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Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge, 4th District, has authored a motion designed to keep the city’s art centers and some theatres operated by the Department of Cultural Affairs open during the next fiscal year.
The Department of Cultural Affairs is facing major cuts to its budget for the upcoming year, which could mean fewer hours, or even a complete closure, of places like the Barnsdall Art Center and Theatre in Hollywood; the William Grant Still Arts Center, near La Brea Avenue and the Santa Monica (10) Freeway; the Madrid Theatre in the San Fernando Valley; and the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.
LaBonge’s motion seeks to provide an undetermined amount from the city’s Public Works Improvements Arts Fund to keep the art centers and theatres open. The fund is comprised of money collected when capital improvement projects are conducted within the city. Approximately one percent of the cost of a project is placed into the fund, and the money is to be used for public art projects. Money from the fund was not previously available for use by the Department of Cultural Affairs, but LaBonge’s motion would free up the funding. The city council’s Arts, Parks and Health and Aging Committee approved the motion on May 7, and it will soon be reviewed by the full city council.
“I am glad we were able to get more funds to the art centers around the city without further burdening the General Fund,” said LaBonge, who is chair of the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee. “There are so many great classes and children’s programs happening in those art centers throughout the city, I’m happy to help them out.”
Will Caperton y Montoya, director of marketing and development for the Department of Cultural Affairs, said the additional funding is badly needed. Approximately $365,000 has been allocated for the art center and theatres in the proposed budget, which would enable them to stay open for a little more than five months. It is estimated that the department needs $842,400 to keep all of the centers and theatres open for an entire year.
“We are looking to fill a gap of about $477,000,” Caperton y Montoya said. “The question for which we are still waiting for an answer is how much we can use to fill that gap.”
Carolyn Ramsay, a deputy to LaBonge, said the exact amount will be determined once the city council considers the motion. She said LaBonge au-thored the motion in response to public comments at a series of community meetings held by the Arts, Parks and Health and Aging Committee, where numerous residents requested that the facilities be kept open.
Caperton y Montoya said the art centers and theatres provide vital services to the community. The Barnsdall Park facility offers numerous classes in art and music, and hundreds of residents and students utilize the programs, he said. Caperton y Montoya said there is also an effort underway to determine whether many of the facilities could be operated through public/private partnerships, but that in the short term, the department is just trying to keep the centers open.
“We are hoping the council is receptive of this so we can continue to operate at the same level of service,” Caperton y Montoya added. “There is definitely a need for this funding to keep these places from going dark.”
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