The City of Santa Ana Investing in the Arts Grant was given to Artwalk to hire local artists/performers like Calle 4 Cumbia in 2016
While it can feel like there's not enough good news these days -- it's great to take a moment and recognize the City of Santa Ana's small, but meaningful gesture to preserve the City's beloved Investing in the Arts Grant program despite widespread cuts in the City's 2020-2021 Budget which was finalized at the last City Council meeting on July 7th, 2020.
A petition was circulated by local artist, Kimberly Duran and arts advocates Victor Payan and Sandra Pocha Pena, that laid out the problem and a plea for help: "For 5 years, the City of Santa Ana has invested in over 60 art projects all over the city funding over 100 local artists and art organizations. This annual grant benefits our residents in many ways, from Beautifying our Neighborhoods, increasing our Quality of Life and Feeding our Spirits with Poetry, Books, Free Concerts, Theater, Films & Cultural Events. Let this blossoming of our creative community continue as we celebrate the best Santa Ana has to offer!". All-in-all, Duran's petition gathered an astonishing 900 signatures in a very short time.
Video thanking the City of Santa Ana for the 2016 Investing in the Arts Grant given to DTSA First Saturday Artwalk to hire local artists and performers
Correspondence from local artists, community groups, business groups and institutions poured into the City and undoubtedly shed light on the importance of the arts to a variety of sectors.
Tomas Benitez, a member of the consulting team that drafted the City of Santa Ana Arts and Culture Master Plan, wrote, "As I' m sure you are aware, there is a multiplier effect for public monies invested on the arts which returns 3 times the amount invested through purchases and expenses related to attendance at arts events. To date, Santa Ana has allocated $375, 000 towards the Investing in the Artists Grant. By means of this multiplier effect, that investment has generated $1.125 million real dollars that economically benefit both the City of Santa Ana and Santa Ana community as a whole. "
Briana Harley, a local teaching artist and small business owner wrote, "Investing in the Arts grants are incredibly important to creating community jobs. I have personally paid multiple musicians and artists for events and programming that bring business to the city countless times."
Madeleine Spencer, Executive Director of the Santa Ana Business Council wrote, "The arts are pivotal to the city of Santa Ana. It is this critical artistic talent in your community that will help this city move resiliently beyond crisis. It is this talent in the city that will eventually allow the next generation of Santaneros to build back up this city to become the city of their dreams."
At the final reading of the budget, Councilmembers, one-after-one announced their support for keeping the grants and also for supporitng the arts in general as an economic driver and important mental health outlet.
Councilmember Penaloza said "When we're looking at things like cutting the arts grant, we have to consider the the artist grant program is an economnic driver for the City. It's used to activate dead space and bring in revenue and people. I would give up my discretionary art funds to provide at least 1 or 2 grants...I'm not much of an artist but I believe art leads to mental wellness. When I'm about to burst, I like doing a little improv or going to Michael's because it's therapeutic."
Mayor Pulido went further and even advocated for future arts grants to have thier funds distributed upon award, as he had heard from the community that artists had trouble with the system of reimbursements that is currently in-place.
City Manager Kristine Ridge made a presentation to City staff and responded to Council, "We will turn over every rock in order to find the $65,000 to restore the arts grant program."
The next day, Kimberly Duran claimed victory for the arts on her highly-circulated petition page: "We did it !!! I would like to take a moment to thank all individuals who participated in signing and spreading the word to continue to fund the "Investing in Artist grant" for the City of Santa Ana 2020-2021 FY budget. We feel as artist it is important to voice and defend the significance Public Art has in our community and support these grant opportunities for future generations of Artist. We could not have done it without you! So thank you!"
What's most exciting about the preservation of the arts grant is the rare coming together of so many artists, leaders and residents to save the grants and to state the importance of the arts.
Let's hope the arts grants are well-utilized this year and that further coordination and organization of Santa Ana's creative sector continues.
Story by Ryan Smolar
Santa Ana Arts News
News, opportunities and updates for the creative community.