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Art Walk Non-Profit, Property Owners Announce Funding Plan

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, October 01, 2010, at 05:02PM
Art Walk Crown Photo Illustration by Ed Fuentes

One week after its announced cancellation, the Downtown Art Walk has sprung back to life with a funding plan that will allow for the hiring of a full-time executive director and cover expenses for the once-a-month event.

A group of property owners brought together by Tom Gilmore will contribute roughly $200,000 per year to the event.

"It was a pretty outstanding expression of support by property owners that don't often do a lot of things together," Gilmore said this afternoon. "To get this level of support is a pretty great testament to the power of Art Walk."

Just one week ago, Art Walk Executive Director Jay Lopez sent out a release saying that the event would be "ceasing all event operations until January 2011". That announcement brought an immediate uproar from community members commenting on blogdowntown.

It also brought a response from the board of the Art Walk non-profit, which accused Lopez of sending the announcement without their permission and said the event would continue as planned on October 14.

While Lopez — now referred to as the "former director of the event" — may not have had the board's approval, his actions seem to have turned out in their favor.

"What became very clear to us right after last Friday's press release went out was that there was a large groundswell of support for Art Walk to continue," said board chair David Hernand this afternoon.

That groundswell and the potential loss of an event that brings 20,000 people to the Historic Core each month helped create action on the board's very real funding issues.

"Sometimes you need the threat of something going away to make someone act," Hernand noted. While the board had attempted to raise funds before, "they thought Art Walk would just continue anyway, so why would they need to [contribute]?"

Art Walk attendees shouldn't expect to see any real changes in October, but behind the scenes work will be underway to find a new, paid executive director.

"For an event that draws 20,000 people once a month, we need someone full time to do that," said Hernand.

Gilmore agrees.

"I think it's essential," he said. "I think it's important to have someone there who is dedicated to it full-time and whose only agenda is to do a good job in their position."

Hernand said that some of the funding will also go to support programming during the event. "We really want to put an emphasis on making art walk about art," he said. "There are programming elements that we will be able to do as a result of having a real budget."

While it was widely reported — including here on blogdowntown — that of the forces driving the non-profit's need for cash was a bill from the LAPD, Hernand chalks that up to a misunderstanding. "The LAPD is not expecting to get reimbursed for the policing work that is part of their charter," he said.

The funding came out of a meeting that Gilmore called on Wednesday. Participating in the funding group with Gilmore are Isaac and Eric Shomof of Pacific Investments, Alex Moradi of P.E. Lofts, Barry and Romy Shy of SB Properties, Ruben Islas of Amerland, Saeed Farkhondepour of the Medallion, The Hellen Group.

Gilmore praised the work of the volunteer Art Walk board in hanging in there to find a solution. "They've endured a lot of slings and arrows," he said. "I think they're doing a good job and now I think they can do a better job."

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Downtown Art Walk

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