L.A. City Council feels heat over a proposal to shut off the municipal arts-funding pipeline
L.A.'s arts community has swung into advocacy mode, peppering city council members with e-mails urging them not to short-circuit the guaranteed funding that has fed the municipal arts agency since 1989.
With city officials trying to eliminate a nearly $700-million budget gap, the chief cause for alarm among arts supporters is the proposed repeal of the law that creates a direct pipeline between hotel tax receipts and the Department of Cultural Affairs. The department's $9.6-million budget relies almost entirely on its special tax earmark of $1 per $100 in hotel room charges.
The message may be getting through: Eric Garcetti, the city council's president, stepped back Tuesday from the position he had appeared to take as one of six members who proposed or seconded a motion that the council will take up at Wednesday's meeting, repealing the arts-funding guarantee.
Garcetti said that ideas for coping with the budget crisis are flying furiously at City Hall, and that the arts proposal was intended to launch discussion, rather than settle the issue.
Garcetti said he would not support a permanent repeal of the arts agency's tourism tax lifeline -- or a temporary one that takes away all of the Cultural Affairs Department's cut of the hotel tax, which comes to about $10 million a year. That's what the pending proposal would do, but the council president said, "I can guarantee you it's not going to pass" without amendments. Severe cuts to the city's arts grant program are also under consideration.
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-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Council president. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times