Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu announced Monday that he will introduce a proposal to financially assist local artists affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
“Los Angeles is the creative capital of the world, but our creatives are suffering right now,” Ryu said. “The economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic has put thousands out of work and arts nonprofits at risk of permanent closure.”
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, which will be held via teleconference, Ryu said he will file a motion to transfer art development fees into an “artist relief and grant fund,” which would provide small grants to artists and art nonprofit organizations located with his Fourth District, which includes the Hollywood Hills and parts of the southern San Fernando Valley.
Ryu said he is also seeking to amend city law to make it easier to repurpose art development fees into additional emergency relief funds for artists and related nonprofits.
A coalition of more than 140 arts organizations in Los Angeles has signed a letter — penned by Arts for LA — in support of the motion, calling for it to be expanded citywide, Ryu said.
“One in six jobs in Los Angeles are in the creative sector, and despite the enormity of the industry, COVID-19 has effectively brought all jobs in the arts and culture field to a standstill,” said Winifred Neisser, the board chair of Arts for LA.
Ryu said his district has more than $1.2 million in available art development fees, which would assist artists in creating artwork and performances available to the public online. Ryu also sent a letter to Department of Cultural Affairs urging an immediate repurposing of the funds into emergency grants.
The motion would direct the Department of Cultural Affairs to report back on how the program could be expanded in the future.
Since the art development funds are tied to each council district, Ryu’s funding could only be spent on artists and nonprofits based in the Fourth Council District. The total art development funds available citywide is more than $10.9 million, according to Ryu’s office.
Of the 294 arts projects currently identified for art development funds, only 25 are not earmarked for special events or arts festivals, all of which have been or likely will be canceled or postponed during the coronavirus pandemic, Ryu said.