Our Story


In 1990, a little over a year after the City of San Diego amended its hotel/motel tax to include a set aside for arts and culture, the City Manager proposed to zero out the accumulated arts fund to close a gap in the City’s general budget. The proposal set off a shock wave across the arts and culture sector, forcing more than 150 nonprofit arts and culture organizations to galvanize, speak with one voice, and work together to fend off the crippling cut. The story of how local advocacy efforts ultimately saved the arts is also how San Diego ART Matters was formed – then as the San Diego Arts and Cultural Coalition and later as the San Diego Regional Arts and Culture Coalition (SDRACC). This group of concerned citizens has never stopped working to promote, preserve, and protect the arts for the benefit of the community.

For most of SDRACC’s history, its primary focus was ensuring the continuation and growth of the City of San Diego's investment of transient occupancy tax funding in arts and culture. However, as the City of San Diego’s commitment to arts and culture stabilized, the sector’s needs in other parts of the region evolved and increased. SDRACC began to realize that it was not fully equipped to fulfill a “regional” advocacy mission and that it, too, needed to evolve if it were to make an impact.

In 2020, during the pandemic, SDRACC began a transition process, examining its capacity to fulfill its mission as the region’s primary advocate for the arts.  An internal assessment of SDRACC’s all-volunteer governing structure and years of under-investment called for change.

Over the ensuing years, the board completed a development process that included growing and diversifying its membership, overhauling bylaws, policies, and procedures, and, most importantly, hiring a professional administrator—the first in the organization’s history—to provide leadership and serve as the face of the organization.

In 2023, the SDRACC board completed a nine-month strategic plan, supported by a major grant from the Conrad Prebys Foundation, and began implementation. The first item in the action plan was an extensive rebranding project that would enable SDRACC to support a four-pillar advocacy agenda with a new name and visual identity.

In April 2024, SDRACC invited the community to kick off Arts, Culture, and Creativity Month and witness the unveiling of its new name—San Diego ART Matters—which signifies who we are and why the work we are here to do is important to our region and deserves support.

Join us as we begin this new chapter of our history.

A new era of arts advocacy has begun.

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