City: Los Angeles
Position Seeking: Mayor
Question 1: Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts) while growing up and its impact on you.
Even as I write, powerful feelings of nostalgia joy and sadness are evoked. I played in a band, wrote poetry, but to be honest for me it is the music of that time which holds the greatest meaning: summers listening to the Band, the Grateful Dead and Neil Young’s “Helpless,” Joni Mitchell’s “The River,” and James Taylor. In college, punk rock with the Ramones, the Clash, the Buzzcocks, Television. It was our youth. So beautiful and painful. Life.
Question 2: What do you believe the role of City Council should be in developing and supporting the region’s arts and cultural infrastructure?
As a legislative body, the City Council, must weave arts funding into the budget so tightly and from so many directions that it is virtually impossible to unwind. It’s not an indulgence. It’s crucial. And never in my lifetime has Arts funding been under such grave attack as it is now.
It is a settled question as to whether government funding for the arts enriches society. Can anyone deny the value of institutions like the BBC, NPR, and Sesame street? The free market does not work when it comes to the creation of quality cultural and arts programs. Art in its very nature is an end in itself, and so when the profit motive is put into the equation, the endeavor falls to pieces.
Question 3: What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does art and culture play in advancing that vision?
Aristotle’s idea of eudaimonia—“flourishing”—is what comes to mind. It’s such a wonderful word—flourishing. To me it means a society where individuals of all stripes, sizes, ages, and etc live to their fullest potential and without being shackled to monetary debt. Perhaps a series of small communities, where there’s plenty of common space and kids can travel among the houses by foot or bike.
Museums—all museums—are free, as is the case now with the Science Center and the Broad. The amount of money it would take to realize this particular goal is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money which was squandered this year alone on the City’s “scorched earth” policy approach to litigation.
Playgrounds use large movable pieces in addition to traditional structures to enable kids to be creative.
Anyone man, woman, or child or combination thereof can pursue any form of education for free. How could it be otherwise?
Questions 4: A recent report by the Otis College of Design found that 1 in every 6 jobs in LA County supports the creative sector and economy in Los Angeles County. If elected, how will you aim to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy and the artistic community that it supports?
Whomever came up with the idea that the Arts should be an “add-on” in schools
You don’t even have to like the Arts to acknowledge that they are indispensable to a thriving society. It reminds me of when people say it is a waste of time for kids to read stories. “They should be doing something useful, like building bridges!” Aren’t Presidential speeches impactful? Op-Ed pieces which seek to exonerate a man wrongly convicted? Language is one of the fibers of our existence.
The Arts are simply no different. They are just as essential as is language, and accordingly the study of them is just as important as the study of language. And in fact those skills are necessary to build bridges!
All of which is to say that the Arts must become a part of the curriculum on a permanant basis.