California Announces Recipients of New 'Cultural District' Program

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The south coast town of Oceanside has been designated one of the first fourteen "Cultural Districts" in California.  (Photo: Courtesy of California Arts Council)

Fourteen communities around California received a special state designation Thursday to help raise awareness of their artistic and cultural significance.

The Eureka Cultural Arts District in the far north of the state and Oceanside Cultural District way down south near San Diego are among the communities the California Arts Council selected to pilot its new "Cultural Districts" initiative.

The California Assembly signed the Cultural Districts initiative into law in 2015.

The California Cultural Districts logo.
The California Cultural Districts logo. (Photo: Courtesy California Arts Council)

"Some of these districts' goals may be focused around increasing residents and visitors," California Arts Council director of public affairs, Caitlin Fitzwater, says. "In a more urban community, success could look like a continued preservation and presence of artists."

Oceanside is home to a surf museum, a historic pier and tattoo artists. The city's head librarian, CJ Di Mento, is one of the main forces behind Oceanside’s successful bid.


"Through this cultural district designation, we believe economic development will occur, the diversity of Oceanside will retain, and the arts and cultural organizations will sustain," Di Mento says.

Like the other districts chosen for the pilot, Oceanside will receive technical, administrative and marketing assistance from the California Arts Council, as well as $10,000 in stipends.

San Francisco's SOMA Pilipinas is another community to receive the 'Cultural District' designation.
San Francisco's SOMA Pilipinas is another community to receive the 'Cultural District' designation. (Photo: Courtesy California Arts Council)

For SOMA Pilipinas, San Francisco’s Filipino Cultural Heritage District, the designation is as much about combatting the effects of gentrification as it is about highlighting the neighborhood’s cultural significance.

"It’s really a strategy for community stabilization and developing strategies for economic equity," SOMA Pilipinas' project manager, Raquel Redondias, says.

California is the 14th U.S. state to adopt a Cultural District initiative. Fitzwater says the California Arts Council expects to open the next round of applications in 2019.