According to Julie Wong, press director for City Council President Eric Garcetti, the cancellation of art classes at Barnsdall came as a surprise.
In an email to Chicken Corner, Wong wrote:
I wanted to clarify some information related to the canceled classes at Barnsdall Art Park. We were surprised to learn about these cancellations as well -- particularly because funding for them was not cut by the City Council or Mayor.
After doing some research, we have discovered that this decision was made by the General Manager of the Cultural Affairs Department. According to Ms. Garay, three employees at the art center are planning to retire in June through the early retirement program. Rather than have an abbreviated session, Ms. Garay decided to cancel the classes altogether, even though those employees will continue to be on the city payroll until they actually retire in two months.
Council President Garcetti, who attended art classes at Barnsdall when he has a kid, is urging the department to move forward with Spring classes, even if the session is shorter. In the longer term, he is working to continue classes at Barnsdall, perhaps through a public-private (or nonprofit) partnership.
Well, the facilities are gorgeous, as you know if you have been to the hilltop park where Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House is located, along with galleries and the Art Center studios. It's hard to imagine arts organizations not jumping at the chance to use them. If they do, let's hope they don't replace affordable classes with expensive ones.