Patrick Stewart and Performing Arts in San Diego

Thank you to Ms Heather Harris for taking such copious notes.  She made this blog entry possible!

On Thursday, May 8, 2014, our guest speaker Patrick Stewart talked about the theatre and performing arts scene in San Diego.  He is the Executive Director for Words Alive, a Arts/Literacy program that works with other organizations.

Words Alive just opened a show at Space 4 Art. Space 4 Art is in East Village at 15th & J. It has two galleries, an outdoor performance area, and 6 live-work studios.  It all started with a La Jolla Playhouse connection that supported an Israeli Photographer who has created a curriculum for Jewish Day Schools – kids take photos in their community based on Jewish culture.

The Words Alive foundation serves kids in need like at Monarch and Lindsay School – schools that help kids impacted by life a little harder than norm.  The connection with the photography concept and the new show was inspired by the kids’ Reading list book – Great Gatsby. Patrick was wondering about kids’ idea of opulence. What would it look like from their perspective. The project was for all kids would read the book, the organization gave disposable cameras to everyone and they focused on three things:

  • Conspicuous consumption
  • The American dream
  • Pursuit of Happiness

They brought in a photographer to teach kids how to compose a shot/frame it.  Patrick brought together a friend and curator at MOPA, and the Museum Studies at Mesa and they all worked together to put on the show.  300-plus High school students took pictures across SD County.  There were 140 photos – they narrowed down to 41.  Mesa College students learned how to hang the photographs.  The show gave a sense of community through an artistic perspective.  Opened last Thursday at MOPA Space 4 Art Public reception 5/17 and finishes on 5/30.

Patrick studied theater, theater criticism, philosophy of art, then got a graduate management degree in non-profit (Non-profit MBA kinda thing). Got accepted to graduate school for directing – was going to move back east. The culture is very silo’d – no collaboration.  He works hard to find collaborative opportunities.  He spent time in Australia and realized other countries have a different funding model  – in a lot of countries, the state funds all the art, so it is paid for.

If we had the same concept of supporting the creation of work – arts experience becomes very different when its collaborative. In America not a lot of co-mingling because everyone is competing for money.

What is the most collaborative form of art?

Dance collaborates more often and dancers are better at it. They try to tell a story in a really different way. Try to find new and interesting ways to tell the stories. Dancers are forced to tell it in a more imaginative way. They look at collaborations in a different perspective and they are more experimental.

Jean Isaacs most visible and Maloshock – big dance makers. She rebranded Jean Isaacs dance theater into something completely new. In the past they’ve put together a really interesting multi-media, auto-biographical, slide-movie, one-act that wasn’t even a dance show. It is bringing in more of the disciplines. Her question is, How are we re-defining performing art so its undefinable?

Can San Diego support the arts?

Managing host committee for the performing arts collaboration – it is a very rich community. Mostly supported by itself – there’s a large enough/single group of people supporting everything.  The arts cannot be supported without a very large philanthropic trust. It’s 50/50 for income sources for what you’re seeing (to pay for behind the scenes and the actual show). 50% ticket 50% philanthropic sources. Licensing works well for Playhouse and The Globe. 9 Tony Awards for San Diego between the two of them in the last year.

How to be more involved: Download Tart the app for the latest shows and tickets in San Diego (available on iPhone):

Theaters on the watch list (that you can afford)

  • Cygnet
  • Ion
  • Moxy
  • San Diego Musical Theater
  • N. Coast Rep
  • New Village Arts
  • J-Company
  • Diversionary
  • San Diego Rep (at Lyceum)
  • Lambs Players

Christopher Ashley and Mike Rosenburg have focused on making the Playhouse a local focus. They came in the last 4 years. They have taken a big step in making it a local organization. They have taken small residencies under their wing. Circle Circle Dot Dot – tiny tiny company. Predominantly do site-specific, safe and accessible work.  For example: San Diego I Love You and San Diego I Love You 2.0 – start at Small Bar, something that happens, then move to the next venue.

La Jolla Playhosue started the DNA Festival – 3-4 shows that are like a

Without Walls (WOW Festival) – puppet show by Basil Twist

Makers Quarter – Playhouse and Rep working together for new show:

El Henry – Mexican musical version of Henry II – $30!! This Summer – beginning of June.

Arts are collaborating, local and working to make it affordable.

Space is another consideration. Our Civic Center sucks (not a his quote). We need a great place that would be for mid-shows – 300 seats. Along with rehearsal space. Until San Diego sees a lot of value and cultural development. Did it in DC- there’s a way to completely re-design a neighborhood with solely arts and culture. You need things that keep working artists – they have to make a living. Things that are happening academically, in the community, and with everyone.

Liberty Station – Luce Theater (kitty-corner to church by Vons) – they were going to chop it up into 4 spaces – but not allowed because of Historical Designation and not cost-effectiveness. It’s too big and was simply used to show movies to naval trainees.

San Diego Musical Theater will be at North Park Theater.

Liberty Station Arts and Culture scene was supposed to be subsidized to bring in artists but subsidies have run out and rents are high.

If you had 25 million for arts – what would you do?

Build in the North East Village – 16th and C build a multi-use arts facility.  Home for mid-size and mid-tier theater companies that encouraged collaboration because of the conversation that could happen there.

What to do to support arts?

“Seek out small and mid-sized performing arts shows, if you like what you see, buy a subscription – if you love it after a year, donate!?”

Patrick has two kids – two girls – 10 and 12: Mikayla (Kick) and Esmé – took the kids to work. Got them engaged. All the arts in Ed programs – in the schools. Jr. Theatre is in their school. Important. Advocate for an Arts in Ed at school. You can go see Jr. Theatre production – but if they are involved in the making of art that’s better. The last thing we need is a slew of new playwrights. But if they are engaged, the next time they see it they will be engaged in what is happening.

“When you have a connection on what it means to create art, you respect it more.”


This entry was posted in GGG and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.