SAN DIEGO — The public arts forum at the Recital Hall in Balboa Park was a vivid, sometimes comic example in microcosm of what the City of San Diego's public arts program could be providing.
About 60 writers, musicians, actors, directors, painters, crafts people and other artists attended Wednesday night.
A number of these meetings have been held over the past decade. This one was a chance for anyone to stand up and say what should be part of the city's arts program. Wednesday, the most-stated need was for an arts clearinghouse to provide information about resources, grant deadlines, auditions and arts activities.
The meeting itself functioned as a clearinghouse. After one artist complained that she didn't know where to get information about shows, another said he had exhibited for 12 years at street fairs and festivals around Southern California. The secret source: chambers of commerce. "I hope the San Diego Chamber of Commerce will wake up to that," he added.
A clutch of young playwright-producers, hot to network, attended. But it was news to them that the San Diego Theatre League, an organization for theater producers, already existed.
After a number of visual artists complained that no one knew they existed, Reggie Smith of the county's Public Arts Advisory Council said the county had conducted a survey of artists to update its file. The survey brought less than a 10% response. "You have to do your part too," she said.
The meeting offered no chance for cross-pollination of ideas between the big- and small-time arts communities, however. None of the city's major museums or performing arts groups attended. Interestingly, many of these already get an annual city allotment amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most of those attending receive no city financial support.
Only two major or medium-sized arts funding organizations showed up: COMBO--the private agency--and the San Diego Community Foundation.
When Jeff Hale of the Community Foundation said he represented a $20-million fund that was eager to give away money to artists, there was the sound of pens scribbling--the only time during the night--as dozens of artists copied the foundation's telephone number.
LYCEUM TOURS: If a hard-hat tour of a construction site sounds like fun to you, the San Diego Repertory Theatre may have just the ticket. Although the new Lyceum Theatre--actually a two-theater complex in the lowest level of Horton Plaza--isn't scheduled to open until April, the Rep is offering its theater patrons nightly tours of the nearly completed complex.
Tour groups of up to 28 are whisked by bus from the Rep's Sixth Avenue Playhouse to the new theater. For tours before the 8 p.m. shows, the van departs at 6:45 p.m., and for matinees, it leaves at 1:15 p.m. Reservations are "absolutely necessary." Call the Rep.
OTHELLO, TOO: On the heels of the San Diego Opera production of Verdi's "Otello," which opens Saturday at the Civic Theatre, comes another famous musical treatment of Shakespeare's tale of jealousy. The California Ballet will debut Jose Limon's celebrated "The Moor's Pavane" at 2:30 and 8 p.m. Feb. 15 only, at the East County Performing Arts Center in El Cajon.
Also on the program are Balanchine's "Concerto Barocco," "Romanian Rhapsodies" (to the Enesco score) and the "Sleeping Beauty" pas de deux. Former Dance Theatre of Harlem member Joe Wyatt, now a principal with the Pacific Ballet Theatre in Portland, Ore., will dance the principal role in "Concerto Barocco" and will appear with Karen Evans in the pas de deux.
CARLSBAD ARTS: The fast-growing City of Carlsbad took the lead in May among North County coastal communities by passing a percent-for-art ordinance, allocating 1% of construction costs of city buildings to the purchase of public art. More recently, the city hired Connie Beardsley as its full-time arts coordinator.
Beardsley, who came West when her physicist husband took a job with a La Jolla research and development firm, brings six years' experience as executive director of Arts Alliance, the public arts agency for Jackson and Hinds County, Miss. In Carlsbad, Beardsley will act as director of the seven-member Arts Commission, which will advise the City Council on arts matters. "I'm interested in learning about public art, and hope we can use funds to develop the performing arts," she said. Beardsely estimates that Carlsbad's percent-for-art ordinance will generate $156,000 this year. Carlsbad's population of 45,000 is expected to double in four years.