Arts advocate Vicki Reed chairs a commission to keep San Diego vibrant

Vicki Reed
Vicki Reed

Vicki Reed is the chair of the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture that supports the city’s artistic and cultural assets, showcases San Diego as an international tourist destination, and integrates arts and culture into all local communities. The various programs it institutes and manages, including funding more than 100 nonprofit organizations on an annual basis, can be found on its website. Without this funding, obtained from a portion of the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), the occurrences of local arts and culture programs, including festivals and parades, in local communities, schools, community centers and health care facilities would be far less available.  Funding from the city also allows organizations to provide free or discounted tickets for performances and exhibits.

Prior to serving on the Commission, Vicki was on the City’s Public Art Committee.  An arts writer, critic and art historian who focused on the 1960s, she is married to a La Jolla native and is the mother of three.

What brought you to La Jolla?

My husband, he was the attraction. Thirty years ago I was on vacation in San Diego and a college friend decided I needed a date for New Year’s Eve.  She convinced Tom to call me and, although neither of us realized it at the time, that evening ultimately changed my life.  It didn’t happen immediately, we were both working at our first jobs, mine was in Arizona, but after commuting for five years we got married and I moved here.

What makes the town special to you?

It’s the fact that three highly respected and nationally recognized institutions — MCASD, the La Jolla Historical Society and the Athenaeum — are within walking distance of one another.  My children visit all of these organizations, usually for a school project, without realizing how lucky they are.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you improve in the area?

Many visitors are drawn to San Diego, and specifically to La Jolla, by our vibrant arts and culture offerings.  In recognition of this, the city of San Diego invests in the arts by allocating a small portion of the hotel tax paid by tourists to arts organizations.  However, funding has varied from year to year and has declined as those hotel taxes have been increasingly used to cover the city’s other obligations.

Our community and economy would benefit greatly by providing funding to arts organizations that is certain and enhanced.  As the economy improves and more tourists spend more money in San Diego, a set percentage of taxes collected from those tourists — perhaps a modest 1 percent of the 10 ½ percent now collected by the city — should be designated specifically for arts and culture funding.

This would not only contribute to the stability and the vitality of local organizations such as the La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla Music Society, MCASD, and so forth, but would benefit the entire San Diego community.

Who or what inspires you?

Unselfish actions.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

I would definitely include Mayor Jerry Sanders and Gov. Jerry Brown so I can share with them my ideas about the importance of art and culture; Andy Warhol, to discern what he was picking up on locally because he was a genius at recognizing contemporary thought and trends; then, to make the evening really difficult, I would add Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway for totally selfish reasons.

This would allow me to recreate Stein’s Salon evenings and give me the chance to question these harbingers of early 20


century culture for insight.  Of course, then I am beyond eight because Alice B. Toklas would accompany Stein and Warhol never went anywhere without an entourage from the Factory.  This is actually more of a scene than a dinner party, and it would either be amazing or a disaster.

Tell us about what you are reading.

Joyce Maynard’s memoir “At Home in the World,”  in which I am either engrossed in the narrative or irritated with the author’s self absorption and cruel way she depicts her parents.  I’m also skimming through “Measuring the Value of Culture.”

What is your most-prized possession?

Right now I have two.  The first is an artwork by Lael Corbin that I spontaneously bid on at the MCASD auction.  It looks perfect on my living room wall and the quirkiness of it, a tiny toy pig framed in a classroom desktop, makes me smile whenever I walk past it.

The second is the Audi A4 that Santa brought me.  Not because it’s more fun to drive or easier to park than my suburban, but because it affirms that my carpool years, which I did love at the time, are over and I now more time for other projects.

What do you do for fun?

I like to walk up the hill to Mount Soledad with a dear friend, her dog and my dog; jump in the ocean when the water is warm;  and invite friends over for dinner.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

That would be continuing and actually finishing my Ph.D. even though I was sidetracked by the arrival of and then the demands of my three children.

What is your philosophy of life?

It’s not a philosophy, but on numerous occasions, especially after a difficult day, I find myself muttering the somewhat hopeful words of Scarlett O’Hara, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”



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