It had been rumored for some weeks that the Los Angeles City Department of Cultural Affairs might kill the venerable arts program at Barnsdall Art Center in Hollywood. The Junior Arts program -- which my daughter has attended for the past year -- already had been cut back from eight classes per session to six. It seemed extreme that the successful program, founded in 1967, could become a budget fatality, but that was what people were whispering up at the park.
Still, as of last week, brochures were available, and it was marked on my calendar: registration March 27 for the spring session. Registration is a big deal, with parents arriving at the beautiful sculpture garden early, early in the morning -- I mean many before 5 a.m. -- to get in line to sign their kids up for classes. Some of the parents I've chatted with in line took Junior Arts Center classes themselves when they were kids. It's not just a tradition: the kids and adult classes were affordable, and the classes were small: $18 for a six-week, 85-minute "portraits" class for my daughter, for example. And that came with a highly qualified, experienced teacher and the beautiful facilities. In the past they were free.
It turns out we can all sleep in because the Department of Cultural Affairs has canceled spring classes for the Barnsdall and Junior Arts Centers. Due to budget constraints. The Arts Center posted the news on its Facebook page Thursday. At 5:40, I called the JAC and the adult program, but the offices were closed. The recorded message said nothing about the cancelations.
According to the Facebook page, "There is an Art, Parks, Health and Aging Committee Meeting Monday March 22, 2010 at 10am at City Hall, Room 1060. The current DCA budget dilemma will be discussed."
If you're wondering whom to call or write -- other than the mayor -- Tom LaBonge and Eric Garcetti are the important councilmembers regarding the park. And the Department of Cultural Affairs might want to hear your views.
According to the Junior Arts web site, they also export classes, serving a reported 8,000 city kids each year. I haven't heard the status of these classes.
*Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has more information at KPCC.