by Gerry Giuliano
November 5, 2022
In May of this year, doors opened to a facility that has the vision to further cultivate downtown San Diego as a dynamic arts center which rivals other major cities, perhaps better known for their arts community. The mission of UC San Diego Park & Market is to grow with the dynamic community of East Village, tailored to the wants of the community. I personally moved to San Diego for the sunshine and sound of the ocean but over the years, I’ve found myself more and more drawn to our blossoming urban neighborhoods. Located on 1100 Market Street, Park & Market is the newest seed for the future of our education and art culture forestation.
The building is home to the UC San Diego Division of Extended Studies. In addition to being a spectacular facility to take extended studies, as well as more generalized public courses such as ELS, science, legal, etc., Park and Market serves as an exciting commercial venue for civic arts and culture engagement. The first two floors include a black box theater which seats 200 people, bistro that’s open for breakfast and lunch, movie theater where you can grab a pint, a grand staircase that has a pocket stage halfway up the first and second floor and an outdoor amphitheater outdoors, suitable for 200-400 people.
Andrew Waltz, Director of Arts Manager of Park & Market elaborates on the facility’s artistic vision to “grow a community understanding about what the space is and then creating resources that the community finds of value. This is accomplished by engaging with our stakeholders to contribute content as well as engaging the community with authentic creative conversations, to fill a gap that has been unavailable to the region.” There is no mold for the programs that are conducted at Park and Market and can serve as an easing introduction to broadening forms of art for the community. For reference, October’s lineup included an opportunity to experience a timelessly elegant, yet potentially intimidating newfound art to approach with the Opera’s “El Festival de Frida y Diego.”
A prominent and unique amenity of Park & Market is the Guggenheim Theatre that allows almost anyone to walk in and create. The 3,400 square-foot black box theater has a capacity for 200 seats/ 300 standing and elevates any event or act with amazing acoustics, automated theatrical LED lighting system and PTZ camera system for live streaming and video conferencing webinars. “This brand-new technology gives the opportunity for memorable interactive experiences, whether it be a black-tie event or transformative solo artist” notes Andrew Waltz.
La Jolla residents, David and Claire Guggenheim aid to the urban farming of culture by generously providing $1 million for the Guggenheim Theatre as a culmination of their involvement with the arts at UC San Diego for over three decades. “Claire and I feel the Guggenheim Theatre will provide a modern, configurable space for many of our local performing arts organizations, for in-person and Zoom classes, and many other uses,” said David Guggenheim. “We are excited that Park & Market, with its downtown location, will help expose UC San Diego to a whole new audience, to many underserved individuals who might have felt a disconnect with the La Jolla campus. In addition, we hope that Park & Market will bring together the brightest minds and organizations who will work together to help address some of the region’s most pressing challenges – from making our city more livable to improving transportation and lowering our carbon footprint.”