Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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Barnsdall privatization 'a work in progress'

Funny thing that the broadcast of Larry Mantle's radio segment on food trucks just ended. Councilman Tom LaBonge was a guest on the show, and just last night I attended a Barnsdall Arts Center meeting where LaBonge arrived late, apologizing and explaining that he'd been taping a KPCC radio piece about food trucks. He added that he had driven the speed limit all the way from Pasadena, "and there is a drizzle."

He may have wished he could have missed the whole thing -- the meeting that is. Held in the theater of the Barnsdall complex, it was a question-and-answer session on the more than likely privatization of Barnsdall's venerable public arts education programs for children and adults. There are two issues: keeping the arts center open and how. The good message of the evening is that city reps were unanimous in stating a commitment to keep the arts programs open at Barnsdall; the bad news is that current employees, who make the place what it is, will probably lose their jobs.

In the audience were members of arts organizations, representatives of two neighborhood councils (Los Feliz, East Hollywood, and Griffith Park area -- no one from Echo Park's council), students of the center, and a couple of dozen employees. Twenty-five to thirty people in the audience wore bright orange T-shirts, which called for keeping the arts center public. Many of the people wearing the shirts were instructors or other staff who will lose their jobs if/when a private "partner" is chosen.

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