Santa Ana Residents Discuss How to Build a Strong Arts Infrastructure

David Washburn/Voice of OC

A mural in downtown Santa Ana.

Over 100 community members came together last week to take part in the first official Santa Ana arts roundtable discussion.

The gathering is part of an effort to form connections across the Santa Ana arts scene with the help of artists, arts organizations, and arts educators.

Hosted by Downtown Santa and the Santa Ana Unified School District, the meeting was an opportunity for residents to voice their opinions on evolving the arts programs throughout the city.

Before the official discussion began, attendees enjoyed music by the Santa Ana High School jazz band.

The participants were divided into small discussion groups and given this overall question: How can we build a knitted and networked infrastructure for arts in Santa Ana with clear bridges between education and real life applications while assuring that the arts remain equitable and accessible for all?

“A lot of people gravitate towards art that is based on a story about the city,” said Brian Peterson, the artist behind the collection “The Faces of Santa Ana.” “This community faces a lot of daily issues and those are the things that our art should be focusing on.”

A major theme that remained consistent in all conversations was that students should be able to explore different skills so they can realize that subjects like art and math are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

“We have to educate people to be able to represent themselves so that everyone can bring their own different set of skills to the same table,” said Victor Payan.

Maria Guzman, a Santa Ana High School senior and member of the orchestra, said arts need to be emphasized in the same way as sports.

“Arts should not feel so separate and they should be praised more consistently,” Guzman said.

Denice Moritz praised the revival of art movements as she mentioned, “I have been a resident in Santa Ana for almost 30 years and while we have had arts for a long time, I am excited to be a part of this new movement within the city”

Vanessa Sandoval is a Santa Ana resident and UC Irvine Literary Journalism major. She can be reached at