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L.A. City Council decides against ending guaranteed funding for the arts

February 4, 2010 |  7:09 am


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


Budget shortfall puts L.A. arts agency funding on the chopping block

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

Comments () | Archives (7)

Stunning. The City's fiscal house is burning, and this Council continues to entertain diletantes. Anyone still wondering why huge swaths of this once-great city are now Third World cesspools?

This was an important day for Arts for LA and the collective art community that has gathered in many corners of the internet. There were thousands of letters written speaking out against foolish de-investment in the arts and every single advocate made a difference!

I wish this could be the last time we have to stand up for arts budgets, but it won't be. Michael Alexander, a member of the California Arts Council said to me that they always try to slash art budgets first because they think we won't make a stand (as opposed to say, police budgets). This is the latest example of artists and art lovers taking a stand against budget slashing, and I wish it could be the last.

For politicians and bureaucrats going after the arts, keep this campaign in mind. Also keep in mind the campaigns to save the UCLA Arts Library and LACMA's film program. We're watching over our industry, even if we don't have expensive lobbyists and ad campaigns.

I would hardly call the arts community in Los Angeles "diletantes". If anything, the majority of visual and performing artists in this city are working for next to nothing, and providing the city with the cultural soil from which young people grow into responsible and caring citizens. This cultural soil also grows artists who move on to the film and television and recording industry, which provides this city with the bulk of its tourism income.

For a fraction, literally, of the City's budget, the Department of Cultural Affairs provides support for these artists, but not enough to keep them from needing to raise income from other grants, donations, ticket sales, merchandise sales, some of which comes from outside the city, but is spent locally, enhancing the city's economy.

The city faces a 400 million shortfall, but gutting a 4 million dollar program that is support by just 1% of our hotel taxes is, a person said yesterday, like breaking open your kid's piggybank to make your mortgage payment. Makes no sense and is not very forward thinking.

As they are privatizing ten DCA sites, this obviously isnt over. This depression may have hit bottom, but its a long way to get back to where we were, its gonna take years and jsut now finally facing the reality. Been sayng this for at least five. We dug a hole, and cutting the wasted grant money is next. Though the 1% hotel tax may stand, other funding is already dried up, just placating the masses til they make the final cuts, waiting far too long at at quite a cost in doing so.

Some rich patrons made their calls, but reality is what it is, there is no money. a few thousand artists doesnt me squat, not in a city of over 3 million. It is time for the rich to put their money in real arts, instead of the amusements of MoCa and such. Time to save the Watts Towers, the City has neglected this great resource for far too long, and they will continue to decay. Outside ideas and patrons now can come in, the bureaucracy and Academic pressures have kept it and all art in the status quo of entertaining the rich. It is now time to reach out and reflect LA as a whole. Art hasnt in decades.

But the City has very little art influence outside of the DCA, the county spends far greater amounts. Luckily Govan is the ultimate schmoozer fundraiser, just like Vilaraigosa. They should be fine, even if he loses his dreams of a hanging locomotive and new sterile starchetect buildings. The ones they got are fine. Paint em, like on my blog below. I dont care what colors, well, actually I do. Academics have absolutely no feel for color, it's all bland and clever, never filled with life and passion. But can be done for cheap and made into a center for LA to gather, rather than just a small and inbred artscene. Its our taxes, lets use them wisely. It is not FOR artistes, they have a roll and job to do, it is time they started to fulfill their purpose. Meism is dead, it is how we got into this mess. It is about Us, not I.

art collegia delenda est
Save the Watts Towers, tear down the Ivories.

Nothing has happened. The council wussed out, how LA of it, and simply put off for a month any decision, putting the city more in debt, and guaranteeing more layoffs. Of essential services, health, education, water and eneregy services, police, anythign and everything.

It will be taken up again, face it, we dug a hole, its OUR fault for running up the credit card til it defaulted. We got greedy. And now we will pay, reality has a tendency to do that.

Donald - why are you on culture monster daily yet your blog has not be updated since December 31, 2009? You constantly point us to your blog yet it remains the same. Your blog is the place for your rants not Culture Monster.

Clean up Culture Monster or better yet, remove the comments section completely. The Times writers are writers not bloggers. Don't treat them as such. They deserve better than to be subjected to comments from the peanut gallery.

Why? The press is supposed to point out what they feel is wrong with the government, so who is supposed to point out the failings of the press? And they are legion. Since the days of Watergate,when have you EVER heard of a corroborating indepdenat second source? Doesnt happen anymore, nor checking data, facts are a lie anyway, and what is gussied as reviews are truly to support the art industry. Just like the hundreds of film reviewers out there are to make that industry look good. Brownosing seems to be the biggest art form at the moment. Broad their god as they grovvel in abject toadyism at his feet. Fighting for scraps of bread like rats.

My blog is essays, you know, a lost art form of well documented and supported ideas, not self serving carrerist dogerel. I do use it as a base for others to see where i am coming from, but it is always about real ideas, things lost in the age of "conceptualism" when it is small and irrelevant ideas about making the "creator" look intelligent. frontin all the way baby. You dont like what i write, then say so, and most importantly WHY. You hahvent so far, few do here. They just have hissy fits. Because it hurts their precious sense of self. Guess what, art is not about YOU.

I appreciate LACMA on Fire becaue though i know he doesnt agree, he doesnt edit either, Nor my boys at Hungry Hyaena or Art News Blog, though he seems to be on walkabout these days. LACMA itself wimped out long ago, cant take criticism. Where is this vaunted dialogue in art? If it says anything that goes against its self importance, it gets deleted. Where is the discussion with illustrations and documentation of support, rather than toys and posing as creators of subjective truth, when Truth has evolved from millenia of human culture? I get whiners, not well documented arguments. Socrates would be appaled, as the Sophists took over art long ago. He took hemlock rather than listen to them prattle on forever. Lucky old dude



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