L.A. City Council decides against ending guaranteed funding for the arts
The Los Angeles City Council decided Wednesday not to cut off the main funding source for the Department of Cultural Affairs, a 1% tax on hotel charges that has fed municipal spending on the arts since 1989.
As they tried to cope with a projected two-year budget deficit of nearly $700 million, council members also showed no inclination to back another proposal decried by arts supporters: eliminating the $4-million-a-year arts grant program starting in the 2010-11 budget year. But the council did authorize staff members to pursue another cost-cutting idea from Miguel Santana, the city administrative officer -- seeking private, nonprofit partners to take over running nine or 10 of the city's community arts centers.
More than 30 arts supporters spoke at the City Hall hearing on the budget proposals -- among them artist Lilia Ramirez (pictured), who came in an angel costume as "a homage to the city of L.A." and told council members that "art saved me. I was in the streets, I wasn't doing so good. ... Here I am today, giving love and light to everyone."
Scores of others looked on, sporting red stick-on badges proclaiming their support for the arts.
"This is the first time the arts community was able to mobilize in such an effective way," said Danielle Brazell, executive director of the arts advocacy group Arts for L.A. "The arts locked arms and we were one community, and that's extraordinary."
Now, Brazell said, it will be important for that community to try to muster private donations for city cultural programs that are still likely to face funding cuts because of the budget crisis.
For the full story, click here.
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Artist Lilia Ramirez spreads her wings during Wednesday's hearing on budget cuts at L.A. City Hall. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times