This fall, the City of Dana Point will send a delegation to formally sign a Friendship City agreement with Sorrento, Italy to forge a strong relationship of collaborative cultural exchanges.
During its July 18 meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to send Mayor Mike Frost, Mayor Pro Tem Jamey Federico and one staff member as part of a delegation to Dana Point’s friendship city.
The City of Dana Point entered a Friendship City Agreement with Sorrento in December 2022 as a first step toward pursuing a Sister City relationship with the Italian city.
The Sister City concept began during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency as a “people-to-people, common-sense approach to world peace,” according to a city staff report.
Looking to further develop its relationship with the City of Sorrento, Dana Point will send a delegation to the Italian town in October, including city officials, local artists and members of community organizations.
“We will engage with the City of Sorrento to increase our local cultural understanding and establish a framework to support Dana Point artist exhibitions and create a student exchange program,” Federico said in a media release.
City Manager Mike Killebrew explained during the July 18 meeting that the Dana Point Sister Cities nonprofit is working on interactions with international cities such as a pen pal program and other cultural exchanges.
Killebrew added that sending a delegation to formally sign documents to solidify international relationships is a “well-established practice.”
Federico said the City of Sorrento created a special parchment for the Friendship Agreement and invited Dana Point’s city officials to travel to Italy to formally sign the document.
“The optics of having the mayor, mayor pro tem is important to them,” Federico said.
The Friendship City agreement is the first step toward a formal Sister City agreement, Federico explained.
“If the cities find mutual benefit, they will then sign a formal Sister City agreement,” Federico said. “The benefits to having a sister city like that are the cultural exchange programs.”
While visiting Sorrento, Federico noted that he and Frost would be meeting with one of the local high schools to work toward creating an exchange program.
Federico added that the Dana Point Sister City nonprofit and the City of Dana Point will send artists to display their work in Sorrento this fall as part of a visual arts exchange, and Italian artists will be invited to Dana Point as well.
During the trip, five Dana Point artists will display their art pieces at the Cloisters at St. Francis in Sorrento.
Under the council’s vote this month, the city also approved a $10,000 sponsorship of Dana Point Sister Cities to support local artists to exhibit their work in Sorrento as a part of the trip.
In addition to musical and visual arts and food exchanges, there’s a direct economic benefit to the city from tourism, according to Federico.
“In the long run, there’s a lot of economic benefit from tourism exchange, but the cultural, I think, is valuable,” Federico said. “I don’t know how you put a dollar amount cost on that, but I would love to see 10 years from now, healthy exchanges between our schools, maybe our hotels, internship programs, certainly bringing artists back and forth, and I think there’s value in that.”
The city will also extend an invitation for Sorrento to send a delegation to visit Dana Point in Spring 2024, aiming to have the group visit during the annual Festival of Whales weekend.
“I look forward to what the Dana Point Sister Cities International organization will do to advance this relationship and what it will mean to our city,” Federico said in the media release. “Long-term, this relationship will lead to cultural opportunities for our residents and economic opportunities for our tourism industry.”