Villaraigosa wants to rescind L.A. arts grant cuts that stirred protests
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has backed away from his controversial plan to cut the city’s arts grants by $415,000 and give the money to four other cultural organizations he picked himself.
“We were overzealous,” Ben Ceja, deputy mayor for budget and finance, told the City Council committee that has been going through the mayor’s budget proposal with each department head, in preparation for making recommendations to the full council.
Ceja asked the budget and finance committee to restore the $415,000 to the Department of Cultural Affairs budget. While no action was taken, committee Chairman Bernard C. Parks said he was miffed that the transfer had been proposed in the first place. Restoring the money to the $2.7-million arts grants program would mean that 35 organizations already approved through the standard application process in which panels of experts review and score each proposal will not lose their grants; 271 others would avoid 7% to 15% cuts.
Ceja said in an interview that the change of heart came after Olga Garay, Villaraigosa’s appointee as executive director of the cultural affairs department, explained the longstanding process of competitive grants. It was “a key [factor] that made us reconsider this,” the deputy mayor said. “We didn’t want to harm the process.”Read the full story at Culture Monster, The Times' arts blog.
Photo: Olga Garay, head of L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs. Credit: Wally J. Skalij / Los Angeles Times