Garcetti and a few of his pals on the LA City Council have put together a motion that will adversely affect the growth of the arts in LA by eliminating dedicated funding for the Department of Cultural Affairs. Specifically Motion 56 will divert the funds currently going to them from the hotel tax back to the general fund. There is no provision in the motion to reinstate the funding at a later date.
What can you do to help prevent this from happening? Attend a Letter-Writing Party tonight hosted by the Angels Gate Cultural Center and the Grand Vision Foundation in San Pedro. Everything you will need from pre-drafted letters to pens for your signature will be provided. If you care to write your own custom letter, or can’t attend tonight’s letter writing party, visit Marshall Astor’s blog here.
The impact of this move is far reaching. It isn’t entirely about robbing one source to pay another. Should it pass staffing (IE more direct unemployment) will result as well as end grants that support local artists and arts organizations. Rippling out will be the loss of art for the community and jobs that are related to promotion and sale of art.
Time is of the essence as it is to be presented and up for vote on February 3. If you can’t write, plan on attending and stating your position and with supporting arguments if possible.
Hat tip to Marshall Astor at the Angels Gate Cultural Center for alerting me to all of this. I’m working with him for additional information on why this is such a bad idea and will post additional information when it is available.
Details: Feb 1, 5:30-8PM, the Grand Annex 434 W. 6th St.San Pedro 90731
UPDATE 6PM. I asked Marshall Astor 5 questions to better understand why Measure 56 is important and how it will affect the city and him. I got answers to that and more. There may be one additional letter writing campaign tomorrow night. To read the 5 questions you need to make the jump.
Update 2/2 Phone bank information and numbers to call added by Marshall Astor in the comments. Don’t miss you chance to be heard.
1.Why should a non-artist care about the loss of funds for the Dept of Cultural Affairs?
Everyone should care. The Department of Cultural Affairs programming and grants primarily support arts education throughout the City of Los Angeles. If you have children, they may already be receiving arts education that’s supported by the Department. The DCA has 18 art centers that provide regular cultural programming, including the Watts Towers. If you care and love the Watts Towers, this is important to you. If you’ve ever gone to see a film, music or theater production at the Warner Grand Theatre, this matters to you. If you are a small business, like a restaurant, that is adjacent to a DCA supported performing arts organization, you will see less customers as those organizations shut down or cancel programming.
The elimination of the grants program will have long reaching effects that no one understands and that certainly haven’t been studied by the people proposing these cuts. No one knows how many jobs outside the DCA will vanish because of this. It’s my opinion that the City Council and the Chief Administrative Officer are engaged in budget surgery in the dark here. They are trying to make decisions fast and recklessly that are best made in a considered manner.
2.What projects at Angel’s Gate will be affected by the loss of direct grants?
Angels Gate gets grants from the DCA to fund its gallery program. Should the next round of DCA grants be eliminated, I will be forced to cancel or cut back on the scope of upcoming exhibitions, beginning June 1, 2010. If the CEI program is canceled, we will have to seek alternative funding for our upcoming Korean residency project or cancel it entirely. I don’t know if it will affect staff salaries or positions at Angels Gate. That’s the immediate impact.
3.How will this affect the city of LA long term?
The City of Los Angeles is a global culture and art capital. Cities need a cultural life to survive. There’s a whole cultural economy going in LA, from the art show at your local coffee shop to the production of /Avatar/. There needs to be some City agency that participates in and supports that. The proposed cuts will decimate the hard work of individuals at scores of non-profits throughout the city, damaging programs that have been decades in the making. How many decades will it take for us just get back to where we are now? LA is in an arts renaissance right now and it’s not hard for me to imagine an exodus of the artists and arts professionals who have made that possible. It would lead to a contraction of the cultural life of the City. Under Olga Garay, the current Executive Director of the DCA, the Department has begun to engage in the kind of international programming that is necessary to make LA take its place on the world stage. If the Department’s budget is cut right now, I don’t know if we’re going to have that opportunity again for a long time.
4.This appears to be a rob peter to pay Paul situation, what argument is there to maintain the funding as opposed to being funneled back to the general fund to pay for say, police or fire staffing?
The LAPD budget approaches $1 billion a year, if I recall correctly. I’m not going to argue in favour of cutting police and fire instead of arts, but I’m certain that the City can find ways to add efficiency there, and I’d be willing to bet that you could fit the entire budget of the DCA inside of that efficiency. I don’t think they’re robbing the DCA to pay for police and fire, but given that every $1 invested in the arts brings $8 into the City, these cuts may cost more than they save in the long run, and that’s just on a budget level.
5.2D or 3D art, which is your favorite, why?
I’m going with 3D on this one. I love things that are tactile and crafted. I trained as a jeweler and have made a lot of sculpture and I just love things you want to run you hands over. I don’t like assemblage or “sloppy conceptualism” in sculpture, though. Nothing is worse than someone who goes to art school for six years and comes out patting themselves on the back because they learned to use glitter and hot glue.