Fall 2014 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Alhambra City Council District 1

Fall 2014 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Alhambra City Council District 1

Candidate order: Stephen Sham, Eric Sunada

As part of our work to foster greater civic dialogue and encourage greater voter turnout, Arts for LA presents these Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys to promote dialogue around issues facing our community.

Survey responses provided by each candidate are for voter information purposes only. Arts for LA does not endorse candidates seeking office. We are committed to fostering respectful, nonpartisan dialogue about issues relating to arts and culture. For more information, please read about our mission and values or our FAQ.

All eligible candidates were contacted to participate in the survey. If you would like to submit new or revise existing responses, please contact Arts for LA at advocate@artsforla.org or 213-225-7580.

The Actors Fund, KCET Artbound, California Alliance for Arts Education, LA2050, LA STAGE Alliance, Latino Arts Network, Otis College of Art and Design, and the Social & Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) served as Regional Partners by promoting Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys throughout Los Angeles County.

Voting for Alhambra City Council District 1 will be held on Tuesday, November 4.

Elections are at-large, with five seats available in this election.

For more information on where to vote, visit the Los Angeles County Clerk/Registrar-Recorder’s Office website.

Question 1: What was the most meaningful arts and cultural experience you had growing up?

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A diverse set of experiences brought an awakening to my psyche. The earliest was seeing a modern dance performance. I was around eight and had never seen anything like its rawness and depth. Movements were at times disjointed and violent and at others serene. But by the end of the performance I remember a feeling of completeness. And although I was not a dancer myself, I have since enjoyed being around all types of dance and what it does for the human spirit and community. Metal working and book arts are also areas that have deepened my appreciate of the aesthetic, and I have since been associated with them through my adult life.

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Question 2: What do you believe the role of City Council should be in the development and support of the region's cultural infrastructure?

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It should be a fundamental duty of the city council to develop the region's cultural infrastructure. Our people, place, culture, and climate make Alhambra unique. We need to nurture this through inclusiveness and community building. We have a great opportunity to show the world what a great place Alhambra can be, as diverse as it is. No city can truly survive without a strong cultural infrastructure. It's an investment in its people that can uplift an entire neighborhood and spur others to do the same. Instead of a race to the bottom where the people are sold short, this is a race to the top that rejuvenates the city socially and financially.

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Question 3: How would you champion modifications to, or expansion of, the city's current funding stream for local arts and culture?

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I will fight to expand the city's funding for local arts and culture in two ways: 1) The city currently uses our federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to subsidize developers and real-estate investors in a trickle-down approach that is clearly not working. We need to bring a better balance to the community and using CDBG grant funding to support local arts and arts education is money well spent. 2) We also need to increase the amount of funding directed to the Arts in Public Places fund by raising the required contributions from those businesses who are granted waivers by the city which adversely affect the quality of lives of its people.

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Question 4: What three things would you do to deepen the city's investment in its creative economy (cultural tourism, indirect and direct jobs, nonprofit and for profit)?

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1) I would use the city's Art in Public Places fund to commission works from local artists to help beautify and unify the city. It is a shame that the city used $130K of these funds last year to fund a rose parade float in the form of a monster truck (need I say more?). By investing in our local artists, we have the opportunity to create good-paying jobs. 2) I would use our community grant funding to subsidize studio space for artists. High rents are one of the biggest deterrents to a thriving art community. By creating affordable incubators, it would empower our people to uplift their neighborhoods. 3) I would push for the adoption of a preservation ordinance which would then permit the use of grants and tax credits for cultural and historic restoration of our unique city. We currently do not have such an ordinance, and instead the city is destroying our rich culture through overdevelopment of commercial real estate that is further stratifying the city.

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