Barnsdall Park Facilities Removed from RFP List

Tue, 02/15/2011 (All day)
Advocacy Team (if applicable): 

Four Barnsdall Art Park fBarnsdall Art Parkacilities have been removed from the proposed public/private partnership list by the Los Angeles City Council.  The decision comes after nearly a year of discussions regarding the feasibility of transitioning 14 city-owned cultural centers to public/private partnerships.  Several facilities, including Watts Towers Art Center, have already been removed from the list; others are moving forward with the Request for Proposals (RFP) process.  City Council members, including Councilman Tom LaBonge, Councilman Bill Rosendahl, and Council President Eric Garcetti, as well as Department of Cultural Affairs Executive Director Olga Garay, expressed their support of Barnsdall's removal from the public/private partnership list. 

Supporters of Barnsdall Art Park attended today's City Council meeting wearing trademark orange shirts.  Several gave public testimony urging City Council to remove the facilities from the public/private partnership list. 

The motion, brought forward by Councilmembers Garcetti and LaBonge, passed with 12 votes (three members of Council were not present) at the Tuesday, February 15th meeting of the Los Angeles City Council.

"Everybody's got to step up and roll up their sleeves.  It's important to take advantage of this opportunity," said Councilman LaBonge, advocating for community members, local church groups and schools to form partnerships to enhance Barnsdall and increase attendance at its arts centers. 

The Barnsdall facilities are four of the fourteen cultural facilities proposed to be partnered through an RFP process.  Councilman Wesson requested information about the status of the Madrid Theatre, another such facility.  Garay reported that several policy issues needed to be decided on by the City Council as they elucidate the terms of the contractual agreement, including matters such as how much rent will be paid, who is responsible for maintenance, etc.  After those matters are decided, they will move forward with finding an appropriate private partner for the facilities on the RFP list.  Garay mentioned that Councilman Parks has asked for William Grant Still Arts Center to be withdrawn from the RFP list as well, as it is a small facility in an underserved neighborhood, and did not seem to be a good candidate for partnership. 

While the Department of Cultural Affairs supports removal of Barnsdall Art Park, funding the facilities through the end of the year is still a pending issue.  According to Garay, "Our biggest concern is finding a funding strategy for the remainder of this fiscal year."  The Department of Cultural Affairs and the CAO's office have identified possible sources, including $98,000 from the DCA, $142,000 in CDBG dollars, and $169,000 of prior year civic council funding.  The latter is discretionary funding given to each member of City Council for arts and culture that carries over year-to-year.   The Department is meeting with each Councilmember's offices to discuss the possibility of using these funds. 

Additionally, the submitted fiscal year 2011/2012 budget package did not include operations funding for either the Barnsdall facilities or William Grant Still Arts Center, as at that time both were on the partnership list.  The Department of Cultural Affairs is working closely with the CAO's office to identify the additional funding. A representative from the CAO's office reported that they will have a proposal within two weeks for funding for rthe remainder of the year.

Councilman Rosendahl praised supporters' vigilance in attending meetings and making their voices heard in this issue: "This is the kind of partnership that will make it happen in the years ahead.  If the community steps up and fights to keep something, that's how we're going to work together to keep doors open."  Rosendahl also asked about the feasibility of creating a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation to accompany the Department of Cultural affairs, noting, "We have a lot of rich people in this town, and they don't pay their fair share of taxes.  Can we hit them up in a 501(c)(3) relationship and get some of them to partner with them?"  A representative from the CAO's office stipulated that a "Friends of"-style 501(c)(3) would have to have an arms-length relationship with the Department of Cultural Affairs, but the Department could explore that possibility.

For background on this issue, please visit artsforla.org/la-cultural-centers.

Arts for LA is currently soliciting blogs from those involved with the proposed public/private partnerships of Los Angeles cultural facilities.  We encourage those interested to read the guidelines and submit: artsforla.org/news/request-blogs-cultural-facilities-proposed-publicprivate-partnerships.