City: Santa Monica

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 added a minor in Film Studies to my major in English while an undergrad at Dartmouth College. I still vividly remember the thrill of first viewing Jean Renoir’s La Regle de Jeu (The Rules of the Game), as that picture opened my eyes to the affirmative, humanistic potential of cinema to inform and enlighten rather than just toentertain. And while I was in high school in New York City we attended theater on student discounts and performances of two Eugene O’Neill plays were unforgettable: James Earl Jones as Hickey in The Iceman Cometh and Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards in A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Question 2: What do you believe the role of City Council should be in developing and supporting the region’s arts and cultural infrastructure?

We make annual grants to local arts and cultural entities and should continue to do so, increasing the funds allocated as our budget allows (we just made a sizable contribution to the 18th Street Arts Center’s campaign from Council discretionary funds). We’re also addressing the substantial challenge of bringing the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium back to life as a local performing arts venue — the capital required for seismic safety, ADA compliance and modern infrastructure could be as much as $100M, so the solution won’t be easy. We are committed to keeping the Bergamot Arts Center vibrant while seeking to add a museum and additional cultural amenities to augment the existing galleries and to preserving the arts uses at the Santa Monica Airport. And we’ve added affordable artist live/work spaces as a community benefit in new development.

Question 3: What’s your vision for the city? What role, if any, does art and culture play in advancing that vision?

My vision is of a vibrant, socioeconomically diverse, sustainable city which protects our existing residents in our older neighborhoods while adding housing to our jobs-rich downtown, with an end goal of creating a city in which every resident can learn, thrive and achieve well-being. Arts and culture play a vital role in that vision and are critical components of our public education system, our Cradle to Career Initiative and our Well-Being Index. And our draft Downtown Community play acknowledges the needs to more arts and culture venues to serve that portion of our city.

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?

Our Creative Capital Plan identified 43% of Santa Monica adults as making all or part their living in arts-related fields, so clearly the creative economy is very important to City leadership. And 89% of our residents believes our local arts and culture makes our city a better packed to raise kids. So we will continue our efforts to add more art to the public realm, enhance our cultural programming and grants, develop small-scale festivals and events, work with our school district and community college to further arts/cultural education and add more affordable live/work spaces for artists.