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Glendale reviews its public art deal

Proposal to increase percentage of local artists gets bad reviews.

September 20, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

A program that brought art to vacant storefronts in downtown Glendale may be expanded to other areas in the city — and it may get a new operator.

The program began in 2010 as a way to brighten the empty windows that multiplied as the recession wore on.

The Arts & Culture Commission this week recommended that the city advertise for a new consultant to manage the program. Earlier this month, some council members said they would be in favor of opening up the application period to give others a chance to expand the scope of the program. 

“It’s really to use the success of the last program and build on that,” said Annette Vartanian, a city program supervisor, during a City Hall meeting Thursday afternoon.

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Vartanian added that the consultant would have to be creative as the proposed budget — $60,000 — is relatively small for the two-year program. The consultant will have to pay for marketing, the program, insurance and its own expenses with that money, she said.

Glendale has $1.4 million in art funds collected from developers. Officials said they want to spread out that money over several years since it’s unclear whether there will be another building boom. About 2,000 new units are now under construction or in the development pipeline for downtown Glendale.

Originally, the city paid Praccis, a Los Angeles firm, $83,000 in 2010 to launch the program, but that sum came out of money tied to a program aimed at reducing blight in the downtown corridor.

This year, since that money is no longer available because the state dissolved redevelopment programs throughout California, the city plans to use money it received from multiple developers building apartment complexes downtown to pay for the art.

Erik Qvale, director of public art at Praccis, said he was unaware that the city was looking for a new consultant, but added he will review the Praccis proposal. 

“I’ll look into it and we’ll take a look and go from there,” he said. 

Arts & Culture Commissioner Hrayr Sherikian said while he agreed with the new take on the program, he wanted to require the future consultant to display more Glendale artists in the vacant storefronts than have been featured in the past. As per the current proposal, the consultant would be required to have at least 20% of the artists be from Glendale, but Sherikian wanted more than twice as many. 

But his suggestion flopped as other commissioners said that would be an undue burden. 

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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