The Coast News Group

Meeting collects regional input for Arts Master Plan

OCEANSIDE — Area artists came together to brainstorm how the arts can be used as an economic driver for Oceanside. The town hall think tank was an initial step to create a Master Plan for the Arts that is “owned” by the community and city.

The discussion on Sept. 14 was led by the Oceanside Public Library, which oversees the city Arts Commission and includes implementing the arts in its own strategic plan.

“As the cultural heart of the community the Oceanside Public Library partners with arts and cultural organizations throughout the city,” CJ Di Mento, city principal librarian and Arts Commission liaison, said. “Its strategic plan is devoted to encouraging the success and collaborations of these groups.”

Regional artists, arts organizations board members, artisans, creative professionals and arts educators gathered in small groups to share ideas on public art, art tourism, artists’ needs, cultural equity and resources. The Cultural Planning Group helped facilitate the process, and steering committee members kept small group discussions on track.

Prompts ranged from “What are the strengths of Oceanside’s arts and culture?” to “What would it take to strengthen arts-based tourism?”

“The purpose is to stimulate arts community participation, dialogue and creative thinking,” Di Mento said. “We will be asking participants to discuss what makes Oceanside unique compared to other communities and what an ideal arts and cultural environment in Oceanside would look like.”

Those present acknowledged the city has numerous distinct neighborhoods and cultures to recognize through the arts.

Shared ideas included create an arts master calendar and list of available arts venues, increase public art and street music and build a relationship with mass transit to bring in arts visitors.

Discussion moderators described participation as “unusually animated” and “something of a moment.”

Developing an Arts Master Plan complements another recent step forward Oceanside has made in promoting the arts. Its core downtown was named one of 14 California Cultural Districts this summer.

The city’s Cultural District includes Artist Alley, Star Theatre, Linksoul workspace and gallery, Oceanside Public Library, California Surf Museum, The Arcade tattoo shop, Local Tap House restaurant and bar, MainStreet Oceanside, Oceanside Pier and the beach amphitheater.

The goal of state Cultural District recognition is to leverage artistic and cultural assets, grow and sustain grassroots arts and cultural opportunities, increase the visibility of local artists and community participation in local arts and promote socioeconomic and ethnic diversity.