Spring 2013 Candidate Surveys: L.A. City Council Dist. 11 Archive

Spring 2013 Candidate Surveys: L.A. City Council Dist. 11 Archive

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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.

All eligible candidates were contacted to participate in the survey. If you would like to revise or submit responses, please contact Abe Flores at info@artsforla.org or 213-225-7526.

Elections for this city council are run by district, meaning voters in each district may elect one name from the district’s candidates. Voters may vote in only one district.

To determine your home district, please visit the Los Angeles County Register-Recorder/County Clerk website.

A runoff may be held on May 21, 2013 between the top two candidates who received the most votes if neither receives a majority. If one candidate receives a majority of votes in this election, that candidate wins and no runoff will be held.

Candidates: Mike Bonin, Odysseus Bostick, Tina Hess, Frederick Sutton

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

As a child, I was inspired and left in absolute awe by the beauty of the stained glass in my hometown church in Clinton, MA, St. John the Evangelist, a beautiful Gothic Revival structure built by 19th Century immigrants. The stained glass windows, the stunning ceiling murals, the gorgeously painted Stations of the Cross, instructed me in my faith, taught me history, and exposed me to centuries of culture without a single word, and with the tremendous power of the eye, and the universal language of the heart.

This candidate has not yet responded.

As a young person in Orange County’s public school system I recall being introduced to the arts through an ambitious school program that provided field trips to various cultural venues – particularly in Los Angeles. It was during these trips that I received my first entrée into the wealth of culture offered by the City of LA. These visits included matinees to the theater and opera, as well as LA County Museum of Art, and smaller venues in Orange County. I remember the opera, The Barber of Seville, started and the sights and sounds immediately floored me. From that moment on I developed a rich appreciation for art and culture. It is an appreciation that remains.

As an artist myself, acting taught me to chase my passions, feel compassion and helped me relate to people across the spectrum. Acting is about giving and being selfless. It is being blank and willing to search deep parts of your soul to find sensitivities that exist. The average person does everything in their power to void these hidden places. It taught me to not only face my fears but charge at them head on. It taught me patience, hard work and the simple value that nothing comes easy. Acting allows you to delve into experiences one normally does not encounter. It pushes you to be a better person and allows you to be affected by everything. If it were not for the life lessons I learned from art, I would not have the strength to run for City Council.

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

This needs so much more than 100 words! There are dozens of specific things, but it all begins with the personal and emotional commitment of the elected official. We need councilmembers who understand, embrace and feel the power of art to uplift, challenge and inspire. That is why I helped create the Venice Art Walls and the Venice Beach Poetry monument, why I have championed murals and public art, and why I have fought for arts programs for young people, especially at-risk youth. I want to do more of that and be the Arts Champion on the LA City Council!

This candidate has not yet responded.

I believe that City Council should foster and patronize the arts to enrich our communities and youth. I believe that art brings civility to our neighborhoods. It should be nurtured as a component of education and recreation. I believe that, as with most ventures in which the City is involved, it is the City's job to foster public-private partnerships. I also believe that local colleges and universities should play a large role in planning and making cultural venues accessible to young people and other members of the public. Additionally, other advantages of supporting the arts are that it encourages people to spend money in the local economy, which in turn supports jobs and surrounding businesses, and increases tax revenues on a local, state, and federal levels. Artistic and cultural endeavors support the ideals of a connected and compassionate community. The prestige of our cultural and artistic successes brings investors and tourists from all over the country and the world. I feel it is essential for the City Council to have an active role in developing and maintaining cultural and artistic infrastructure. In addition councilmembers should, when possible, attend and promote a calendar of cultural events offered in the community.

I believe the city council should help the community come together by fostering community events and activities like the downtown art walk and Santa Monica GLOW festival. The council need to be cultural cheerleaders. One of my favorite art exhibits over the summer was the Hammer made in LA exhibit promoting local artists. Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world but really it should be the art capital of the world. We need to foster and promote our artists in all endeavors and create awareness for what is emerging and the genres of art that exist in this city. Our city is full of artistic talent and there should be more avenues to display these forms to the public.

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

First of all, I would vigorously defend and protect the 1% for Arts fund, and would seek to find ways to expand or augment arts and cultural funding. When faced with development proposals, I would push for additional arts funding as mitigation, and would encourage major employers in my district to support and partner with local arts organizations. I would also consider an arts surcharge for city-subsidized special events, such as marathons and road races, creating a new revenue stream for arts and cultural programming.

This candidate has not yet responded.

In 1989 the city passed the Transient Occupancy Tax that earmarked $1 in taxes per $100 of hotel room charges for the Department of Cultural Affairs – providing for most of the $9.6 million dollar budget. In 1991 City Council approved the Arts Development Fee Ordinance mandating that arts fees be gathered as mitigation for new construction in the city. The mayor-appointed cultural affairs commission (CAC) serves as an advisory body to the Department. I think it is essential that the Commission encourage and facilitate the establishment of public-private-academic partnerships as an important avenue from which to pursue expansion of local arts. As a City Councilmember – I would work with businesses, homeowners, commuters, and other community activists in order to determine what other action we might be able to agree to impose a modest tax on (assuming we can agree on such an activity) in order to support increased funding for the arts and the Department of Cultural Affairs. For instance a development tax, a venue tax or a cigarette tax.

Unfortunately due to negligent management of our cities finances, funding for the arts is in jeopardy. My candidacy is built upon raising the awareness of the financial recklessness that has taken place in city hall. Every dollar that is saved by righting our financial course, is a dollar that can be used for public services. Plain and simple. We need to get back to the basic function of improving the life for all Angelenos.

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 want to list more than three! 1) I would try to inspire or initiate something similar to the “Community of Angels” project of a decade ago. Such projects unite the city, create public art, and create a public relations buzz and a tourism draw. And it was just totally cool to see and experience. We need more of that! 2) I would help restore LA’s rightful role as Mural Capital of the World. 3) I’d create more affordable housing, because artists (like the rest of us) need a place to live.

This candidate has not yet responded.

1. I would convene a District Arts Council comprised by appropriate agencies, community members, private industry and local colleges and universities to discuss increased funding opportunities and joint ventures. 2. Actively collaborate with local for profit and non-profit artistic and cultural centers to determine their most pressing needs, desires, and ideas for improvement. 3. As a councilmember I would personally pledge to promote and attend one cultural/artistic event every week. In addition, I promise to assist in the development of cultural exchanges wherever it is feasible and can be agreed upon by my constituents.

I want to focus on bringing jobs back to Los Angeles. As business thrives, arts thrive. Part of this equation is the crusade to bring television and film production back to Los Angeles. Our signature industry is being starved out. We can start by helping independent filmmakers create their art here. We need to look for alternatives to help small budget productions work within our system and not outside of it. We want the small productions as well as the large to feel comfortable and encouraged to film here. I want to reduce the gross business tax, a relic from the 1930's to encourage small business to open here. This will create more jobs for those artists just starting out and needing the ever elusive "survival" job. It will help them sustain themselves as their passion and art develop. I will work every day to promote this city and attract those explores of art who blaze new trails. The made in LA promotion that took place during fashion week was fantastic and we should have more spotlights put upon all art forms and use partnerships to help implement them. We need our local government to create conditions where mankind can chase their passions if they so wish and step aside to let the human mind run free. Local government should foster art and business, not hinder it. Once an artist, always an artist and I will bring those sensibilities with me to the council seat.