Arts Answers Part II: City Council Candidates Discuss Long Beach Arts with the Culture Agent • Long Beach Post

With municipal elections just around the corner, Culture Agent columnist Sander Roscoe Wolff reached out to all of the candidates running for City Council, asking them to answer five questions clarifying their ideas about the importance of the arts in the district they hope to represent.

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Eight of 11 candidates took time to answer the questions. Part II of the Arts Answers series includes answers for questions four and five. 

4) Will you advocate for a city-wide conversation about various municipal arts funding and fund management paradigms? Explain your position.

Eric Gray | Second District Candidate

Yes, community projects, including municipal arts, must always have a cumulative and collaborative vision and effort. A city-wide conversation about art funding is needed if we want to ensure that it is in the best interests of all our constituents. I will work and talk with our artists, art supporters, and, perhaps most importantly, our community to embrace, preserve, and improve the vibrant arts and culture that has become iconic to our city.

Robert Harmon | Sixth District Candidate

Of course I will advocate for a city-wide conversation about various municipal arts funding. It’s the keystone of my Cambodia Town Beautification Project. I will fight to fund such endeavors and it’s why I’m running. I’ve studied many forms of fund management paradigms and I’m going to champion several of them. One of my plans is establishing a program for the city to support and sponsor “social impact bonds.” This will be done on my first day in office so we can get my beautification and revitalization projects officially chartered by the city…Again…It’s why I’m running (Please read my Cambodia Town Beautification Project Vision Plan)

Josie Villasenor | Sixth District Candidate

Yes, I would advocate to discuss municipal funding for the arts to better understand how much government support and funding is feasible.

Joen Garnica | Second District Candidate

As I stated above, I support Mayor Garcia’s 1% funding program, and will always support open dialogue about ways to improve the implementation of programs. Ideas can come from many places and often from those outside the fray. Fresh perspective can make all the difference.

Laurie Angel | Eighth District Candidate

This is a great idea. With the formation of an 8th district cultural advisory commission part of their mission would be to identify assets, funding, and to meet with other cultural commissions throughout the city to help determine ways municipal arts may be funded and expressed. An annual citywide meeting to bring together those of similar interests with city, business and educational representatives can review previous efforts and develop new ideas that would serve the city and its communities well. An active, ongoing dialog will help us establish and commit to the creative culture we strive for. Creativity can apply to enrichment in education, business, the public and other communities of interest. We can be lifted from the mundane and routine to the new and exciting.

Dee Andrews | Sixth District Write-In Candidate

I have and will continue to not only encourage citywide conversations about arts funding, but also serve as a liaison between community members and City Hall to ensure that the arts are prioritized. I co-authored and voted to pass Mayor Robert Garcia’s proposal to allocate 1% of the City Budget to the arts, requested an Artists’ Business License Fee Exemption, and sponsored numerous art and cultural events since 2007. Looking forward, I will continue to search for additional opportunities to create funding for cultural and creative efforts while I am in office.

Jeannine Pearce | Second District Candidate

If I’m elected to serve on the Long Beach City Council, one of my priorities will be to push for dedicated spending on the arts in Long Beach. We can change this funding paradigm by bringing back the 1% development fee to support the arts and begin making a lasting investment in arts community. I know that these funds can help to enrich our city’s after-school programs, create unique spaces for artists to create their art, and establish another funding source for local artists in Long Beach to ply their craft.

Al Austin | Eighth District Candidate

Yes, I supported the City Council action to explore options to fund the arts, including a “One percent for the Arts” program. The City should look at best practices in other cities, as well as be creative in identifying funding sources to promote the arts throughout Long Beach.

5) What are the under-utilized municipal assets in your district that could help support the creative, cultural, and artistic efforts of your constituents? How would you make them more easily accessible?

Eric Gray | Second District Candidate:

The 2nd District has a large number of public spaces that can be better utilized for live musical and visual events, including Bixby Park, Rose Park, Promenade Square Park, and Terrace Theater Plaza. As Councilmember, I will reach out to the music and theatrical community, as well as residents, to identify community solutions to bring out the artistic potential of these non- or under-utilized spaces in our neighborhood.

We have an abundance of musical and performance talent, creative artists, engaged local businesses, interested residents, and public spaces here in Long Beach – by connecting these communities together and partnering with City Hall to streamline and enhance the way our city currently addresses entertainment permits, public space and special event permitting, and occasional use permits we can keep our city’s music and art scene flourishing. As Councilmember, this will be one of my top priorities, proudly working to keep Long beach home to a large, vibrant, and incredibly talented community of artists.

Robert Harmon | 6th District Candidate

There are several. First is the Manazar Gamboa Community Theater which is under utilized. I would make it and all the other 6th District Community Centers more available to local artists and community groups by expanding the resources of the Parks and Recreation Department. I’d also fight for more funding for programs in all the 6th district’s community centers. I will redirect funds from other big ticket city projects and will engage the Port of Long Beach for more funding for the artistic community. I will also appropriate funding to hire more city workers to keep community facilities and art programs running and will reach out to philanthropists, civic minded individuals and the private sector to establish corporate sponsorship for such programs. Long Beach is a wealthy community and anyone who says otherwise is being dishonest.

Josie Villasenor | 6th District Candidate

The under-utilized municipal assets are homemade crafts and the artists that made them. I would make them more easily accessible by bringing those artists into Events like the Neighborhood Art Walks.

Joen Garnica | 2nd District Candidate

There are opportunities all over the 2nd District. Parks that need installations or performance opportunities to create community events to showcase Long Beach talent, and art organizations that need fostering. As Councilwoman, I will have an open door policy to help facilitate the flow of ideas and to help organize, advertise, and fund efforts to bring the arts to my community. Building partnerships is something I pride myself on and I will continue to build those partnerships as a City Councilmember. As I like to say, Live. Love. Art.

Laurie Angel | 8th District Candidate

I think about this every time I see a plain utility box, a blank wall, a blank space, an empty lot, a patch of dirt or a drab building. With the facilitation of some wonderful local artists we can bring together people throughout the community to develop, create and work on creative and constructive projects, just as we have for tree planting or corridor and alley clean ups but to leave a lasting and beautiful impression for the enjoyment of the larger community. Further, in the 8th council district we have some older buildings with great architectural bones that could be enhanced with paint, murals, tile work, etc that will add to the attractiveness and beauty of the corridors if done right. We can build on the great work of many, especially Blair Cohn, John Royce and others that have dedicated themselves to similar efforts. I like the idea of bringing the community together to participate on larger scale artistic projects.

Dee Andrews | 6th District Write-In Candidate

All municipal property has the potential to be utilized for artistic and creative expression and I plan on streamlining the process for artists to access public right of ways to create murals and other public art pieces. Most importantly, I have and will continue to focus on connecting the people of this rich and diverse community together through and for art.

Jeannine Pearce | 2nd District Candidate

Throughout Downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods there are numerous open storefronts, vacant warehouse space, and other under- utilized real estate. One major asset that is currently under-utilized is the old space where Walmart was once located. This huge warehouse space could serve as a new incubator for local artists, chefs, brewmasters, designers, and entrepreneurs if the City of Long Beach works with non- profits and community organizations to turn it into a new community market or Zocalo.

This new space could offer artists on the cusp of opening their own storefronts the ability to sell their art, food, or new products at a local market subsidized by the city with small business support services on site. This empty space could be turned into a thriving local, public market allowing local artists to sell their products to the public and allow the city to invest a small sum in helping new local small businesses and the arts thrive.

Al Austin | 8th District Candidate

The Eighth District has numerous cultural and artistic resources, such as the Expo Arts Center, Rancho Los Cerritos and public spaces throughout the community. They are succeeding in reaching residents throughout the community and region, but I will continue to work with them to identify further ways to grow and make them more easily accessible to constituents.

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