Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Barnsdall Art Park / LA MUNICIPAL Art Gallery

Dear Mr. Garcetti,

I was impressed with your brief participation at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater last night. I was not impressed with the evening. Whoever was in charge of the questions filtered out the tough ones.

Here are some questions that I submitted that were not answered by the panel.

1. Why were employees of LAMAG not invited to the panel? Their lives are the most at stake including Nancy, in the wheel chair.

2. Is the annual budget of the City of LA actually $7Billion? (I'd like to know what the budget is, please.)

3. Is the budget for all the Municipal Arts Centers actually less than $1.5Million? (I'd like to know the actual budget, please.)

4. Is the actual budget for LAMAG $380,000.00?

5. What can ordinary interested citizens do to stop this RFP thing and help?

If you really believe that Olive Hill holds the "beating heart" of the arts in Los Angeles (I tend to agree), then it seems like pulling the plug on the space as a MUNICIPAL resource is suicide.

I didn't submit questions asking about the CAD's budget and the salaries of the staff. I understand that Olga Garay supervises a staff of seventeen. I wonder.. and will you tell me.. what her salary is?

With the recent uproar about the million wasted dollars on GPS devices for parking officers cars and the scandal of corrupt city officials in Bell ripping off the citizens there, it seems to me that some accountability should be forthcoming.

If Meg Whitman spends $120Million out of her own pocket to run for Governor while Bill and Melinda Gates funnel billions into their personal causes, certainly the City of Los Angeles must find ways to not let Arts Centers slip from municipal hands.

This bed tax thing is silly. And, your reputation regarding it for funding the Arts has been brought into question. I hope you are a true supporter, especially of the LAMAG and will be pro-active in finding the funding to keep it MUNICIPAL.

Finally. One solution for funds might be a simple two mill levy earmarked for the DCA and the Arts Centers on groceries and restaurant meals purchased in the City. As Los Angeles approaches or maybe passes a population of Ten Million residents, you can do the math.. but let's say that each of the ten million folks buys only two dollars worth of food a day. that's twenty million spent in the City in one day.. a miniscule levy of two mills would bring in $40,000 a day, over a million dollars a month: $12Million, plus annually.. Even for an average family spending as much as $500 a month, the donation would be one dollar!

My lowball estimate of the amount of food bought and consumed would solve the Arts Problem almost immediately.

This is all food for thought. Naysayers can come up with all kinds of reasons why any idea won't work. Pennies for the arts is certainly not what the City deserves.. make all the excuses you want about the economy and such, but if the 'heart' to which you referred is further and further stifled, then our society cannot help but deteriorate.

I refer you to an interesting book by Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point discusses how trends take hold and how they affect society. On Page 141 in Chapter Four THE POWER OF CONTEXT Gladwell discusses how simple attention to maintaining a neighborhood can make a huge difference. The "Broken Window Theory" has to do with how attitudes of people change in an orderly environment. Broken windows make us feel that no one cares about a building, but where the environment is cared for, attitudes change. The correlation is that when the Arts are cared for, the citizenry gains the benefit, either directly by participation, or vicariously in the positive ripples that emanate from the source: music, dance, theatre, fine art, movies, etc...

Do the math on a two mill levy. No one would notice unless they bought a thousand dollars worth of food at one time.. and then.. their fair share would be a whopping two bucks!

Let's make LA a thriving center for culture and the people who..mostly unselfishly.. create cared for spaces in the City.

Michael Sheehan

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