By Lookout Staff
October 2, 2023 -- The director of community services for Beverly Hills has been hired to run Santa Monica's newly established Recreation and Arts Department, City officials announced Friday.
The department also is "reframing" City Hall's historic murals, which have been criticized as being racist, and "leveraging" the Annenberg Community Beach House as a tourist destination, officials said.
Jenny Rogers will lead a department launched in July under the current $745 million Fiscal Year budget that will focus on restoring, expanding and creating programs, City officials said.
Under Rogers -- an artist who has worked in both theater and government for three decades -- the department will reimagine the future of the Miles Memorial Playhouse at Reed Park and the Camera Obscura building in Palisades Park.
“I am thrilled to bring Jenny on board and jumpstart the great work of the newly formed Recreation and Arts Department,” City Manager Davis White said in a statement.
“Her vast experience and talent will be invaluable in uplifting arts, culture and recreation services and programs that enrich lives and help people thrive,” White said.
Throughout her government career, which began with the Cultural Arts divisions of Santa Francisco city and county, Rogers "has collaborated to enhance recreation programs and facilities," City officials said.
Her accomplishments include "increasing recreation class enrollment with innovative marketing" and "adding new community events," officials said.
She also is credited with "increasing cost recovery at community centers and launching a 'neighbors helping neighbors' social service program," officials said.
Rogers, who has held director roles at the City of Mill Valley and the Harvey Milk Center for the Arts, also has "led efforts to launch several new and innovative community events, including the Beverly Hills Artwalk and MADE in Beverly Hills celebration."
Santa Monica's new Recreation and Arts Department was established during a major restructuring of City Hall that also saw the creation of a new Housing and Human Services Department.
In addition to launching major initiatives, the department will work to further restore library hours and services, increase capacity for youth programs and continue funding the Playground Club.
Rogers graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s degree in Art and Semiotics and holds a master’s degree in Fine Art specializing in Digital and New Media from Pennsylvania State University, where she was the first University Fellow for the School of Visual Arts.
She will join the city on October 9 with an annual salary of $227,772.
“I believe public service is a calling and the critical services we provide create community, and it is deeply gratifying to serve a place and a people so closely aligned with my own values,” Rogers said.
“Santa Monica is such a special place, and this is such a unique chapter in the city," she said in a statement.
"I look forward to working collaboratively with the community and city staff in support of existing facilities and programs and in creation of a diverse array of new recreation offerings, public art and cultural events."