Arts and Culture in San Diego



Last week the San Diego County Board of Supervisors opened their floor to the nonprofit organizations of San Diego. Each organization was allowed two minutes to speak to the Board regarding their activities and the funding that each requested for the 2010 fiscal year.

California Ballet was permitted to speak at 9:30am on Monday, June 14th. Maxine Mahon, accompanied by Company dancer and staffer Joseph Shumate, stood before the Board of Supervisors and spoke of the impact California Ballet has had across the county. In the two minutes allowed, Ms. Mahon presented a visual representation of the Company’s presence countywide, spoke of the various educational programs California Ballet offers, related the success of company alumni across the globe, and thanked the Board of Supervisors for their generous support in previous years.

The presentation may have been short, but it was well received.



Later that same day, press members and San Diego arts leaders gathered in front of the lily pond in Balboa Park to listen to Mayor Jerry Sanders speak. During his speech, Mayor Sanders addressed the importance of the Arts Industry to the San Diego economy, as well as touted the Tony Award for Best Musical that was given to Memphis, which started right here in San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse! Mayor Sanders emphasized San Diego’s growing position as a leading force in arts and culture, and presented the Arts and Culture Impact Study for fiscal year 2009.

The Arts and Culture Impact Study, performed each fiscal year, gathers information county wide regarding jobs created, tourism garnered, and return on investment for San Diego’s Arts Industry. This year’s study showed the following:

  • In 2009, the arts stimulated the local economy with over $181 million in direct exenditures. This includes $86.9 million in salaries!
  • The 76 organizations funded by the Commission for Arts and Culture (nonprofit organizations) added to the employment sector by directly supporting a workforce of more than 7,000 individuals.
  • In addition to the paid workforce, 12,250 volunteers contributed their time, talent, and resources to the arts sector.
  • In FY2009, 1.46 million people visited San Diego to participate in arts and cultural events funded by the Commission. These people pumped more than $750 million into the local economy (based on a one day stay).
  • An estimated 2.6 million visitors to San Diego County came specifically for arts and culture related visits. These tourists use hotel accommodations and spend, on average, $514 per trip as compared with the average tourist’s spending of $255.


The study goes on with these impressive statistics, but you get the picture. The Arts and Culture sector of San Diego is vibrant and alive with creativity, economic weight, attraction of tourism, hardworking employees, and more. Aside from the flavor that our industry lends the city and county, we also bring a measure of economic stability as we create jobs, bring in tourists, and send our best and brightest out into the world to do things such as winning Tony Awards!


Have you donated money to one of San Diego’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations this year? Have you donated some of your time? Have you purchased tickets to attend an event? Any and all of these things will help to keep San Diego leading the world with a veritable tsunami of creativity!


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