Anthony Corso | Stratford Court
The last issue of the Sandpiper offered several significant thoughts and challenges regarding the revitalization of Downtown Del Mar. In this regard, it was suggested that we begin the revitalization process with some reflection as to who we are as a community and as a people and what we hope to become. Hopefully such thoughts would generate a “compelling vision as to the activities and functions to be encouraged and accommodated in a revitalized downtown.”
The recommendation recalls the famous quote by Gertrude Stein in which she dismissed Oakland, California upon her return from Paris, “There is no there, There.” Her comment have been construed as an admonition to city planners engaged in revitalizing American cities to include places and structures that accommodate activities which inspire citizens to higher purposes than commerce i.e. shopping. An example of this came to mind recently during a visit to neighboring Fallbrook. The City is being revived with the on-going development of Arts and Cultural Center, which schedules five major art exhibits each year and promotes an array of arts programs serving residents and visitors alike.
The Center is housed in what was once a Rexall Pharmacy and collaborates with organizations in the community to create shows and special events—Fallbrook School of the Arts (workshops and demonstrations), Fallbrook Film Festival, Fallbrook Library (book talks), Fallbrook Mission Theatre, Fallbrook Junior Conservancy, the Fallbrook Music Society (small concerts and performances), the Fallbrook Historical Society, the Fallbrook Festival Committee and many other service organizations. In addition, a dynamic Art in Public Places program has successfully managed to place art, mostly sculpture, among buildings and within parks and open spaces--therefore bringing art into daily life of both residents and visitors.
In 2004 the consultant Roger Books, president of Destination Development, encouraged Fallbrook to position itself as an Arts-education destination and to strive to stimulate the vitality and economy of Fallbrook through cultural tourism and to enhance its standing as a regional arts leader. His challenge: “Forget avocados. Think visual arts.” Since then the city has continuously moved along this path.
An economic consultant recently conducted an analysis of the economic impact of the Arts Center and related programs. The conclusion: the approach has had a substantial and positive impact upon the retail sector by generating tourism, creating a demand for retail space and increasing city revenues. More than 3,000-4,000 persons regularly visit on weekends and local residents increasingly patronize local shops and arts programs. More importantly, the approach towards revitalization has served to insure a “There” is "There.”