OCEAN CITY — Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian talked about art on Tuesday.

As the featured speaker at the Ocean City Arts Center’s annual membership meeting, Guardian explained how the arts could take on a greater role in his seaside city.

“I think, over the last few years, we’ve realized how important arts are, culturally for people, for my residents,” Guardian said. “But it’s also a good economic engine for the city.”

He listed recent arts initiatives in the city, from the Noyes Arts Garage, where there are about a dozen artists in residence, to the Atlantic City Ballet, which returned to the city shortly after Guardian took office and performs at Boardwalk Hall. He described little-known secrets in the city, such as a walk on the bay behind the Borgata where there are 20 pieces of art.

“That’s a little hidden gem we have in Atlantic City,” Guardian said. “You almost have to be in the know.”

Other reasons for art lovers to come to Atlantic City include the annual Garden State Film Festival, Dante Hall and the Holtzman Gallery at the Claridge Hotel, Guardian said.

“The arts is just another reason to play in Atlantic City,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be in a casino.”

Guardian said he envisions a symphony at the future Stockton University campus and an arts district on Mississippi Avenue, where artists could live and work in affordable townhouses.

“The arts is just another reason to play in Atlantic City,” he said.

For an hour at least, there was no talk of a potential Atlantic City bankruptcy, a looming state takeover or an impending City Hall shutdown. Still, the city’s shaky finances fitted into the discussion when a man asked about the future Atlantic City Arts Center at Garden Pier

“I’m really looking for a nonprofit that will be able to take it over,” Guardian said. “The city, financially, can’t afford to be running it, unfortunately.”

Contact: 609-272-7215

Twitter @_Hetrick

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