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Spring 2015 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Burbank City Council Primary Municipal Election

Spring 2015 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Burbank City Council Primary Municipal Election

Candidate order: Emily Gabel-Luddy, Juan J. Guillen Jr., Elise Stearns-Niesen, David Nos, Christopher John Rizzotti, Will Rogers, Sharon Springer

As part of its work to connect voters and candidates, Arts for LA presents these Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys to promote dialogue around issues related to arts education and its benefits.

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 Cristina Pacheco at advocate@artsforla.org or 213-225-7580.

Arts for LA thanks the Burbank Arts for All Foundation for supporting the process as a local partner. The Actors Fund, KCET/Artbound, the California Alliance for Arts Education, LA Stage Alliance, Latino Arts Network, Otis College of Art and Design, LA2050, and the Social & Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) served as Regional Partners by promoting Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys throughout Los Angeles County.

Voting for Burbank City Council Primary Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, February 24.

3 seats are available in this election. Elections are at large; voters may vote for any of the eligible candidates 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?

Dance: At the age of 13, I was afforded a 2-year opportunity (a scholarship) to take modern/experimental dance at UCLA. I learned the breadth of cultural influence on dance techniques, met young men and women from backgrounds that I never would have had the opportunity to meet. We shared the same challenges to learn steps and techniques; we were treated to experimental music (the pianist brought a mallet, some wood blocks and other "instruments" to influence our interpretation of movement). It was meaningful because I "got" (and eventually longed for) muscle memory, our imaginations were cultivated through interpretation and I learned some limitations: my long-waisted body was NOT suitable for some of the moves.

As a child I was fortunate to have mothers that encouraged the arts. Although we were not wealthy I was exposed to The Bob Baker Marionette Theater, the Wadsworth Theater and I was fortunate enough to see The Phantom of the Opera. Although I was too young to stay up throughout the whole play, I remember when the signers hit their high point they woke me up. To this day that experience makes me smile.

I fell in love with photography while attending John Burroughs high school. My teacher, Mr. Brehm was passionate yet demanding about the art of photography. I learned that although I could not play music or draw, I had the gift of a good eye, and putting it to good use is just as valid expression of art and culture as any other. I learned a very valid life lesson from my experience in Mr. Brehm's class. I will never forget his advice when mounting my photos, "Don't fumble the ball on the 1 yard line", meaning do the best you can all the way to the end, even if the end doesn't seem important at the time.

I grew up in a very artistic household - My Father was a classically trained musician (pianoi) and an Artist who worked with oils and pastels. I was exposed to both at an early age, in fact I read musical notes before I read words. Dur to this exposure I grew up with as deep appreciation for Art and Music. In fact I majored in music and studied classical guitar and opera. My father drew, painted and played until he passed away. I intend to do the same.

The most meaningful arts and cultural experience I have had are two. The first one was as a student in drama class. As a young male in Jr. High School I had a hard time speaking in front of others and expressing myself. I believe this class helped me be more confident in who I was and helped me speak in front of other. The second experience was a trip to Italy. I was amazed at the art that humans could produce, from the written word, to paintings to sculptures. I enjoyed the various periods of art as time moved on.

I'm torn between the frequent visits made through school to the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre and nearby Walker Art Center and - admittedly later in life - a "day job" serving as Aide to conductor Leonard Bernstein and then Andre' Previn.

When I was a young girl, my family and I moved from Southern Mississippi to Libya, North Africa. It was one exotic, three year long cultural experience. From day one, with the pincher ants, giant black beetles, blood oranges, couscous, the Mediterranean Sea, Tripoli International Fair, the architecture, music and art, it was an extremely stimulating experience for a highly imaginative little girl.

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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?

Council should support capital projects to renew/renovate city facilities like the Starlight Bowl. It is an excellent example of a valued community asset that needs comprehensive upgrading. Council should require that any proposals for Central Library renovation include concepts which advance cultural arts i.e. a digital café, or a public arts gallery. Because their presence will underscore the importance of Burbank's Cultural Arts all City Council members should be active supporters of community-based performance events such as The Colony Theater, Starlight Bowl, Creative Artists Gallery exhibitions, Downtown Arts Festival.

I believe the City can help as much as possible with the growth and development of the region's cultural programs and infrastructures. The city can help facilitate this in many ways. They can assist when trying to obtain permits and during development. They can assist in efforts to reach out and involve residents. Being the media capital of the world we can reach out to the entertainment industry for assistance in creating and developing partnerships with the cultural arts community.

I believe children are short-changed part of the journey of self discovery in the formative years because the arts have fallen to the wayside in leu of budget cuts and stressing of academics. Clearly there is a desire to give our children those arts experiences, as can be evidenced by the choir program at Burbank & Burroughs, which is financed almost completely by the students themselves. While I don't think it's reasonable to expect us to go back to the days when the school can fund such programs, I'd like to see the City Council support and facilitate cooperation between programs such as Burbank Arts for All and other non-profits that can mutually benefit from such cooperation. I believe great things can be achieved on the grass roots level. For instance, I know Family Service Agency of Burbank has an art therapy class. I'm not an artist myself, so maybe I'm way off, but perhaps there's some connection that can be made there.

Burbank is unique in that we are the media capital of the world. I think we should be the leader in fostering and enhancing the cultural arts in our region. Tht being said we need to make sure we find a way to support symphonic and art show activities that draw from the vast range of talents throughout the region. I am pleased that Burbank Arts for All does a tremendous job keeping music and art alive in our schools. THis successful model should be grown to a regional level and the CIty COuncil can have a large impact an helping that move forward. Through helping to sponsor events and keeping the arts in the foreont of our community.

I think our City Council has an important role. As Vice Chair of the Planning Board each project that comes before us has a Art in Public Places requirement. Our board is very diligent to make sure the developer adheres to this requirement as does our Council. I believe that it is also important that the project be pleasing to the eye of the public from the exterior, not just the interior. Our Council has the ability to shape the community and art should be a focus.

Both as a leader initiating and creating efforts and programs where possible, and as a booster and cheerleader for efforts initiated by others.

First let's hear what our community would like to see and do. Visibly attend cultural events at our schools and community venues and support grant seeking efforts within the community. Announce and report out on the events at Tuesday council meetings. If city government has money to give, give it and accept! Partner with local nonprofits to bring more art and creative events to Burbank schools and the community. Support arts related inter-generational programming. Seek grants so that the opportunity to go to ballets, the opera, art museums is extended to people of lesser means, and otherwise would not be able to go.

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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?

I will continue to advocate City funding for the Cultural Arts Commission. While the Commission may confront the challenges of competing with other program needs in the City, it is clear that the Commission has played a key role in advancing the evaluation and proposals for the Starlight Bowl upgrades. The relationship between the arts and education is clear - music and math, dance and sports and I encourage Burbank Arts for All to invite other Councilmembers to participate in the biannual evaluation of educational grants. My experience deepened my knowledge and appreciation for the teacher/school generated proposals for arts funding.

With our current budget issues, increasing funding for local arts and culture is difficult. We must be creative and when the opportunity for matching grants arises we must try to leverage them to fund projects we would otherwise not be able to fund. The only way we can succeed is by creating partnerships and working together.

Balancing all the needs of our students is always a difficult task, particularly when there are limited financial resources. With that in mind, I must be honest and say that my first priority, as a current member of the Burbank Police Commission, to the students is their safety. One of my goals as city council member is to increase our SRO program. When I was a young adult, I worked as a police cadet in Burbank and it helped shaped the person I am today. My first exposure to our police was a positive one, our SRO officer. That said, I'm of the belief that government (at all levels) tends to be wasteful and must be "pruned" from time to time. At this time, I cannot give you a specific modification to our funding stream, as I need to have a broader picture of how the city has funded it in the past and where some of that wasteful spending can be re-directed to the arts.

I know there are a number of small art galleries in Burbank as well as small music schools and local theatre groups. As an idea - it might be nice to do a CIty Wide Cultural arts day with all the arts exposed in one area. It could be a great family day with a nominal entrance fee with all proceeds going to a fund to help build our cultural arts programs and awareness. It would be a hugeundertaking, but you could have galeries, live music classical and contemporary and media presentations. It might generate the funds necessary to improve and enhave programs across the bard.

Our city has an Art in Public Place requirement for all developments. If a developer decides not to provide the Art, Burbank Arts for All receives a percentage of these funds. I think that one way to expand funding is to allow Arts for All to keep 100% of the funds, not just a percentage.

It's my understanding municipal participation can make the difference in substantial numbers of grant programs, so a direction to staff to cooperate (and seek out) such efforts would be a natural. As for building support, just as I've found the way to get someone to support a theater or orchestra I like is to take them there, I believe exposing council colleagues and staff to arts experiences is an effective means of giving THEM the idea of expanding support.

I would consensus build with the other council members to make sure there is a majority vote in favor of arts and cultural funding. I work for EngAGE a nonprofit that sets up arts, fitness, health, nutrition, lifelong learning and inter-generational programs in senior communities throughout Southern California. I see first hand the positive impact the arts have on seniors and kids. It's educational, fun, entertaining and gives purpose and meaning to lives of all ages. I would seek support to allocate money to the arts and culture.

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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)?

I believe there will be an opportunity to increase cultural tourism concurrent with the opening of the Harry Potter Ride at NBC Universal in 2016. Continue city support of the Creative Talent Network Expo (CTN) to further direct/indirect job development in our community. Last year CTN had 6,000 visitors. Begin a more comprehensive promotion of our International Film Festival, an event that attracts film makers from many different countries. Conduct a review of the potential benefits of operating the Starlight Bowl as a family-friendly, tribute band and special event venue under non-profit management. And I would love our city to host a "Final Party on the Burbank Blvd. Bridge," just before it is torn down, featuring all our arts community.

I would champion the city in facilitating and encouraging the development of more cultural arts opportunities. I would ensure that the city work effectively with our Chamber of Commerce to encourage and assist in cultural tourism. I would encourage the hotel hospitality PBID to further reach out to the cultural arts. I strongly support Work Force Training and the technical training for high tech studio related jobs in the digital arts and see this training opportunity as a means to encourage and maintain jobs. Working together the arts community, our residents and the studios we could create partnerships the would deepen the city’s investment in it’s creative arts.

Burbank is the "Media Capital of the World" and should be promoted as such. 1. The Burbank Film Festival: I must admit I don't know that much about the Burbank Film Festival, but I'd like to see it become more prestigious and a draw to filmmakers all over the world. 2. Make the city a very attractive place to do business, particularly the ancillary creative industries that are a part of the film, television, and game development businesses. 3. As this is the media capital of the world, it would be safe to assume that we have an untapped wealth of retired professionals who would be excited about "paying it forward" to our children by mentoring. I'd like to see that happen.

1. An all encompassing show as I mentioned above could be one-step. This type of event would definitely show the City's committment. 2. I think the City shoud do a better job of helping to communicate the different types of art programs going on in the City at any given time. Possibly having some type of annual arts calendar that would highlight local talent and inform our citizens about events and encourage attendance. 3. Work closely with industry type businesses to create more public private partnerships in the community geared toward art training and art job

1. I would like to see our City give a developer who may be building a large project an incentive to build a performing arts center with a portion of the project as a give back to the community. 2. I would like to see our city partner with either a for profit or non-profit group(s) to create a creative vocational school within the Burbank Community. 3. I think our city needs to be more proactive to bring creative jobs to Burbank. We have a 17% commercial vacancy rate in Burbank. We are the media capital of the world. We should have a strong economic development and retention department at our city to bring down the vacancy rate to under 10% which would benefit our city and its residents.

1. As noted above, exposing colleagues and staff to the creative efforts underway and the tangible benefits thereof almost invariably results in creating champions and support for the "cause." 2. Advance, promote, pursue and appoint those individuals for whom these efforts are already a priority, especially those who've had success in their previous efforts advancing the arts. 3. Math. That is, success is hard to resist. This requires an accurate, complete analysis of the current creative economy, reliably identifying what has worked and what hasn't.

1.Actively work to retain existing jobs related to culture and the arts and attract new ones. Link students and adults to job prospects in the area and actually help develop those prospects. 2.Partner with local nonprofits to bring visual art, musical, dance, theatrical, poetry and cultural events to Burbank and seek subsidies so that seniors, kids and low income residents can also attend. Have field trips to cultural events in Downtown L.A. Exploit inter-generational opportunities. 3. Have multi-day cultural festivals that celebrate Burbank's diversity and that are inclusive of the whole community and are community building. These would celebrate our different cultures' art, music, food, dance, etc.

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