Saving Starving SD Artists

There's no doubt there exists a growing music and arts community in San Diego that's recognized nationally, but keeping the artists here is the real challenge. It's incredibly difficult to be an artist for a living, and that's what has so much of our best talent heading for L.A. or New York. To remedy this, or at least alleviate the financial burdens of talented individuals in San Diego, the San Diego Foundation recently awarded $285 000 to 15 artists. who in turn will team up with local institutions for artistic projects. 

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A few of the musicians selected for grants are SoundDiego favorites, especially, Joel P West, who was given a grant to write songs for a full-length record for his band, the Tree Ring. The nearly $18,000 will be spent creating a piece with elements of folk and chamber music that was inspired by San Diego's natural landscape. Also, local artist Wes Bruce was awarded $25 000 by Lux Art Institute to interview hundreds of individuals about their connection to different places in their lives, that will emerge in various forms including poetry and photography. Bruce has collaborated heavily with San Diego musicians in the past, and is perhaps best known for his work with Sezio -- he contextualizes music by bringing visual elements into the experience of live shows and videos. Whether it's through making forts or writing hundreds of letters on old pieces of paper, he brings music to life in radical new ways. Also riding the gravy train is local jazz icon Gilbert Castellanos, who was the recipient of nearly $20,000 -- he will be using his grant to underwrite the creation of theater piece focusing on the region's jazz history and musicians.

In an interview with the, Felicia Shaw, the director of arts and culture for the San Diego Foundation, explained that the foundation needed to shift the focus from donating directly to the arts and culture community to donating directly to the artists working in the worlds of music, theater, dance, film and storytelling. Institutions will still play a critical role, in many cases serving as the platform for the same artists. Officials said that 175 artists were considered for the grants, which are necessary not only to help facilitate cultural endeavors but to recognize the great work being down locally. The project is also incredibly liberating for artists, who are often commissioned by organizations to create someone else's idea. Now, artists will have the ability to turn their dreams into a reality.

To find out more about the artists and their projects, check out this article.

Nada Alic runs the San Diego-based music blog Friends With Both Arms.Follow her updates on Twitter or contact her directly.

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