts Commission and the City Council recently launched a year-long series of community meetings, studies and other activities to create Oceanside’s first arts master plan, which will set guidelines for where more money for the arts could come from and what sort of projects it might be spent on. The city hired The Cultural Planning Group of Los Angeles for $46,000 to spearhead the project.

“A master plan is not cheap,” said Sherri Cosby, Oceanside library director. However, having one in place would set some goals for arts programs in the city and help obtain grants and donations for them.

“It all comes down to the City Council and their priorities,” Cosby said. “Public safety is always going to be a high priority … and things like parks and recreation … and we are all vying for the same pot of money.”

Oceanside slashed its funding for the arts after the Great Recession hit about 2009, she said, and most of that money has never been restored to the budget.

Other groups such as the Oceanside Cultural Arts Foundation raise money for special events such as the annual Days of Art, a city film festival and a music festival. Also, the Oceanside Museum of Art, which occupies the expanded former Oceanside City Hall on Pier View Way, has an annual budget of nearly $1 million, nearly all from private contributions and grants. But those groups get no annual funding from the city.

Carlsbad, Oceanside’s neighbor to the south, has a long had a healthier bottom line in its general fund because of the flow of tax revenue from its shopping malls and Car Country Carlsbad, and it has a history of digging into its pockets to support the arts.

Carlsbad created its arts master plan in the 1990s, and is now working on a new Arts & Culture Plan to renew the city’s priorities for arts and culture for the next 10 years.

Carlsbad spent more than $1 million on cultural arts programs in fiscal 2015-16, according to documents provided by the city. The money went for visual and performing arts programs, education, and cultural events.

One of the city’s most popular arts programs is the free summer TGIF Concerts, formerly called Jazz in the Parks. The series of concerts by popular groups is held each Friday evening in various community parks across the city for nine weeks.

This summer’s first concert recently attracted 3,000 people to Stagecoach Park, said Richard Shultz, the city’s cultural arts manager.

“One of the audience members described it to me as a big block party,” Shultz said. “It’s a 32-year tradition.”

City Council members made a financial commitment to the arts years ago, and renew it year after year, he said.

“We have their support as a priority and a core value of the community,” Shultz said. “Across the county, arts are based on community support.”

Oceanside’s Arts Commission, formed in 1991, has helped bring a number of public art pieces to the city. Among them are a surfer sculpture near the railroad underpass at Pier View Way, historical signs near Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, and a statue on the southern end of the city near the railroad tracks.

The proposed arts master plan could lead to more.

“The goal of the master plan is really to develop a road map that the city can implement,” Worth said. “It is critical that we look for opportunities to increase funding.”

An initial draft of the plan is expected to be presented to the City Council next April and, after public comments and revisions, could be approved later next year.


Twitter: @phildiehl

Oceanside looks for ways to boost arts spending (2024)


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