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A totem pole made out of fiberglass marbles and tumbled stones a Queen Califa's Magical Circle in Escondido. Courtesy photo
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Center for the Arts, volunteer art commission consider merger proposal

ESCONDIDO — The city of Escondido Public Art Commission, a volunteer group which meets quarterly to make decisions around public art, may combine operations with the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, according to an April 9 announcement by Assistant City Manager Jay Petrek.

The proposed merger is part of a continued arts initiative by Mayor Paul McNamara and several council members.

“It kind of falls into sync with, if you will, with the focus that the Center for the Arts has with regards to the visual arts program that they have, the museum program, as well as the art that they have on campus,” Petrek said.

Located near Escondido City Hall, the Center for the Arts — which opened for business 25 years ago — already receives about half of its annual revenues from fees paid by the city of Escondido.

Escondido’s five-year management agreement with the Center for the Arts will expire in October.

Petrek said this is a perfect opportunity to strike a new deal, helping grow the arts in Escondido by combining efforts and resources between city staff and board members at Center for the Arts.

“So, (both parties are) open to that idea, but we haven’t put anything in writing yet,” said Petrek. “As far as who would do what and what those responsibilities would be” has yet to be determined.

Public Art Commission member Marty Tiedeman expressed excitement following Petrek’s presentation of the proposal.

“I think it will just really enhance the whole recognition of the fact that we’re all working towards the same goal in the art world,” Tiedeman said. “And everything you’ve said, without working out all of the details of it, would be outstanding. I’ve always hoped for something like that … I’m very on-board and very excited with the merger.”

For the time being, however, the commission will remain in tow until details work themselves out in negotiations between the city and Center for the Arts.

“It will stay a commission until otherwise noted, I will say, until the council decides they have another direction for staff,” Petrek said.

At the meeting, the Public Art Commission also discussed the potential creation of a mural program in downtown Escondido, mirroring projects in La Jolla, Carlsbad, Oceanside and Encinitas.

Tiedeman argued that such a program, facilitated by city ordinances amenable to creating such murals would help make downtown Escondido a place worthy of visitation and calling a home.

The Public Art Commission is scheduled to meet again in July.