By Salomon Maya
It was the summer of 1990. I was a cute, albeit stout newcomer to the theatre scene in San Diego. Blue eyes surrounded by pudgy cheeks showing off a reddish hue as I stepped out of my mothers car. I was 10 years old and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. In front of me stood the Casa Del Prado Theatre in Balboa Park, home to Junior Theatre, and I was going to start taking acting classes.
It didn’t take long before I was hooked on these acting classes. I was with my own … other artistic people. And wouldn’t you know it … I was pretty damn good. That summer, auditions were being held for Charlotte’s Web. I picked up my big boy pants and auditioned, thinking I would probably get a small role. But two nights later, my mom and I received the call that I was going to play Wilbur the Pig, one of the leads. I later came to hear that the director cast me because I had huge cheeks and resembled a pig. But screw it! I was a leading man now.
I attended Junior Theatre for three years. I had a lot of firsts there. I had my first crush and my first broken heart. I had my first onstage blooper. The first time I saw my parents proud of what I had done. I knew I wanted to be an actor.
The arts for me isn’t just a place I can surround myself with people who think and talk like me. It’s a security blanket. Theater allows me to escape the ugliness of this world, as well as bathe in its beauty. And now, the Mayor of San Diego in his latest budget plan wishes to cut funding to the arts by a third. Funding that allows local theaters to provide free shows for students, military personnel and much more. I implore if you’re reading this and care, please reach out to your local councilperson and ask that the Council not cut funding to the arts.
I’m an actor today because sometimes I need to escape my own mind and body and encompass another character. People who go see this process and are patrons of the arts in a way are too escaping the reality that surrounds us. In 2016, Mayor Faulconer allowed the Chargers to leave for Los Angeles, now he’s cutting the arts. For what? San Diego is better than that. We should embrace art and continue to strive in being a beacon for artists and the like. It is them and the people who support them that continue to make this America’s finest city.