City to consider emergency relief for artists during Tuesday council meeting

Long Beach City Council will consider a number of arts-related recommendations, Tuesday, Nov. 17, including a proposal from Mayor Robert Garcia to provide emergency financial support for local artists impacted by closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The council item recommends a one-time Artists Fund be established to provide “$500 direct or other financial support for a period of six months to cover basic needs” for potentially up to 150 artists who qualify. When asked what qualifications artists will have to meet to access the funds, as well as who exactly qualifies as an artist (visual artists, writers, performing artists, musicians, etc.), James Ahumada, Garcia’s communications director, said, “the mayor hopes it to be a broader definition of artists.”

The proposal to support artists is in line with Garcia’s plan to set up a pilot universal basic income program to launch in 2021. With the city launching programs earlier this year to support businesses, nonprofits, landlords and tenants—the city provided $1,000 per month of rental assistance for qualifying residents impacted by COVID-19—the “guaranteed income artist fund” is considered a part of these relief efforts.

“We know that the arts have been one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic,” Garcia said in a statement. “With events coming to a halt in March, there is no doubt that these workers are struggling. This new guaranteed income program would help our artists support their basic needs and make it through this difficult period.”

The proposal comes from Garcia, as well as Councilwoman Mary Zendejas, Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, Vice Mayor Dee Andrews and Councilman Al Austin and recommends the City Manager report back on the feasibility of creating the one-time fund, which would be paid through CARES Act Community Development Block Grant Funds.

There are also two other arts-related items on the docket.

Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw’s recommendation to give a one-time donation of $2,500 from Fourth District Council Office funds to United Cambodian Community, which is organizing a community mural project on the wall of a medical clinic at East Anaheim Street and St. Louis Avenue.

Lastly, Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce is bringing a presentation on Catapult, an online creative platform designed to help artists gain an audience, to Tuesday’s council meeting. The presentation will focus on the online platform’s business model, how it could benefit the city as well as highlight business alternatives for musicians and bands.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.