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The Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood has been removed from a list of 11 city facilities that were being considered for private operation in an effort to save the city money, and now the city council will have to find new funding for the facility in the upcoming budget.
Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District, had Barnsdall Art Park removed from the list because of its importance to the community.
“Programs at Barnsdall have introduced generations of neighborhood children to the arts,” Garcetti said. “I heard the community’s concerns loud and clear, and that’s why I support removing Barnsdall from the public-private partnership proposal.”
The decision was met with optimism by some of the people who are associated with the park, including Maria Louisa de Herrera, the president of the board for the Municipal Art Galley Association. The association is a non-profit entity that oversees the Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, which is one of five facilities at the park. de Herrera said the gallery offers space for emerging Los Angeles-area artists and others who normally would not be able to showcase their works in private galleries.
“In a perfect world, it would be great to have a public private partnership that could strengthen resources and help us keep the gallery’s mission, but we have not found that partner yet, and we are not necessarily looking for that,” de Herrera said. “We were concerned, as was the staff, that an organization would come in and take over that wouldn’t have the same mission of preserving a place for local artists.”
The other facilities located at Barnsdall Art Park include the Hollyhock House, a historic structure designed in 1921 by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The building is currently undergoing renovations, but is open to the public for tours by appointment. In addition, the park features the Barnsdall Art Center for adults, the Junior Arts Center for children, and the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, a facility that is used for city functions and is rented for private events.
Leslie Thomas, the community arts director at the park, added that he believes the decision to keep it under public operation will be a benefit to the residents of Los Angeles. Thousands of students visit the park each year for exhibits, workshops and productions at the theatre, and hundreds more participate in programs offered at the arts centers.
“This park is a staple, and to be able to have these programs continue is monumental,” Thomas said. “What it will continue to do, as it has done in the past, is fill a void being created by a lack and reduction of arts education in schools.”
Thomas said the Junior Arts Center features creative programs for students ages three to 17 that run approximately six to eight weeks. Each of the four annual sessions includes 250 to 350 participants. The adult arts center also features a variety of programs that are taught by professional artists, and serves more than 1,000 people each year, Thomas added.
Julie Wong, a deputy to Garcetti, said the park is considered an asset to the Hollywood community, and the decision for it to remain under city control will ensure it remains open into the future. Other arts facilities that are still being considered for private operation include the Art in the Park Arts Center at Hermon Park, the Encino Folk Art Center, the Lincoln Heights Junior Art Center, the William Reagh Los Angeles Photography Center, the McGroarty Arts Center, the Eagle Rock Community Cultural Center, the Lankershim Arts Center, the Madrid Theatre, the Warner Grand Theatre and Vision Theatre. The City Council will decide at a yet to be determined date whether to change the operation status of those facilities.
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