Forums begin as Costa Mesa collects input on its first Arts & Culture Master Plan


Costa Mesa, the self-titled City of the Arts, is embarking on its first Arts & Culture Master Plan.

The public process began in earnest Tuesday with a meeting at the Costa Mesa Senior Center. It was the first of six such forums scheduled over the next two weeks.

The end result will be a document that details the city’s current arts and cultural offerings and lays out a blueprint for policies, programs and physical development in those areas in coming years, said Richard Stein, president and chief executive of Arts Orange County, which Costa Mesa has retained to help develop the master plan.


Work on the plan ramped up in January and likely will take several more months to complete, Stein said. So far, he and his team have interviewed almost 60 people and launched an online survey.

“We are here to listen and not to tell you what is best for Costa Mesa, for your community,” Stein told the audience of about 15 people at Tuesday’s forum. “We want to open up your minds and have you share that with us.”

Justin Martin, Costa Mesa’s parks and community services director, said the master plan concept has been “on the back burner for a few years.”

It’s vital to collect comprehensive feedback from the public, he added, because the plan will help guide the development of arts and cultural efforts and resources in the city over the next 10 to 20 years.

“We might be small in numbers tonight, but we’ll be strong with our initiative and get a lot of good input,” Martin said.

Over about an hour and a half, those at the meeting used sticky notes to jot down ideas for how the city can better support and grow the arts locally and suggestions on new programs or amenities to explore.

Matt Lehrman — a consultant with Audience Avenue LLC who also is working on the master plan — told the audience to dream big.

“Tonight is about generating ideas, and there are no bad ideas,” he said. “We’re just trying to get as much as we can on the table.”

When participants compared their notes, common themes included the desire to install more public art, develop new outdoor artistic space — such as performance areas in local parks — and find additional ways to support art education.

Another forum was scheduled for Wednesday morning at Costa Mesa City Hall. The others are:

  • Thursday, noon, Balearic Community Center, 1975 Balearic Drive
  • April 5, 6 p.m., Kaiser Elementary School, 2130 Santa Ana Ave.
  • April 6, 1 p.m., City Hall, 77 Fair Drive
  • April 7, 10 a.m., Senior Center, 695 W. 19th St.

The online survey for the master plan is available in English at and in Spanish at

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