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Winging It at City Council’s Arts Meeting, plus Expo Update

February 4, 2010

LA always seems to grapple with budget woes. This year, the city faces a deficit of $175 million. As a solution to this problem, the LA city council proposed earlier in the year to send the city’s arts funding to the chopping block.

This caused quite a flutter within LA’s arts community, and yesterday some of the art program’s beneficiaries made the case to keep arts funding to the council. Department of Cultural Affairs director Olga Garay pledged to trim her budget by $500,000. The citizenry also weighed in; artist and art teacher Lilia Ramirez arrived sporting a giant pair of wings. The unflappable Ms. Ramirez pointed out that art funding rescued her from the streets and helped her find a place in life – she also threatened that if they did in fact cut arts funding, she would molt in the council chamber. Eventually, the council agreed to keep the funding in place.

Now, I don’t like the thought of rubber stamping every civic program. But there’s something about seeing someone show up at a stuffy council meeting in a wing outfit that makes me proud to live here. The budget is a serious issue, but if we chop out programs that help make this a good place to live, we won’t have a city worth balancing a budget for. The council’s decision to keep funding helps breathe life into this city, and is ultimately the right move.

In other news today, the Expo Line is up for final approval from the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors. They meet at 2:00 PM at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration downtown. The meeting is expected to be heated, as NIMBY front group Neighbors For Smart Rail will be doing all the can to either stall or kill the project. The Times has weighed in with a ringing endorsement of the train as currently proposed. Look for more on this soon.

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