Creative Capital, a long-range plan for the development of arts and culture in Santa Monica — a city where 90 percent of its residents think it’s important to have art in public places in the city — was unanimously approved by the Santa Monica City Council at its meeting Tuesday, February 27th.
Jessica Cusick, the city’s cultural affairs manager, says the plan gives the city a “framework” and ways to realize its vision — that arts and culture are woven into every aspect of daily life in Santa Monica.
“It’s a communal vision and gives us direction,” Cusick says of the Creative Capital plan. “It’s not intended to be rigid. These are the articulated priorities in the cultural life of the community.”
For the past year, the city’s Cultural Affairs Division has worked with planning experts to “engage Santa Monica residents and discover their collective vision for the future of the arts and culture in Santa Monica,” said Cusick.
There was extensive community outreach, input and review, including four public hearings held by the Santa Monica Arts Commission and 14 public meetings and topic-oriented workshops in which over 200 people participated, said Cusick.
“It was an amazing public process,” said Cusick.
The plan uses three comprehensive strategies for fulfilling the community’s “cultural vision” and fostering an even greater cultural opportunity:
— celebrating innovation,
— increasing cultural participation, and
— enhancing sustainability.
It also includes 30 detailed recommendations.
“It really boils down to three simple ideas,” said Cusick. “How to retain what we have, sustain them [residents] in enabling them to continue to live, work, create and produce in Santa Monica, and third, how do we really ensure that there are more opportunities for our residents to interact with our arts?”
Creative Capital will help ensure that culture will continue to play a vital role in sustaining the “unique community” of Santa Monica, said Cusick.
Implementation of Creative Capital will take place over the next ten years, as resources become available. However, implementation of many of the recommendations is intended to begin within the first three years.
Implementation will require the participation of the city and community partners, as well as public and private resources, said Cusick.
Cusick says there is a great deal of consensus behind this plan.
“The community in general found that this idea of a creative identity really resonated with them,” she said. “This history of being a haven of artists was inextricably tied to what made Santa Monica unique, special, the place they wanted to live and be.
“Here, we in Santa Monica, have this amazing concentration of creative individuals, the largest in the country [per capita].”
Over 30 members of the public spoke in favor of the plan at the council meeting, including art gallery owners, members of the Santa Monica Arts Commission, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and the music and visual arts communities.
“I’m very excited to see the implementation of this plan so we can get started tomorrow,” said Phyllis Green, former chair of the Santa Monica Arts Commission.
Dave Goldberg, former vice president and general manager of Yahoo! Music, based in Santa Monica, said he thinks the plan is great.
“This plan is beneficial,” he said. “I urge you to support the plan.”
Goldberg also encouraged the council and staff to find ways to get businesses more involved in the arts community.
“This opportunity before you is like a golden opportunity,” said Santa Monica Arts Commission member Donna Sternberg, who added that the innovative plan “creates an entire new vision” for the city.
William Turner, who owns the William Turner Gallery at Bergamot Station, called the plan “fantastic.”
“I thought it was inspired and inspiring,” Turner said. “I urge you to adopt it.”
Mayor Richard Bloom said he was impressed with the “great deal of consensus from a community that thinks and speaks in many colors and disciplines.”
“This report rocks,” said Councilman Kevin McKeown. “It’s just incredible.”
Research conducted for Creative Capital revealed that 43 percent of Santa Monica’s adult population make part — or all — of their living in an arts-related field, and McKeown said he thought that demographic shift was “astonishing.”
“Santa Monica is unique in that it apparently has the largest concentration of creative professionals in the United States,” said Cultural + Planning Group consultant David Plettner, who developed the Creative Capital plan. “In the many communities we studied, Santa Monica is the only place where we are able to say this and build a cultural plan around it.”
Information, www.santa-moni ca.org/creativesantamonica