The ARTS Center is a “3rd Place” dedicated to multidisciplinary arts for students to engage in after school and on weekends. The students and staff have co-created the space, ensuring youth feel a sense of ownership and empowerment.

School and home is where I have to keep secrets. ARTS is where I can let them all out.
Stephanie, ARTS Alumni

The ARTS Center campus—interior and exterior—is an evolving work of art that reflects the diverse, inspirational sensibilities of our youth. Functional and aesthetic elements utilize up-cycled and repurposed materials, which reinforces our values of creative environmental stewardship.

ARTS offers year-round programming, including a wide variety of classes, workshops, fieldtrips, and experiences in dedicated spaces with professional equipment and teaching artists, including:



200 East 12th Street
National City, CA 91950

Phone (619) 297-ARTS (2787)


Administration Entrance (west side):
Monday-Friday: 9am to 5pm

Program Entrance (north side):
Monday-Friday: 3pm to 7:30pm
Saturday hours vary, please call for more information.

We offer a wide variety of classes, workshops, fieldtrips, and experiences year-round in functional and dedicated spaces with professional equipment and teaching artist in the following departments:

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts Department provides a variety of 2D and 3D classes and workshops for students, including drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, recycled art and mixed media.

Danny Riley Music

Danny Riley was a talented musician, writer, and artist who passed away from brain cancer in 2007. Danny used the power of music to help himself through the difficult battle with cancer. We offer a variety of music classes and workshops, including strings, percussion, horns, music theory, voice, sonic exploration, recording, and ensembles..

Murray Galinson Media Arts

The Media Arts Department provides opportunities in photography, film, graphic design, digital imaging, podcasting, and animation.

Performing Arts

The Performing Arts Department offers opportunities in theatre, creative movement, hip-hop, and break dancing.

Literary Arts

The Literary Arts Department provides opportunities for students in creative writing, short stories, poetry, and personal narratives.

Rokenbok Industrial Arts

The Rokenbok Industrial Arts Department offers opportunities in design, woodworking, welding, fabrication, and community art.  This department serves as a focal point for the Creating Vibrant Neighborhoods Initiative public art projects, and the Upcycled Furniture Collection.

Culinary Arts

Through partnerships with local farms and chefs, we provide opportunities for students to learn how to prepare and cook healthy food.

Teen Lounge

The Teen Lounge is dedicated space with books, magazines, chairs and tables for our teen artists, teaching artists and mentors to hang out and share creative ideas for projects and workshops.


The ARTS Center also houses a professional gallery to showcase and sell students’ artwork, and celebrate their accomplishments.

About National City

A Reason To Survive (ARTS) is based in National City, CA which is located just five minutes south of downtown San Diego and about 10 minutes north of the Mexico boarder. It is a hard working, culturally diverse, and proud community focused on the industrial and manufacturing industries, the Navy, and small businesses.

Residents are 63% Hispanic, 20% Asian/Pacific Islander, 10% White, 5% Black, and 2% other. National City is San Diego County’s poorest community with the highest rates of violent crime (6.29/1,000; countywide average 3.77/1,000), significant health disparities (obesity, diabetes and more) and poverty (23%+ of individuals). About one-quarter of the City’s residents are 18 years or younger, with only one-third completing high school or equivalent.

The Role of ARTS in National City

The ARTS Center Campus is located at Kimball Park and consists of 2 buildings making up 20,000 sq. ft. of dedicated creative space. The main building was once the town library and the second building was the old city Recreation Center. Next to these buildings is the MLK Community Center which houses community performance space and an industrial kitchen, which is incorporated into the ARTS Nutrition and Culinary Arts Program.

National City’s overall goals are to improve the quality of life, enhance housing and community assets, and promote a healthy community. The City included the creation of a cultural arts and education district in their general plan. ARTS is the lead developer of the Arts District, and the ARTS Center Campus is the epicenter for this initiative.