Artist petition for the Black Arts and Culture District in Encanto

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Speaker 1: (00:00)

Any stretch of Imperial Avenue in the San Diego and Canto neighborhood could host a Black Arts District to support the region’s culture and community. The hope is that the official creation of the city’s first black arts and culture district can bring resources and revitalization to a long-ignored district. San Diego reporters, Andrea Lopez via Fanya joins us now with more. Andrea. Welcome. Hi, how are you doing

Speaker 2: (00:25)

How are you?

Speaker 1: (00:26)

Good. Good. Thank you. So can you start by laying the groundwork for us here? What is it about this part of town that would make it a good home for a black arts district?

Speaker 2: (00:36)

Yeah, so this area is really interesting. I mean, you have a streetcar line running through it. You have a lot of black-owned businesses. Um, there’s a long history of well-known leaders who, you know, worked or, uh, advocated for it in some form or another in this neighborhood. It was also home to the Encanto Street Fair, which brought in a lot of black artists, uh, musicians, lots of community resources for the neighborhood. So yeah, it’s always been kind of like a central area of ​​that district for the city of San Diego.

Speaker 1: (01:09)

Who is behind this effort to officially recognize the neighborhood as a black arts district.

Speaker 2: (01:14)

Yes. So a few people, a lot of people tried to get this area recognized, or at least some attention, there is a park in the area that has been overlooked by a lot of the businesses that were there in Bandon now. So, uh, one, one specific person leading this movement now. Um, her name is Kimberly Phillips P and she’s a local artist. She is part of the Southeast Art Team, a group of artists from Southeast San Diego. And, uh, she really insists on that. She set up an online petition, uh, and she’s just kinda, you know, advocating, she put on a tour to really bring attention to the area.

Speaker 1: (01:53)

And what do people in the community say about establishing an official district in the area?

Speaker 2: (01:59)

Yeah, so people are excited. I mean, it’s interesting because, you know, a lot of times you live in, in an area and you might not know the whole story about it. So, uh, some of the residents who spoke with who took the tour were a little surprised by things they didn’t know about their own neighborhood where they grew up there, but, you know, they didn’t. didn’t know … and – so had come from there or some artist had established something in it. And, uh, so I think people are excited. I mean, there are mainly a lot of great community activists that, you know, people know in the neighborhood, but their stories aren’t really preserved anywhere. So they really hope that through this black arts district, they can preserve the voice of black leaders in this region. And I hope, you know, to bring some more attention to this area.

Speaker 1: (02:42)

It is the official recognition of an area as an arts district. Does this unlock some funds or resources for the region?

Speaker 2: (02:50)

Yes. So there are different ways to go about it. I mean, one of the more official ways is to become a cultural district with the state. Um, we have two here in San Diego, a bubble park is one of them and Barrio Logan is also one of them, but it’s a very long process. I know, uh, City Heights was trying to do one in a section of this neighborhood. Uh, and the other way is for city council to write a resolution and say, this is a cultural arts district, which they already did. Uh, and, and that does two things. I mean, it allows the people of this district to market this area that way. Uh, so you can get more business, more attention. Um, sometimes there are grants available, but actually it’s just, you know, a lot of opportunities for marketing and really being able to shape what this field looks like.

Speaker 1: (03:41)

Are there other state-designated cultural districts in the city?

Speaker 2: (03:45)

There’s this boat park and, uh, Barrio Logan, but that’s it, it’s just those two. So, uh, it’s a big deal to be a cultural district and it’s a long process. So, uh, I think if, if they did something like that, that would be super interesting. None of the state’s cultural districts are black, like black arts and culture districts. So it would have, it would be the first of if they could get to the state.

Speaker 1: (04:09)

The organizer behind this effort says that Canto has long been ignored. How? ‘Or’ What?

Speaker 2: (04:15)

Lots of lack of resources, uh, a lot of these buildings and businesses there, uh, some properties are owned by the city. Some aren’t, and they’re kind of, you know, lost. Um, the best example is these, uh, art panels that were put up a long time ago by an artist, and they’re kind of falling apart. And, uh, you know, the park that I mentioned earlier that the toilets don’t always work and it’s just, you know, they don’t take care of it. So a lot of community members have right, Kim put a lot of effort into painting murals in this area to beautify it. But, but yeah, there’s just, there, there hasn’t been a lot of money in this area to deal with it.

Speaker 1: (04:57)

And you mentioned it and wrote that for the last decades this neighborhood has been a major hub for black arts and culture. What happened?

Speaker 2: (05:05)

Yes. So there was the Encanto street fair and, uh, it was organized by a lot of activists and little by little I think, you know, they couldn’t organize it anymore. I think, uh, the recession had something to do with it and, you know, a band tried to take it back, but it didn’t really get taken back and didn’t have the resources it needed to get together. So that’s right, it ended up disappearing. And a lot of people really loved this fair. I mean, it was, it was a big fair, and it was, uh, important to, to, uh, point out, uh, black residents of San Diego.

Speaker 1: (05:42)

Um, since then there has been some sort of popular effort to spruce up the neighborhood with murals, painted utility boxes, and other types of public art. Can you tell us about this district as an art center?

Speaker 2: (05:54)

It is mainly that. Uh, the, but there’s also, uh, a few centers out there, uh, that have a lot of community activities like, uh, amending the circle, a lot of, you know, other than what you’re basically thinking about when you think of an arts and culture district, don’t you. You think of galleries, uh, you think of dancing. So, uh, there are a few areas and activities out there where people have these kinds of arts-oriented, music-oriented and community-oriented events. So part, part of the arts district would attract maybe as an art gallery or maybe as a children’s music center.

Speaker 1: (06:35)

And where is the official recognition of the district today? Is there a feeling that this will be passed by city council or maybe the mayor’s office?

Speaker 2: (06:43)

Yeah, so, uh, Monica Montgomery, uh, okay, so the mayor’s office told me that they would be supporting a district as well. Um, so right now the city is basically working on the language of such a resolution, how best to describe the area, and they’re really relying on community members to make sure it’s correct. Uh, so, so once that’s settled, hopefully we can see something happen to city council and be supported by everyone.

Speaker 1: (07:09)

And is there a timeline for when a formal settlement in this district might be?

Speaker 2: (07:14)

No, not yet, but I know, uh, you know, Kimberly is really horny. She has big, big plans for it. I mean, she wants to see something like you could ride with it, with bikes going through the neighborhood. And, you know, I, I think the vision of what the area might be so beautiful and very, uh, big, but it’s going to take a while.

Speaker 1: (07:34)

I spoke with San Diego reporter Andrea Lopez via Fanya, and you can read this story and the San Diego Union Tribune. Andrea, thank you very much for being with us.

Speaker 2: (07:45)

Thank you for hosting me.


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