Arts Commission down tolast straw
One member of the South Lake Tahoe Arts Commission, Sheila Jacobs, is resigning and commission chairperson, Sharon Reardon, has stated that she, too, will resign if city council does not approve the Arts Commission’s revised work plan, which includes a proposal for a city-funded Arts Coordinator.
“The concept of a coordinator is going to be hard to fund,” said City Manager David Childs at an Arts Commission meeting Thursday afternoon.
The Arts Commission presented their original work plan to the City Council on June 20, but the plan was tabled.
“We are an Arts Commission with no money and no direction,” Reardon said.
The proposed revision of the plan that was approved by the Arts Commission Thursday in a 3-1 vote will include changing the city-funded arts coordinator from a staff position to an independent contractor, which is exactly what it had been before the last arts coordinator Phylise Walker did not have her contract renewed last September; and it will retract the request for control of $25,000 to disperse to the arts community.
Members of the Arts Commission are volunteers and believe that the city should provide funding to pay for an Arts Coordinator, who would be able to dedicate full-time hours to the Arts Commission, Reardon said,
Mayor Tom Davis and Councilmember Brooke Laine both agree that the Arts Commission must produce a more definitive plan.
“What is the vision?” Davis said. “What is the arts coordinator going to do?”
In the original plan, the Arts Commission requested that the city fund a $75,000 program: $25,000 to hire a new arts coordinator who would be a part of city staff; $25,000 which the Arts Commission would disperse to the arts community and $25,000 for art workshops and special programs.
The concept for the plan was suggested by former City Manager Kelly Miller, Reardon said. From last November to April the Arts Commission devised a plan based on fact finding missions to other thriving arts communities, such as Santa Fe, N.M.,Sedona, Ariz. and Cannon Beach, OR.
Davis has stated that he wants the Arts Commission to develop private partnerships, which it can combine with city funding.
City council on August 1 approved $7,500 to the Arts Commission, which it in turn donated to the Heritage Murals of Lake Tahoe, a program that has received approximately $100,000 in private funding since its inception.
“We’ll find some resolution,” Davis said.
There is $32,500 left over from last year’s art budget, Davis said. But city council must approve allocation of any future funds.
Councilmember Bill Crawford doesn’t see a need for the Arts Commission to continue. “I think it would be a blessing for the Arts Commission to die a natural death,” he said.
The Arts Commission has floundered ever since Walker’s absence last September.
Since then several art projects, which were already in the works, were delayed, including the Washoe Woman at Linear Park and the Bear and Crescent Moon at Ski Run Boulevard. These art projects which were a part of the redevelopment art projects, however, were not delayed because of Walker’s absence, according to South Lake Tahoe Redevelopment manager Jaye VonKlug.
“Phylise did a very professional job and worked closely in concert with the city ,” VonKlug said.
After Walker left, the urban design elements and installation of the art for the redevelopment project were placed in the hands of VonKlug, City Planner Gary Marchio and City Engineer Brad Vidro.
Delays, according to VonKlug, were caused by logistics with urban design, not because of the lack of the Arts Coordinator.
The Arts Commission complained that they were not included in the final unveiling of these art projects.
“To the best of my knowledge no one from the Arts Commission has tried to contact me,” VonKlug said.
The role that the Arts Commission has played in public art projects since it lost its art coordinator has been almost non-existent. Instead city staff have taken on the responsibility of carrying out plans that had originally been initiated by Walker.
“It is hard for the Commission to act as a Commission if we don’t know what is going on,” said art commissioner Vicki Hanes.
The Commission complained that it was not informed by the city on art matters since Walker left, and that Councilmember Brooke Laine, who is the liaison to the Arts Commission, has not been working with the Arts Commission.
“If we don’t have a rapport with the city council we don’t have a purpose,” Reardon said.
Laine asked to be liaison to the Arts Commission after Phylise walker left and worked with the Arts Commission from January to March, she said. But since then she has not attended any of its meetings.
“I got the impression that my help was not desired and that the most good I could do on their behalf is simply get out of their way,” Laine said.
“The thing about them that is beautiful is that they really have a passion for the arts, but they don’t know what to do with it,” she added.
Since the Arts Commission began in 1991, it has helped facilitate projects such as the Studio Arts Tour, Heritage Murals and Art in Public Places.
But even though the Arts Commission is having problems facilitating art projects, many private organizations around the lake such as the Tahoe Arts Project, Tahoe Tallac Association and The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival continue to thrive.
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