Arts Advocates See Officials' Words Put into Action in City Budget

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 10:16am

Photo: creative capital logo by andrew colunga

Arts advocates across Los Angeles logged a milestone in their quest to grow the city's investment in arts and culture.

The Los Angeles City Council approved Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposed budget on Thursday without making any changes to the proposed increased allocation for the city's Department of Cultural Affairs. Villaraigosa's budget included a 10.5% increase in funds for DCA based on higher revenues in the Transient Occupancy Tax program, which is DCA's primary source of public funding for its granting program.

Transient Occupany Taxes are collected from hotel guests throughout Los Angeles as part of their lodging bill.  The Department of Cultural Affairs receives an annual allocation of 1% from Transient Occupany Taxes.  The budget also included one-time general fund revenues.

The Mayor's budget was sent to the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee for review and changes.  As part of the budget process, this committee met with the heads of every city department to hear feedback on how the proposed budget would affect operations and staffing.  When Olga Garay-English appeared before the committee, she was praised for her work in stewarding the department through a bleak financial downtown without sacrificing the quality of arts and culture opportunities available to residents.

ArtsDay 2013, which brought nearly 500 advocates to City Hall to celebrate the impact arts and culture have on the city as a whole, was mentioned in the committee hearing as evidence of Angelenos' thirst for more arts and culture everywhere.  "This budget process demonstrates that Los Angeles's leadership does listen to the people of the city and, when feasible, is ready to invest in proven methods of improving the quality of life for all residents," said Danielle Brazell, executive director of Arts for LA.  "I'm grateful to all the advocates who shared their enthusiasm for the arts with their elected leaders over the past five years.  This is proof of how their work pays off."

Mayor Villaraigosa and the fourteen sitting Councilmembers all served as cosponsors of ArtsDay.  But more importantly, this budget, initally crafted by the Mayor and fully supported by the Council, puts into action these elected leaders' words during the ArtsDay festivities.  This is an important step forward in restoring the arts and culture investment for a city with the same population as the entire state of Oregon.

The recent LA2050 Report listed Arts & Cultural Vitality as the only one of eight indicators to "significantly enhance human development" in Los Angeles.  In America's Creative Capital, the Mayor and City Council's collaborative investment in arts and culture will ensure every resident has access to a broad spectrum of creative opportunities.

Review our special ArtsDay 2013 video to hear samples of City Councilmembers' and Mayor Villaraigosa's remarks about the value of arts and culture: