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L.A. City Council keeps art, cultural programs afloat

With some Los Angeles art centers on the verge of shutting their doors, the City Council agreed Friday to shift money earmarked for public art projects to keep classes and other cultural programs running over the next two years.

City leaders have authorized as many as 4,000 job cuts to address a $485-million budget shortfall next year. Arts supporters pleaded with the council to intervene after some of the first pink slips were issued to employees at the William Grant Still Art Center in West Adams, the Charles Mingus Youth Center in Watts and the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.

Olga Garay, executive director of the Cultural Affairs Department, said the layoffs of art instructors could have forced the department to end classes at some of those facilities. Classes also were at risk at the Barnsdall Park art centers in Hollywood, which already are losing two instructors to the city’s early retirement program.

City officials are seeking private, nonprofit operators for seven city art and theater facilities. In the meantime, Councilmen Ed Reyes and Tom LaBonge said they hoped to keep classes running by dipping into a fund that sets aside 1% of the construction budget for public buildings, such as police and fire stations, for art.

“This gives us a lifeline in the short term,” Reyes said.

Garay said she believes there is at least $500,000 available in the program’s trust, which recently provided money for the cast-bronze sculptures on the Spring Street side of the new Los Angeles Police Department headquarters downtown.

“Right now we’re trying to sustain these cultural centers and theaters that are the lifeblood of many communities,” Garay said. “... These dollars will provide a bridge until private enterprise can come in and partner with us.”

It may be weeks before officials know how many dismissed employees can be rehired under temporary contracts, she said. The proposal also must win approval from the city Cultural Affairs Commission. After the legal issues are vetted, the council will take a final vote on the proposal.

Several members, including Jose Huizar and Richard Alarcon, said they wanted to ensure that officials strike the right balance between saving jobs and enhancing public buildings.

“There’s some public projects that will lose out on an arts component,” Huizar said. “Let’s face it, some of these art projects at these public buildings do a great job to help support the arts and beautify a community and bring arts to some communities that don’t have any.”

--Maeve Reston at Los Angeles City Hall

 
Comments () | Archives (5)

The Watts Towers Arts Center and the new Prop K Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center, all a part of what has become the Watts Towers Arts Campus is in jeopardy of extinction under the threat of, what is said to be, the City of L.A.'s budget crisis. Community Arts Centers of all kinds, whose programs serve immediate communities and visiting enthusiasts from all over Southern California and literally the world, are perceived as unnecessary and disposable in the current fiscal crisis. Many government officials have never taken the initiative to spend, all be it limited, time at these arts centers to really see the wealth of service to children, families, adults, special-needs citizens, elderly, and severely disadvantaged. Some officials, do however, recognize the immeasurable value. Although seemingly few, those few need to hear from us. Here's just part of our story.

The WATTS TOWERS ARTS CENTER is one of these places; it is a gauge and 'laser focus' of the difference made in the developing lives of young people especially. A well known loved and respected 'neutral' landmark in the Watts area of Los Angeles, Director Rosie Lee Hooks insists on quality, hard work, neutrality in all aspects of its service, and professionalism presented to youth who perhaps may not otherwise have the opportunity for the kind of elevated experiences provided by the programming there. Already involved and presenting that community with viable options to consider is the CalArts/Sony Pictures Media Arts Program (student recipients of the majority of awards offered for media arts); Rufus Choi Master Concert Pianist presented a Master Piano Class to the center's piano students in collaboration with CalArts along with a short concert on a weekday evening; exhibitions showing a wide range of work from Italy's Francesco Perilli, to L.A.'s own Varnette Honeywood currently on exhibition; and the director's own Jazz Mentorship Program which introduces this American music genre and welcomes the amateur participation in- Jazz music events for young people. The center's Art Instructor coordinates arts events and activities for visiting schools and groups from all over the greater L.A. area and Southern California. Easily engaging the curious ear of local youth, he manages to instill hope and vision in children who come from less focused environments. College students are provided a taste of the real arts world and the business of art through the Getty Foundation's Internship Program, which has enlightened and enthused many previously hesitant young people, the current Art Instructor having been one of them and a part of this campus since the age of 14.

The benefits of this community oasis are far too numerous to mention, but have been accumulating for more than 50 years of its existence. This center alone has fed a positive and passionate means of self expression to this city's citizens, that has spread far and wide effecting the social climate of the arts community in Los Angeles in a way that no other has. Teachers, social activists that pursue global education for their listeners' benefit, artists moved to provide services to impressionable students to encourage a healthy curiosity about the world around them and the pursuit of formal education- simply cannot be discarded as unnecessary in this time and age of exponentially growing information and technology . Our children, our citizens need to know how to dream, create, envision, imagine, develop, and fight for completion, what will ultimately serve us all; but it can't be done without imagination or someone to recognize the spark and light the fire.

Cont'd... the fight for THE WATTS TOWERS ARTS CENTER...
Please do all you can to spread the word and help us win this fight. We need a united LOUD voice to tell the story, before it becomes aged pages of past history buried in complacency and irreversible regret. Thank you, I will continue to remain- the clerk typist at the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus and encourage the young people and others, that come through my office.

The Watts Towers Arts Center Story

The Watts Towers Arts Center and the new Prop K Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center, all a part of what has become the Watts Towers Arts Campus is in jeopardy of extinction under the threat of, what is said to be, the City of L.A.'s budget crisis. Community Arts Centers of all kinds, whose programs serve immediate communities and visiting enthusiasts from all over Southern California and literally the world, are perceived as unnecessary and disposable in the current fiscal crisis. Many government officials have never taken the initiative to spend, all be it limited, time at these arts centers to really see the wealth of service to children, families, adults, special-needs citizens, elderly, and severely disadvantaged. Some officials, do however, recognize the immeasurable value. Although seemingly few, those few need to hear from us. Here's just part of our story.

The WATTS TOWERS ARTS CENTER is one of these places; it is a gauge and 'laser focus' of the difference made in the developing lives of young people especially. A well known loved and respected 'neutral' landmark in the Watts area of Los Angeles, Director Rosie Lee Hooks insists on quality, hard work, neutrality in all aspects of its service, and professionalism presented to youth who perhaps may not otherwise have the opportunity for the kind of elevated experiences provided by the programming there. Already involved and presenting that community with viable options to consider is the CalArts/Sony Pictures Media Arts Program (student recipients of the majority of awards offered for media arts); Rufus Choi Master Concert Pianist presented a Master Piano Class to the center's piano students in collaboration with CalArts along with a short concert on a weekday evening; exhibitions showing a wide range of work from Italy's Francesco Perilli, to L.A.'s own Varnette Honeywood currently on exhibition; and the director's own Jazz Mentorship Program which introduces this American music genre and welcomes the amateur participation in- Jazz music events for young people. The center's Art Instructor coordinates arts events and activities for visiting schools and groups from all over the greater L.A. area and Southern California. Easily engaging the curious ear of local youth, he manages to instill hope and vision in children who come from less focused environments. College students are provided a taste of the real arts world and the business of art through the Getty Foundation's Internship Program, which has enlightened and enthused many previously hesitant young people, the current Art Instructor having been one of them and a part of this campus since the age of 14.

The benefits of this community oasis are far too numerous to mention, but have been accumulating for more than 50 years of its existence. This center alone has fed a positive and passionate means of self expression to this city's citizens, that has spread far and wide effecting the social climate of the arts community in Los Angeles in a way that no other has. Teachers, social activists that pursue global education for their listeners' benefit, artists moved to provide services to impressionable students to encourage a healthy curiosity about the world around them and the pursuit of formal education- simply cannot be discarded as unnecessary in this time and age of exponentially growing information and technology . Our children, our citizens need to know how to dream, create, envision, imagine, develop, and fight for completion, what will ultimately serve us all; but it can't be done without imagination or someone to recognize the spark and light the fire.

Please do all you can to spread the word and help us win this fight. We need a united LOUD voice to tell the story, before it becomes aged pages of past history buried in complacency and irreversible regret. Thank you, I will continue to remain- the clerk typist at the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus and encourage the young people and others, that come through my office.

How many people take these classes? Cost per student? Please, can we have some reporting?

Does anyone really knows how many programs and children
the Watts Towers surpose to have there? Nothing is
advertise to the community.
Have anyone taken a look at the upkeep of the grounds
around these buildings, it is a disgrace, the Director,
Cultural Affrairs and the City Officials are a joke
when saying what they are doing at the Watts Towers


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