• Cassie Kaawaloa

Meet Victoria Hamilton

In San Diego’s culturally-diverse yet under-served Diamond neighborhoods, Victoria Hamilton is the Arts and Culture Advocate at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to revitalize more than 60 acres of San Diego’s Southeastern neighborhoods and develop the community into a vibrant and economically sustainable destination.

Victoria brings nearly 40 years of nationally recognized leadership and experience in non-profit and governmental local, state and national arts organizations to this role, including 24 years as the founding Executive Director of the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.

Through the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, she supports programs that partner with artists, residents, local leaders and organizations to advance arts and culture in Jacobs Center Town Center Master Plan development. The Jacobs Center’s key areas of focus, including physical redevelopment, education to career programming and local economy, help build capacity for advancing southeastern San Diego and for residents to lead locally, own community assets, and be financially sustainable. The Jacobs Center facilitates physical redevelopment through investments in infrastructure, housing, commercial/retail, public art and recreational/green space that convey that the Diamond is a rising and connected place for future investment.

In her early career Victoria worked for a city/county arts council in Tacoma, Washington that placed an emphasis on neighborhood arts programming and public art. This would guide much of her career in arts and culture, as she continues to prioritize awareness of the needs, history, infrastructure and residents of neighborhoods to inform programming and advocate for public policy and funding. In 1988, Victoria moved to San Diego from Santa Barbara, where she was executive director for the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, to lead the newly formed Commission for Arts and Culture.

Under her leadership at the Commission Victoria established a multi-million dollar arts and culture allocations program to fund over 120 organizations under the Organizational Support Program and Creative Communities San Diego - originally conceived as the Neighborhood Arts Program and later combined with the Festivals and Celebrations grant programs to fund nonprofits facilitating creative placemaking in their communities. She developed a City of San Diego Public Art Master Plan unanimously adopted by the Mayor and the San Diego City Council that increased support for public art through dedicated “set aside” funding in capital improvement projects and private development. She also led the “Penny for the Arts” initiative to raise allocated percentages of Transient Occupancy Tax earmarked for arts and culture funding. The five year plan to double arts funding was unanimously adopted by the City Council in 2012.

With her wealth of experience, Victoria recognizes the need for adequate funding and resources to ensure success for arts organization. While policy makers are proud to recognize the arts in their communities, she believes they need to commit to providing forums for exchange and opportunities to build coalitions, and create platforms to strengthen and acknowledge how their work allows artists to flourish and communities to thrive.

Beyond her work locally, Victoria is the president of both California Arts Advocates and Californians for the Arts. From empowering volunteer leadership boards, to forming strategic alliances and innovative arts and culture programs and partnerships, Victoria’s accomplishments reflect her dedication to advancing financial and political support of arts and culture in San Diego, in California and across the country.