Everyone loves the Crocker Art Museum. But a plan to forgive the cultural hub a $7.5 million debt deserves a little vetting.
So it’s odd that the Sacramento City Council put the item on its July 23 consent calendar, which is rarely discussed before getting approved. Odder still, Councilwoman Angelique Ashby asked two critical members of the public on July 16 to hold their comments since “we’ll be discussing the item at the next meeting.”
But the city council didn’t discuss it last night. Instead, a few concerned members of the public raised the Debt That Shall Not Be Named, demanding to know why the city’s blue-chip arts institutions get the green while smaller, more diverse art houses get ignored.
“My concern is we give a lot of funding to the major arts organizations,” said George Raya, who sits on the board of La Raza Galeria Posada. “But we’re not doing enough for our local, community-based arts organizations.”
Housed in a city-owned building, La Raza is a public arts space geared for Latino, Chicano and native expression. Raya stressed that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of his 41-year-old organization, but asked the council to drop an eligibility requirement that would exclude small groups like his from applying for a new $210,000 city grant.
“Public schools, universities, state agencies are not arts organizations,” he said of groups able to apply for as much as $100,000 in matching funds. “We should really be funding small, community-based organizations.”
When Councilman Steve Hansen encouraged La Raza to apply, Raya explained his group couldn’t under the proposed eligibility requirements.
“Unfortunately, we wouldn’t qualify, because you have to own your own building or be in the process of buying it or have a long-term lease,” Raya explained.
The city provides the building in which La Raza runs its programs, but does so on a one-year-lease basis.
“The devil’s in the details, isn’t it?” needled Lorraine Brown, who objected to the Crocker bailout, at least without conditions.
“The Crocker should provide affordable, sliding-scale memberships for people like myself,” she said.
After council constant Mac Worthy applied his “pimping the people” catchphrase to the Crocker matter, the council swiftly approved its list of consent calendar items. With one vote. And without discussion.