Campaigns

Spring 2015 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Los Angeles City Council District 4

Spring 2015 Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys: Los Angeles City Council District 4

Candidate order: Tara Bannister, Jay Beeber, Teddy Davis, Sheila Irani , Step Jones, Wally Knox, Wally Knox, Tomas O'Grady, Joan Pelico, Carolyn Ramsay, David Ryu, Rostom "Ross" Sarkissian, Mike Schaefer, Steve Veres

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.

Voting for Los Angeles City Council District 4 will be held on Tuesday, March 3.

1 seat is 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?

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As a child, I was hired to act on That Girl with Marlo Thomas, and Art Linkletter's Kids Say the Darndest Things. I also starred in school plays throughout grammar and high school, played classical piano (and still do) and sing. My parents brought us up with concerts at the Bowl, ballet at the Greek and travels to Europe to enjoy the world's great operas and museums.

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When I went to the Vatican Museums, I was impressed with so much history. Ever since I became a believer in the positive impact that the arts & culture have in our lives. I believe that culture and the arts play a key role in the health and the development of our economy, our society and our country.

Participating in a musical society in Limerick as a young man taught me the power that the arts and music have on people. It was a wonderful opportunity to work as a team. Seeing how the public reacted to such a beautiful show and how moved they were was inspiring and led me to pursue music as a favorite pastime.

Growing up in the Bronx, my father worked for the United Nations. For 27 years I had an international influence permeating my education. At 7 years old until I was 12, I would go to the June Taylor School of Dance every Saturday. I would then take a bus to the UN to meet my Dad. I loved visiting my father because various colleagues of his would give me tours. I loved seeing art from around the world. One exhibit displaying Chinese ivory sculptures particularly stands out. The beauty and inspiration these sculptures created has influenced me to this day.

I lived in eight different cities as a child, which enabled me to view, compare, and learn from these communities in unique ways. Not knowing how long I would be in each City forced me to not leave opportunities for tomorrow. Museums, parks, historical monuments, and significant architecture were always on the priority list of places to spend our days and revisit often. After more than 23 years of calling Los Angeles home, I still feel very connected to the culture and stories of immigration our City has to tell through our local artists.

I grew up relatively poor, but had a chance to attend some of the best public schools here in LA. There, I was exposed to art and culture, in part because LAUSD used to prioritize arts education, but also on field trips to some of the great museums nearby, like LACMA. Being exposed to the arts like that at a young age was a great impact on my life and has contributed to my drive to give back to the community that allowed me those experiences.

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Touring museums abroad as a student, remember the El Prado in Madrid, the Heritage in Leningrad, not St. Petersburg, and the Louve in Paris. I am a San Diego native and enjoyed our Art Garry in Balboa Park growing up. Used to buy prints at the national Gallery in Washington DC for family and friends when I was a Georgetown Law student, class of 1963

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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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As the Director of Special Project, for Councilman LaBonge I encouraged local artists to come to high schools and share their talent with the students. I invited Judith Aller, Concert Violinst to play at Marshall with her pianist. I would love to continue these engagements between students and viruosos to promote art and culture in our schools. I have a discretionary budget and will allocate funds to do just this.

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Culture plays such an important role in the life of a City and its residents. It helps kids stay in school, stay out of trouble and fosters creativity. It creates social cohesion, relieves social tensions and brings people together. I believe the City should support our cultural infrastructure by doing a better job of teaming up with private foundations and organizations that promote our region's culture.

We underestimate the power of the arts in this city and the school district definitely underestimates the value of the arts as an educational tool. I will play a more active role in bringing extra-curricular arts, dance, and cultural education to our public school system. Barnsdall, our local art park, is woefully underutilized and I would seek to work with my neighboring Council Member to bring in new resources and make it a world class artistic destination.

The City Councilmember has a huge responsibility to tourists, Angelino's and especially our students, to ensure the museums and arts are easily accessible. First, we need 'way-finding' signs to identify our museums. Then we need an Education Deputy whose sole focus is finding resources for our schools through grants. I'm the only candidate who is proposing this staffer. The grants and public private partnerships we can find will increase resources we drastically need to improve the arts infrastructure. We need to utilize the bus allotment every Councilmember receives to provide access to the arts and museums in the 4th District.

I believe the City Council can play an important role in development and support of the cultural infrastructure. For starters, we need to prioritize the involvement of arts and creative talent in Los Angeles in our decision-making and problem solving. For instance, residents in our hillside communities are very concerned about increased traffic in the event of a fire or other natural disaster so I’m not waiting for a bureaucratic answer. Instead, I’m working with a local creative app developer on special mapping software that would work in coordination with our fire department.

The City can do quite a bit to spur and encourage the cultural scene here in LA, and I support the Mayor’s work in making LA more art-friendly. But before the City can really encourage and work with the art community, we have to at least get to a point where it is not getting in the way of cultural events that make cities great. Once we reach that point, we can strive to reach the point where the City Council and the arts community work hand-in-hand on projects, exhibitions, etc.

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Seek County to join City in assuring appropriate funding from both modest tax sources, and transient occupancy tax as the Arts attract tourists.

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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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Large developments have paid into an escrow account for art in the neighborhoods surrounding the development. A lot of this money is sitting there for years without being allocated. I would like to explore how we could use those funds for arts in schools, and on going activities in the community.

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I believe the City should expand by creating and seeking more partnerships with private and non-profit organizations that promote the arts and culture. The cultural sector offers many potential for partnerships. Partnerships in the area of culture and the arts bridge the funding gap of public funds, and provide investment opportunities for the private sector to expand our local arts and culture infrastructure.

I will champion it by proving to the public and to the City Hall family that the arts are important and that they are in fact an economic driver. I will work with the DCA to help them become the most efficient bureaucracy so that we can offer additional artistic and cultural opportunities to the people of Los Angeles. We also need to incentivize the offering of affordable access to these opportunities. People of all ages and ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds should have access to the enriching experience of attending musicals, ballets, opera, art galleries, etc.

We need to make LA a friendlier place to do business. Eliminating the Gross Receipts Tax, per BTAC recommendations, is step one. We need to attract business and allow our small businesses to expand. This recommendation has sat on a desk since 2012. These are our mom and pops businesses who raise their children in the City. These same children benefit the greatest by improving our education system. I will push this mandate forward and increase revenue, which we can then begin to add to all vital city services, including funding for local arts.

I have three specific arts funding streams I’ll work to expand immediately: 1) Work towards increasing the Arts Development Fee from 1% to 2% and allow more flexibility for the arts community to use those funds. 2) Push for using revenue improvements from the Transient Occupancy Tax toward community arts organizations and individual artists enhancing our neighborhoods. 3) Develop a more strategic plan of affordable housing options that allows artists and creative entrepreneurs to live and continue contributing to neighborhoods across the City.

The City is now in a time of limits, where there is not a lot of money for public art. But City leaders have a HUGE role to play in connecting donors and boosters with the arts community, and at the very least facilitating these projects. My council office would work together with both of these groups – at the very least to ease permitting and licensing for projects that are going to improve the District.

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Am not aware of this. Was twice San Diego Councilman but have never worked with the City of LA funding in this arena.

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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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Tourism is on the rise in Los Angeles, last year attracting over 43 million visitors, most of them coming here by car. We need a cultural visitor center where art galleries and museums, playhouses, community events and tourist attractions can showcase what is happening at their venues. The location should be on Hollywood Boulevard with a platform that showcases the world famous Hollywood Sign. A website sponsored by LA Convention and Tourist Bureau should assist with this goal as well. We have a unique blend of classical and modern art, dance, music, stage experiences that need to be touted to visitors and Angelenos. I would support the continuation of Art Week where Angelenos can see special exhibits in the major museums during a dedicated time period.

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One of my goals when elected is to help the private sector create more jobs for Angelinos I believe that when the City invests in its creative economy jobs are created. I'm a leader and I understand the importance of this. I will work with you and the creative community to figure out a way to deepen the City's investment in our creative economy. I am committed to that!

1. Build better public and private partnerships to promote and expand our artistic endeavors; I have a track record in this through my work with schools. 2. Bring the arts front and center as a tourist attraction. On that note, we need a regional tourism agency that has Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Burbank, Los Angeles, and other cities working in concert so that if a tourist comes to see the Hollywood sign, he is also encouraged to visit artistic destinations. 3. Build out programming in our existing art centers. For example, Barnsdall has a theater that is often empty. We must incentive so that facilities such as these are accessible venues for artists and playwrights, rather than leaving them empty and underutilized.

Increase incentives for filming with a caveat that our post-production and FX related jobs need funding to keep art/creative related jobs local, versus being sent abroad. Create public-private partnerships with our museums to increase student participation in the arts. This includes trips to art schools so our youth can understand these jobs exist and can foster interests in these trades. Establish an Education Deputy whose focus will be identifying funding for arts programs and other extra curricular courses that help to establish a first class education system our City deserves.

Growing our local economy is a key first step for increasing opportunities to reinvest in the arts. I’m the only candidate already working on plans that specifically aim to further fund the arts and expand job growth for creative tech and entertainment jobs. It’s called the Hollywood Innovation Zone and it will serve as a hub of tech and entertainment jobs bolstered by affordable housing and mass transit. It’s a landmark opportunity to create good-paying local jobs to further support L.A.’s creative edge. I’ll also advocate making high-speed internet access more affordable and accessible city-wide.

1. The creative economy needs to know that they can count on the City to be fair and consistent in the application of City rules and requirements. 2. Improve City-resident communications with ombudsman service, and guaranteeing early community input on issues that will impact our neighborhoods. 3. We have to eliminate the gross receipts tax, and replace it with a net income tax for businesses, creative and otherwise. Then we calibrate that tax to make it as low as possible while meeting our needs.

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Continue to encourage artists, from street talent to those with pedigree. See that Council recognizes artists, even those whose work we personally may not applaud. Maintain the highest levels into the future that we have had in the past.

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