“The fact that San Diego
Dana Springs takes center stage at the Old
globe Theatre, introducing the opening night
of Plays by Young Writers. And yes, that’s a
copy of Triton magazine in her hand.
offers amazing arts and
culture that we can all enjoy
in a relaxed, beautiful
setting is our signature.”
the arts and culture that San Diego had
to offer. While visiting local theaters
and museums, she began to notice the
Commission for Arts and Culture logo
and grew curious about the organization.
Out of sheer curiosity, Springs picked
up the phone, called the Commission’s
office, and asked if they had any job
openings. It was a bold move, but she
was in luck—four months later she started
as the public art program assistant.
A DECADE AnD A HAlF l ATER, Springs is
now leading the organization she decided to
call out of the blue. She is now responsible
for managing not only the Commission’s
reputation, but also its relationships with
constituents. But the transition from
managing projects to managing people
wasn’t easy, Springs says. “I’m still figuring
out the best way to prioritize my duties,”
she admits, yet through a career of
transition, her enthusiastic attitude and
commitment to art prevail.
A large part of Springs’ job includes
entering the local community to attend art
openings and performances. As the face
of the Commission, she’s a public figure
who must be “on” when out in the world,
a facet of her job in which her education
in performance proves extremely helpful.
This is where I meet Springs again—
out on the town where she is truly in her
element. She has come to speak at The
Old Globe Theatre for the opening night
of Plays by Young Writers, a program by
the San Diego Playwrights Project. As we
walk into the Globe, Springs scopes out
the crowd and all the young playwrights,
no doubt assessing how representative
they are of arts and culture in San Diego.
And indeed they are—throughout the
night, we see four different productions
by young play wrights, all reflective of
their own cultures and journeys. During
a brief intermission, I have to relinquish
Springs’ attention to the crowd of people
who have gathered to chat with her—from
the principal of a local high school to an
artist pitching an idea for a new project.
ACCORDing TO SPRingS, it’s this kind
of enthusiasm that lets San Diego occupy
a distinct place in the art world. It’s a
city that’s cosmopolitan enough to be
interesting and dynamic, but still casual
enough to be comfortable. The unique
nature of San Diego, with its nontraditional
work lifestyle (think anti- 9-5), allows for
greater creativity from local innovators.
“The fact that San Diego offers
amazing arts and culture that we can
all enjoy in a relaxed, beautiful setting
is our signature,” says Springs.
A special reward of her role occurred
when her connection with UC San Diego
came full circle. While a student,
Springs studied under dance professors
Patricia Rincon and Jean Isaacs, as
well as then-teaching assistant Roman
de Salvo. She relished the chance to
work with them all again, this time in
her governmental role, when they all
received funding from the Commission
for their local dance companies.
Springs credits her UC San Diego
education for shaping her career trajectory,
but not in the way most people think when
they hear of her degree in visual arts.
“I couldn’t paint something if I wanted
to,” she admits. “But I could talk to you
about art all day long. I can translate
the concepts and ideas that need to be
translated to certain audiences. It’s an
unusual combination: the teaching about
ideas, then the ability I learned in the
advertising agency to balance business
interests with creative interests.”
For others from UCSD interested in
pursuing a career in the visual arts, Springs
offers two bits of advice: be a good writer
and learn how to manage heartbreak.
“When you’ve worked hard on something
and then something about it fails, you have
to develop the skill to not become bitter or
closed,” she notes. “It really comes down to
being resilient. There’s a million ways to
be resilient if you have strong creativity.”
It was that resilience and boldness
that put Springs where she is today—
from center stage of The Old Globe to
the office downtown that she has turned
into an expression of herself—all of it in
service of bringing art to San Diego.
“There is more drama going on in this
office than there is in any movie theater
across America,” she says. “I have never
been bored at my desk, not one time.
I have some interesting, bizarre new
problem to solve every day. The fact that
the problems are related to arts and culture
makes it that much more rewarding.”
Dana sPrinGs teLLs aLL!
Go online for the inside stories behind the
making of selected San Diego public art
installations, including Central Library’s
bright blue chairs.
Visit TRi TOnmAg.COm/SDART