Saturday, July 13, 2024

Cultural Arts Commission Supports Option 4 for Winn Room Project

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The following letter was sent to the City Council in late February by the Cultural Arts Commission regarding the Winn Room project.

Submitted by the Cultural Arts Commission

Mayor Bailey, Councilmembers Donovan, Downey, Duncan, and Tanaka:

The Coronado Cultural Arts Commission, established in 2011, is dedicated to fostering the development of performing, visual, cultural, and other arts in Coronado. Responsible to provide recommendations to the City Council, the Commission identifies the enlargement and enhancement of the Winn Room as integral to the arts in Coronado and recommends the implementation of “Option 4” from the City Council Winn Room Subcommittee Report. The Commission’s analysis considers economic impact, social vitality, as well as educational, cultural, and historical implications, emphasizing the significance of this decision for the city’s cultural arts vibrancy and future.

Public libraries serve as hubs for knowledge and culture. Historically this was primarily through books but in the present era, the need is increasingly fulfilled through in-person, interactive activities. Events at the library, particularly the Winn Room, bring the community together, fostering engagement through rich cultural experiences. The Winn Room, as the only free venue for arts and cultural events in Coronado, plays a pivotal role in the city’s economic health, social vitality, and cultural prominence, hosting more than 400 public events annually.

The economic impact of the arts in Coronado is substantial, with non-profit arts contributing $39.2 million to the local economy in 2022. This data, collected through Coronado’s participation in the AEP6 Survey, illustrates the economic impact of cultural events on not only our citizens, but also visitors from across the bridge and beyond. Today, the lack of an available, appropriately sized, and modern venue severely limits events offered as well as audience attendance. Further, the AEP6 study demonstrated the social impact of non-profit arts, with more than 2000 volunteers contributing over 85,000 hours of community building service. The Winn Room is the facility where the community gives of their time and talents.

The Commission contends that options 1 and 2 amount to superficial upgrades, that will likely require significant expenditures in the coming years to keep pace with technology. Recognizing the importance of a comprehensive approach to the Winn Room’s improvements, the Commission believes that investing in the $9 million Option 4 is an essential and multi-generational necessity, ensuring the Winn Room serves the community’s needs for the next 50 or more years. Funding opportunities, including grants, foundations, businesses, and citizen contributions, are considered viable to offset a significant portion of the cost, making the project financially feasible for the city.

The city lacks a facility for a 200-300 seat audience, except for the Nautilus Room which is acoustically insufficient with limited sight lines to accommodate cultural arts events. The Main Stage Theater, which seats 570 people is too large for many of the free events hosted by the Library and is programmed by and heavily utilized by the CUSD. The Grand Room at the Spreckels Center is only marginally larger than the current Winn Room, and heavily utilized for Spreckels Center programming. A venue is needed to fill this gap, particularly as many performers, lecturers and authors require a minimum of 200 seats before agreeing to book a venue (which would not be met through “Option 3”). Coronado residents have lost out on many popular events because of the lack of an appropriately sized facility and enough seating for all the residents wishing to attend.

In conclusion, the community’s desire and need for a Winn Room expansion that accommodates a 208-seat audience and incorporates a state-of-the-art audio/visual system with a raised ceiling are clear. The Commission, in fulfilling its mission to grow the arts in Coronado, advocates for a larger and improved event and meeting space at the library. “Option 4” is the only economically sensible choice. This expansion would significantly benefit the community and be achieved at a reasonable cost to the city, aligning with the city’s evolving cultural and economic landscape.

Coronado Cultural Arts Commission
Deb Kaller, Chair
Dawn Richards, Vice-Chair
Jeanmarie Bond, Commissioner
Michelle Darnell, Commissioner
Rachel Streuber, Commissioner
Johanna Wilson, Commissioner



Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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