Diego Union Tribune — July 12, 2011

By James Chute

The City of San Diego is one of 51 communities receiving an inaugural “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In partnership with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture will receive $150,000 to design an “arts overlay” for The Village at Market Creek in southeastern San Diego.

“The ‘Our Town’ project will harness the power of arts and culture to unite neighbors and strengthen community identity,” said San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders Tuesday in a statement. “Creative solutions such as this are crucial to the successful recovery of this community as part of an expanding, thriving urban core.”

The NEA awarded a total of $6.575 million to communities in 34 states for projects that use “public-private partnerships to strengthen the arts while shaping the social, physical, and economic characters of their neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions.”

The Village at Market Creek (which includes Market Creek Plaza at 310 Euclid Ave.) encompasses roughly 60 formerly blighted acres that are being transformed in part through art-related projects. The planned “arts overlay” will range from public art in open spaces to creating walking trails.

“Since the very beginning of our work in The Village, celebrating culture through art has been a powerful force for bringing people together across their differences in order to create a common vision for change,” stated Jennifer Vanica, president and CEO of the Jacobs Center. Her aspiration is to make the Village a “must-see arts destination.” Four other “Our Town” grants were awarded in California: to the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs ($250,000 for the Watts Historic Train Station Visitors Center), the Los Angeles County Arts Commission ($100,000 for the Willowbrook neighborhood), Richmond’s East Bay Center for the Performing Arts ($150,000 for an interactive installation by artist Scott Snibbe), and the City of San Jose ($250,000 for Silicon Valley Inside/Out, a project aiming to build a “more visually dynamic” downtown). • twitter: @sdutchute • facebook: sdut art & music

Original article can be found at

The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation is a non-profit foundation that operates on the premise that residents must own and drive the change that takes place in their community for it to be meaningful and long-lasting. JCNI explores new pathways to change through entrepreneurial relationships, hands-on training, and the creative investment of resources.