LOS ANGELES -- The Arts Development Fee, better known as the Per Cent for Art program, has been of modest benefit to the local theatrical community since its inception in 1989, largely because the pay-out has been in barter rather than cash.
Two city ordinances passed nine years ago created an Arts Development Fee and Trust Fund that required developers to pay up to one percent of their building permit valuation into the Arts Development Fee Trust Fund as a condition of approval for new development projects.
Administered by the Public Arts Division of the Cultural Affairs Department, the fee can be paid in two ways: by direct deposit into the City's ADFT fund, or by applying for a dollar-for-dollar credit for an arts amenity or service which the developer can provide on the site in question.
Approximately $4 million has been collected in the Fund to date. These monies have gone to support such cultural activities as the LA Festival, California African American Museum and the Watts Tower Restoration. In-kind contributions (projects equal to the dollar amount of the valuation) have amounted to approximately $5 million. Major contributors to the ADFT fund include Anheuser-Busch, Paramount Pictures, Carole Little, United Airlines, LA Fitness, Office Depot, and Hanna Barbera Productions, among others.
These companies have installed sculptures, galleries, murals, exhibition spaces and other similar cultural amenities on their property, benefitting such artists, sculptors and designers as Claes Oldenberg, Jose Antonio Aguirre, Sue Kim and Rod Baer. Theatre groups benefitting from the one-percnt fund include the Bilingual Foundation, Road Theatre Co., Actors Alley and Cornerstone Theatre. In most cases these groups received office space in the new developments, though Actors Alley was aided as well by the Kane Construction Co. in its restoration of the El Portal Theatre.
Leslie Tamaribuchi, managing director of the Cornerstone Theatre Co., said her group received one-year's worth of space at Public Storage. "This was about four years ago. It was helpful because we are an itinerant company, but the deal was for one year only, with no option to extend. We didn't apply again because we didn't know which Public Storage facility we might end up at; you have no choice in the matter. Having to move our things every year was more trouble than it was worth."
Ron Sossi, artistic director of the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, said while his company has occasionally received cash payments from the city's general Cultural Grants program, he hasn't been helped at all by the one- percent fund. "San Francisco has a similar tax," he pointed out. "Last year a company equivalent in size to ours got $35,000 from the city--the price of a new production. It's a shame that kind of cash isn't available to us." -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent