L.A. arts layoffs raise concerns for neighborhood arts centers
The city's Department of Cultural Affairs will lose seven staff members on April 1, with more cuts expected by July 1 as the weight of huge projected citywide budget deficits begins to hit home.
The cuts include the directors of the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro and the William Grant Still Arts Center in West Adams. Olga Garay, the department's executive director, says she'll try to shuffle remaining staff to keep those facilities open.
Both are on a list of nine city-owned arts centers where the government hopes to lay off staff and recruit private nonprofit groups to take over as operators.
Supporters of two arts centers in Hollywood's Barnsdall Park and two others next to the Watts Towers already have told a committee of the City Council that they're concerned about the haste of the privatization plan; the full council will likely get an earful at its meeting on Wednesday.
The worst-case scenario: Private operators don't come forward to take over all the centers the city hopes to unload -- whereupon the discussion could focus on City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana's recommendation that the council consider closing or selling them.
-- Mike Boehm
Photo: Olga Garay, executive director of L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs, at the Warner Grand Theatre. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times