Major campaigns designed "to shove Los Angeles into the center of the arts world" have quietly begun at City Hall--and in Century City.
Although the public and private sector programs are on separate tracks, they seem to be working toward the same destination with a multitude of cross-connections.
With a minimum of fanfare, a 38-member Mayor's Blue-Ribbon Committee--the Los Angeles Task Force on the Arts--has been operating since March, holding a series of meetings designed to set up a comprehensive, consolidated policy of public support of the arts.
A report by the committee of top figures in the city's arts and business community is due in September. A key item on its agenda is a proposal by Councilman Joel Wachs for the creation of a $15-million to $20-million Los Angeles Endowment for the Arts "to lead Los Angeles into the 21st Century as one of the world's foremost cultural capitals."
In the private sector, a newly named Los Angeles Arts Council--formerly the Century City Cultural Commission--is working on plans to raise at least $1 million for an arts fund to benefit smaller arts organizations--those with annual budgets of less than $500,000.
Last week, Harold M. Williams, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, hosted a late-afternoon reception of the Los Angeles Arts Council leadership. Nancy Englander, a consultant to the trust and closely affiliated with it, has been named to the task force, replacing Williams.
Today the Los Angeles Arts Council and California State University, Los Angeles are co-sponsoring a countywide meeting of local arts organizations at the university to discuss the creation of a united arts fund.
Keynote speakers scheduled are former state Sen. Alan Sieroty, president of the city's Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the mayoral task force, and William T. Chamberlin, senior vice president for corporate affairs of Arco.
Sieroty noted that Jacqueline Kronberg, executive director of the Los Angeles Arts Council, who has been spearheading the arts fund, has been meeting with members of the mayor's task force. Today Michael Pittas, former dean of Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design and a former director of the design arts program of the National Endowment for the Arts, is among those attending the Cal State conference.
"Los Angeles really needs an organization to give support to that middle range of nonprofit arts organizations," Sieroty said. "And the need is for operating funds."
Kronberg, who formerly served as program director for the Children's Museum downtown, said there are 53 arts funds throughout the country.
"With government funds for the arts literally drying up," she said, "the only way that the smaller arts organizations can survive is to unite their efforts. This will allow for cooperative fund raising, which should lower solicitation costs and maximize the use of funds for producing art."
Kronberg cautioned that the Los Angeles Arts Council is beginning modestly and should not hamper other fund-raising efforts, such as those for the Music Center.
"We have the potential to create a major united arts fund," she said. "Our city is rapidly becoming the arts capital of the world."
Meanwhile in the public sector, Wach's endowment program, modeled after similar programs elsewhere, proposes:
--at least 1% of all public capital improvements funds be set aside for art in public places;
--at least 1% of qualified private construction project funds be set aside for public works of art, development of cultural facilities, special cultural programming or individual artist-initiated, publicly accessible cultural projects;
--a 1% hotel tax for challenge grants to qualified artists, arts organizations and arts institutions and commissions for new works of art;
--adoption of a strong, new ordinance preserving and restoring significant cultural and historic sites throughout the city.
A spokesman for Wachs said that if the endowment proposal receives support from the task force and Mayor Bradley, the City Council might consider it later this year.
(Last year Los Angeles mandated that 1% of private development money be set aside for art if a project is in the downtown area and the Community Redevelopment Agency is involved.)
Co-chairing the task force, whose members were appointed by Bradley and council president Pat Russell, are Peg Yorkin, artistic director of the L.A. Public Theatre, and Robert Maguire, a downtown developer. Honorary co-chairmen are Franklin D. Murphy, former chairman of the executive committee of the board of directors of Times Mirror Co. (and a trustee of the Los Angeles Arts Council), and Andrea Van de Kamp, director of public affairs for Carter Hawley Hale and wife of the state attorney general.
Other members include Gordon Davidson and Bill Bushnell, artistic directors of the Mark Taper Forum and the Los Angeles Theatre Center; Richard Koshalek, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art; Ernest Fleischmann, executive director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Bella Lewitzky, choreographer of the dance company that carries her name; actor Michael Douglas, and producer/director Steven Spielberg.