Position Seeking: City Council
Question 1: Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts) while growing up and its impact on you.
I attended the Orange County High School of the Arts and it was absolutely the best decision my family and i could have possibly made for me. My first job was performing in a professional musical in San Juan Capistrano, and at OCHSA I studied theatre, music, creative writing and photography. I've been a professional photographer for eight years, but my biggest passion is my rock band, Countless Thousands. We've put out three records and have toured as far out as Wyoming.
Two hundred and fifty words isn't enough. Without the music of the Weakerthans or the writing of Susanna Clarke or the filmmaking of Edgar Wright or the comedy of Patton Oswalt or the musicals of Robert Lopez and Stephen Sondheim I would be a completely different person - and far worse for it. Art and creativity is central to who i am. I am an artist through and through. The stories we tell, the art we create, determines who we are as a people.
Question 2: What do you believe the role of City Council should be in developing and supporting the region’s arts and cultural infrastructure?
City Council can create and protect the spaces where the arts are experienced. It can ensure that the Alex Theater remains open and solvent, it can create new venues and amphitheaters in public areas (something i'd very much like to push), it can solicit the construction of museums like the Armenian American Museum and the Museum of Neon Art. It can promote and fund arts programs and connect the city to its artists - things like earmarking funds for painting the electrical boxes around town or arranging public concerts or driving pop-up open air artist galleries. The City Council is a steward for the arts and I will do everything I can to ensure that arts funding isn't cut at the first sign of financial trouble. Too often the arts are an easy target for budget butchers, and i see far more value in their maintenance.
Question 3: What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does art and culture play in advancing that vision?
I want to see the city become a model for a secure working class. My first priority is establishing rent control so young families, immigrants and the cost-burdened working class don't get priced out of the area. I want to curb luxury development - which doesn't benefit existing residents whatsoever and indeed is contributing towards our rents going up. We need more affordable housing, better transportation systems, light rail, and a higher priority set on attracting tech and internet jobs - the departure of Nestle means we have an opportunity to create a "Glendale Tech Campus" in the Nestle building, a new space with room for hundreds of smaller internet companies. Our new development should be geared towards public spaces, like the Space 134 proposal - a public square on the north end of Brand next to the freeway where we could build an amphitheater and create a new public facility for community engagement. We will maintain the integrity of our neighborhoods, make it easier for people to get in and out of the city, and promote our local businesses.
Questions 4: A recent report by the Otis College of Design found that 1 in every 6 jobs in LA County supports the creative sector and economy in Los Angeles County. If elected, how will you aim to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy and the artistic community that it supports?
The first and best thing we can do is to have an open dialogue with the artistic community to make sure that they tell us what they need to thrive. Our culture reveres its stars but spurns its artists, not caring about the giant path from workaday artistry to stardom. Rent control would mean a lot of struggling artists could stay where they are - as a self-employed working class artist, I can tell you that my first concern is being able to make rent and the looming threat of rent spikes is a fearsome thing indeed. I would far prefer to have creative campuses established in newly emptied corporate space than some other disinterested corporate citizen (who would, according to an established pattern, leave at the first sign of a cheaper office space elsewhere). Providing new spaces, protecting and promoting existing venues, advocating for the working class and funding arts programs for families and experts alike would stimulate an appreciation for the arts in our community. My philosophy for the economic arm of the creative community would simply be, 'You tell me'. We've had enough developers and insurance agents and business owners on our city council. Having someone familiar with the creative community would mean a whole new perspective. I speak the language, as it were. Let's talk!