Arts & Entertainment

On Arts Day in LA, advocates gather at City Hall to urge more investment

City councilman Mitch O'Farrell addresses council members along with arts advocates at City Hall.
City councilman Mitch O'Farrell addresses council members along with arts advocates at City Hall.

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Arts advocates in Los Angeles got a win this week when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared it "Arts Week" throughout the county’s 88 cities. But on Arts Day, which has been recognized by the city for five years, they took to City Hall to lobby for more funding for arts initiatives. 

The Arts Day gathering is organized by the nonprofit Arts for L.A., and this year they focused on three legislative items. Sofia Klatzker, the program's executive director, said the biggest ask is increased investment in the community arts centers.

"They’re not staffed to the level that they need to be and they’re not getting the kind of resources so that we’re really serving kids, especially in the after school hours," she said.

The group is also urging investment in the Arts Activation Fund, which supports community arts projects and, with the ban on murals recently lifted in the city, more money for preservation and creation of fine art murals. 

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, chair of the Arts, Parks and L.A. River Committee, introduced Klatzker and others as they presented these goals during Wednesday's city council meeting. Most of the meeting was dedicated to Arts Day.

O'Farrell read a proclamation commemorating April 6 as a day to "celebrate our city's arts, culture and creative sector" in Los Angeles. 

"Art challenges us, it inspires us," O'Farrell said, addressing his fellow council members and more than 100 advocates in the chambers. "In so many instances, art is what makes life worth living to so many people -- not to mention the economic benefits that arts provide in our neighborhoods.

A group of young cellists from Youth Orchestra LA at the Heart of Los Angeles (YOLA at HOLA) played for advocates as they gathered in the rotunda ahead of the meeting.
A group of young cellists from Youth Orchestra LA at the Heart of Los Angeles (YOLA at HOLA) played for advocates as they gathered in the rotunda ahead of the meeting.
Priska Neely/KPCC

The meeting featured an performance that combined spoken word and music and testimony from actress Amy Aquino and muralist Judy Baca. Towards the end, many of the council members stood to add their personal stories about the role of arts in their lives. 

This week, the Board of Supervisors approved $500,000 in arts grants Tuesday to organizations primarily focused on health, human services and criminal justice. These are part of the first round of Community Impact Arts Grant program, which supports cross-sector strategies in the arts.