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L.A. City Council members scrape for money to keep arts centers open

March 25, 2010 | 11:00 am


The Los Angeles City Council started cracking open municipal piggy banks Wednesday, hoping it could shake loose enough change to keep the city's network of neighborhood arts centers in place amid a budget crisis.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn anted up $9,000 that had been designated for bus shelter furniture in her district. It'll be used to delay the layoff of one art instructor in Watts from April 1 to July 1 -- if the city attorney deems the switch legal.

Potentially more far-reaching is a proposal by the council's art, parks, health and aging committee -- Tom LaBonge, Ed Reyes and Herb Wesson -- to tap a pot of money fed by a city law that requires L.A. to deposit 1% of the cost of all government capital construction projects into a fund for arts. The uses are restricted to such things as purchasing public art and funding new arts facilities, but on Friday the council expects to take up a motion to allow the fund, which LaBonge said contains more than $5 million, to spend money on  arts center operations as well.

LaBonge said his committee favors spending about $600,000 a year from the fund to keep arts centers staffed, which would buy a year or two for a controversial proposal to seek private operators for seven more centers, on top of the 10 already run by private nonprofit groups. The city has 25 neighborhood centers in all.

Critics say that the current plan to privatize additional centers by July 1 to save operating costs is hasty and could lead to crippling damage by making a well-planned transition impossible. A rally at the Watts Towers on Wednesday morning protested plans to include the two arts centers next to the towers among those to be taken private. Later, Hahn, who represents Watts and had put them on the privatization list, said she was taking them off.

For the full story, click here.

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Dorothy Taylor and David Brown, a teacher at the Watts Towers Art Center, embrace before a rally at the site Wednesday. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times


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Comments () | Archives (4)

The Towers must be saved and now. Hear me Getty? You people globe trot and have high profile "causes", yet have pretty much ignored one of our nations greatest creative legacies right in your own backyard. Beyond some advisory consultations, i havent heard of anything from you about this.

I have written and shown how to create a series of musical pavilions to bring in more people with connections to and from LACMA and MoLAA,this would enrich the experience, with the Chales Mingus center already there, the first and original great bebop bassist from Watts, and the music festivals in the fall, which could be broadened into a village living gathering. Musics of the Americas, not pop. Sambas, bossa novas, salsa, reggae, blues and jazz, with houses from different countries with art to give color and life as they should be. Cuba, Brazil, US, Argentina even.

I can maybe get Ruth Price involved, i am her favorite artist. Wish the Times would cover her instead of these all white pop and Euro music fests, where's the jazz, OUR music? have a post on the Jazz Bakery and its moveable feast concerts til it can get a new home. The only game in town.

Just do something, its time. The blue line is right there, get out of the WLA blanco ghetto, and see our city. The Towers are right off the tracks and the station right there. Lets get to it people, enough jibber jabber. Time to walk the walk, enough about "culture' and "art". Its right there, all over out city. Time to experience it.

art collegia delenda est

Mr. Frazell, Sherry Stern from The Times here. I wanted to share this story we did yesterday on Ruth Price for you. Here is the link:


I know, I got a post from her about it, as did all at her site. But why isnt it here? Why do we get penguins, but no jazz? It is written off, and ignored here in lA as art here is under the entertainment heading, while jazz is purely creative art, far more than what else we have on this blog. I am glad she is getting some pub, she deserves it, has been at it for like 30 years, I was there at the beginning in the old room at the bakery before she moved into the one she just lost. Just as I was at Concerts by the sea and the Lighthouse before it went all soft and KCRWy. Were always half off on Thursday for students, and I was going at 17 years old.

I took my wife yesterday, her first time there though she had stayed with her sister years ago when she was doing her residency at King/Drew. From the outside it seems small and insignificant, we are used to architectural behemoths that exist only to scream their power of excess. For all its decorations, the Towers are about spirituality, about humanities soul, not his materialistic nature. Enter and feel the patterns, the color, the extraordinary focus and energy it creates. It is unique in the world, and far more creative than all the works of the academic world over the last fifty years. It is about Us, Nuestra Puebla.

She felt rejuvenatied as she prepares her new magazine, soluvmagazine.com for young women bombarded by the fashion and lifestyle magazines consumerist and woman hating views. We do not need to look like someone else, whether Oprah or some addled headed anorexic blonde. Accepting and developing ones own personality, body, and spirit is everything, and the only way to fulfillment, mind, body and soul. And so, art.

And this is what Simon Rodia created, a singleminded, yet completely opened spirit to humanity, nature and god. It is a holy place, there are so few. It MUST be preserved, and the focal point of all art schools in LA. Music should live here, on a regular basis. Festivals of life, the senses activated, but as a bonding of us as one. Food, sound, color, scents, touches of not decadent luxury, but the gifts of the earth. A touchstone of the soul, a stimulation of the mind, a satiating of the soul.

Lets get to it, Getty, ArchBishop Mahoney, any benefactors who care about more than their own mausoleums of glory, step forward. Now is the time. It can be easily done, for very little. No starchitects needed, let it be organic, a series of houses, huts, a village with the America's brought together. This is Ours. Nuestra Puebla. Let us gather the tribes, this is Arts prime function, lets just do it.

art collegia delenda est


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