CARLSBAD — Over the next two years, the City of Carlsbad is moving toward establishing the Village and Barrio neighborhoods as a special district showcasing arts and culture, celebrating the area’s heritage and creative enterprises, according to a recent release.
During its Oct. 12 meeting, the Carlsbad City Council Council voted to expand the plan, which was initially approved as a special arts district on State Street in The Village, to include both Barrio and Village neighborhoods and to have the district officially designated a California Cultural District.
The council also approved amending the Village and Barrio Master Plan to feature and support a creative sector and cultural district.
“I’m also excited about the arts,” Councilman Peder Norby said. “I think it defines a community.”
Richard Schultz, Carlsbad’s cultural arts manager, said the plan for the arts and cultural district aligns with a national emphasis among cities on “creative placemaking” – a concept that integrates arts, culture and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by creating partnerships across sectors, according to a release.
Schultz told The Coast News his team began researching the California Cultural District program over the past year and learned there have been 14 designated cultural districts in the state, including Oceanside and San Diego’s Barrio Logan and Balboa Park.
Schultz’s said his team’s initial research looked at traditional arts, such as theaters and galleries, but then looked at the Village and Barrio in a more holistic way. The businesses in those neighborhoods mostly fall under the “creative sector,” ranging from furniture makers and video games to glass blowing and marketing companies.
“The heart of their inspiration is creativity,” Schultz said of the many businesses. “As we talked it through more … we want to be inclusive and find a way to activate all of those as part of this effort. That’s where the idea grew and expanded to be more inclusive to include the Village and Barrio.”
According to Schultz, the city’s actions align with revisions of the city’s Village and Barrio Master Plan and Arts and Culture Master Plan, which was approved in 2018.
“The Village & Barrio Master Plan already calls for creating public spaces for activities like public art and visual and performing arts, so amending it to include a new cultural district would be a natural fit,” Schultz wrote in a statement.
The council’s approval also allows Schultz and Suzanne Smithson, the library and cultural arts director, to explore and formalize how to achieve designation and create an identity for the two neighborhoods.
As for the California Cultural District program, Gary Barberio, deputy city manager of community services, said the city would prepare and apply once the state restarts the program. But first, city staff must get the policy into the Village and Barrio Master Plan.
Schultz said staff will return by next June after the budget is approved with a more specific proposal and cost estimates.
“We want a creative sector and cultural arts with creativity as the through-line,” Schultz said.