- Reporters Desk
SAN PEDRO — On July 13, the California Arts Council announced that the San Pedro Waterfront Arts District will be among 14 districts serving as the state’s premier designated cultural arts districts. This is the first year that the council has voted to designate cultural arts districts. These districts will highlight thriving cultural diversity and unique artistic identities within local communities across the state.
“We think it’s a natural progression from where we started in 2009 to grow into a state designated cultural district,” said Linda Grimes, managing director of the San Pedro Waterfront Arts District. “This has been a fabulous collaboration. I am grateful to all the partners involved, as well as all of the galleries and artists.”
The San Pedro Arts, Culture and Entertainment district which was the precursor to the current non-profit arts district was originally funded with a $500,000 grant from the City of Los Angeles and was formed in 2003 with the vision and leadership of James Preston Allen, the publisher of Random Lengths News in collaboration with the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and the cooperation of the arts community. Allen, who is no longer with the Arts District, congratulated the current leadership on this milestone accomplishment.
“It is a move in the right direction to attain the kind of recognition the artists in this community surely deserve,” Allen said.
This designation also comes at a time that is pivotal for the downtown San Pedro historic arts district that has struggled for years to retain its historic and cultural assets against increasing pressure to gentrify and balance new development while retaining its core cultural assets and maintain a vibrant arts community.
The districts were selected with variety in mind, to help tailor the program. Districts range developmentally from emerging to established; include an emphasis on cultural consumption, production and heritage. They are in urban, suburban and rural areas.
The selection for the California Cultural Districts was conducted through open call for initial letters of intent, a peer panel review, site visits for semi-finalists and an invited finalist application.
“Our goal with the pilot launch of this new program was to support a group of districts that met high but broad standards of coherence — ones that could set an example for districts that will follow as the program develops and grows.”
Each of the districts will receive the designation for five years, per state legislation. Designation includes benefits such as technical assistance, peer-to-pee exchanges, and branding materials and promotional strategy. The council has partnered with Visit California and Caltrans for strategic statewide marketing and resource support.
Districts will unify under an umbrella of shared values: helping to grow and sustain authentic grassroots arts and cultural opportunities, increasing the visibility of local artists and community participation in local arts and culture, and promoting socioeconomic and ethnic diversity. Districts also will play a conscious role in tackling issues of artist displacement.
Pilot cohort districts will offer feedback to the council to ensure the subsequent launch of the full program in 2019 will be supportive and accessible for all types of cultural centers.
Learn more about the program at www.caculturaldistricts.org.