The Future of the Arts in Coronado Entices Residents to Special Meeting

Island Youth Theater group

From the last note of the group singalong of “Over the Rainbow,” led by the Coronado Ukulele Club (with guest vocalists and bongo drummer), to Disney’s Aladdin-themed music sung by the Island Youth Theater, to the smooth sounds of the Jazz Ensemble and visual displays of the local artists and author works, the talented artists in Coronado were showcased as more than 130 community members attended the special joint meeting of the City Council and the Coronado Cultural Arts Commission on Tuesday, January 8 in the Coronado Community Center Nautilus Room.

Ukulele Club
Jazz ensemble

The focus of this meeting was to share Coronado Creates, a 10-year master plan for arts and culture in Coronado. The City Council approved the creation of a Strategic Plan in October 2017, and Louise Stevens of ARTSMarket, Inc., a nationally recognized leader in this field, was selected to create this “cultural vision” for the community. Over the past year, she has worked with the Coronado Cultural Arts Commission (CAC) and more than 500 residents to develop this comprehensive plan, including resident and organization surveys, open meetings, steering committees, interviews, and prioritization.

This collaborative project has three goals:

  1. Provide varied opportunities for community engagement and participation in arts and culture by fostering capacity and excellence within Coronado’s creative arts sector through the City and its CAC.
  2. Maintain and expand public sector investment and stimulate deeper private sector investment to advance the capacity and artistry of Coronado nonprofit cultural organizations and artists to serve the community,
  3. Provide wide-ranging arts and creative experiences through the establishment and operation of cultural place-making and cultural arts venues.

In her presentation, Stevens pointed out that Coronado has an arts community comparable to cities ten times its size and emphasized that “this is an arts city that will continue to be more creative and this plan is a pathway forward. Bringing this alive is about Coronado’s history, present and future and will strengthen and enhance the current arts’ climate.”

She highlighted that the plan emphasizes the public and private sectors working together, adding an endowment component. She pointed out that there are more creative opportunities to enhance the Orange Avenue shopping and restaurant district and finding additional spaces for public art like on the Strand. The plan looks at fully utilizing existing spaces and also creating new venues for art enhancement. Both she and Mayor Bailey were impressed with the turnout at this meeting. “Most of the time I give a brief ten-minute presentation with three people in the audience. This is a testament to the importance of art to this community,” she said.

The goal of the implementation of this plan by 2028, will see Coronado:

  1. Offer a vibrant and diverse arts and creative life for its residents, including pre-k to lifelong arts engagement and learning opportunities, diverse exhibitions and visual arts programs, diverse performing arts programming, traditional and fresh festivals and events, film and literary arts.
  2. Be known as a best practice city for its grants program for the arts and for the leadership of the city cultural arts team.
  3. Have a community fund/foundation mechanism through which residents can support all the arts and cultural entities.
  4. Have one or more new community venues for the performing and visual arts and for lifelong engagement in the arts.
  5. Have iconic gateway public art at the entrance to Coronado from the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
  6. Have a strong public-private sector public art program that positions works of art in identified sites and at the Public Library (sculpture garden).
  7. Have a vibrant State of California designated Cultural Arts District.
  8. Have one or more certified neighborhood historic districts.
  9. Demonstrate excellence in arts learning for students in the Coronado Unified School District, facilitated through teaching artists as well as partnership learning experiences offered by Coronado arts nonprofits.
  10. Be home to strong arts and cultural nonprofits and to artists who can work and live in the community.

10-year Key Milestones

Years One through Three

  • Adapt Cultural Arts Commission Structure
  • Roll out new Cultural Arts Grants process
  • Undertake updated/new Public Arts Plan
  • Study and launch Foundation Model
  • Conduct venue feasibility study
  • Determine venue operating and funding model
  • Complete preliminary architectural concept for venue

Year Four through Six

  • Incubate new types of programming to fill gaps
  • Launch new public art program with iconic gateway art
  • Develop and program an Orange Avenue California Cultural District
  • Fully staff and operate an arts division of a community foundation
  • Determine next steps for venue
  • Refine architectural plans

Years Seven through Eight

  • Implement sector-side fund development strategy
  • Identify major gifts for venue

Years Nine through Ten

  • Venue and program expansion

Financial Considerations (info taken from page 68 of agenda)

Implementation Financial Considerations
What is the price tag for full implementation of Coronado CREATES?
There are four types of financial resources for arts and culture to be explored, identified and solicited over this 10‐year plan:
  • Capital: construction of a Coronado cultural arts venue; public art capital.
  • Endowment to sustain the prospective venue and support community programming within and by the venue.
  • Public funding including continued and enhanced City of Coronado funding for arts and culture, including funding the City operations of arts and culture within the City Manager’s department and continuing grants support for arts and cultural nonprofits. This could include grants from public entities such as Port of San Diego, SD County Grants, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and California Arts Council (CAC).
  • Private sector support for Coronado based arts and cultural organizations. This includes private foundation grants and private major donors.
Each of these requires a strategy that is embraced by the City, by nonprofit organizational leaders, major donors and taxpayers.
This plan anticipates the following needs for each of the above using three scenarios of low, medium and high resource requirements:
Image: City Council / Cultural Arts Commission meeting agenda

Since its inception in 2011, the CAC has done an outstanding job establishing partnerships with local schools, artists, authors and enhancing art throughout the community.  Current Commissioners include:

  • Jeff Tyler, Commission Chairman and Public Arts Program,
  • Doug Metz, Commission Vic Chairman and Arts Partners and Advocacy
  • William Lowman, Ad Hoc Chairman, Arts and Cultural Planning Process, Development and Special Events
  • Lei Udell, Commissioner of Literary Arts
  • Mariah Gillespie, Arts Education and Musical Arts Commissioner
  • Maryellen McMahon, Commissioner of Visual Arts
  • Sherrill Altstadt, Communications Public Relations and Media
  • Kelly Purvis, Contract Arts Administrator

The comprehensive plan can be viewed online, beginning on page 23, at

Image: City of Coronado Facebook page


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Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: