Outgoing Gov. George Deukmejian announced two new appointments to the California Arts Council, replacing two Los Angeles members. Later, one of the replaced members expressed concerns about the new council’s ethnic composition.
Gerald Yoshitomi, executive director of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, and Laurel Karabian, development officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, were not reappointed. In their places, Deukmejian named Larry Balakian, a Fresno businessman associated with the Fresno Symphony and the Assn. of California Symphony Orchestras, and Shirley Chilton of Sacramento, who retired Dec. 28 as Deukmejian’s secretary of state and consumer services.
Deukmejian reappointed council members Sally Arnot of Eureka, Nicholas Koussoulis of San Bernardino and Joyce Stein of Palm Desert to four-year terms.
Yoshitomi said on Friday that he had not sought reappointment because of the “extensive amount of time” the post had taken away from his duties at JACCC. Karabian did not return phone calls from The Times Friday.
Yoshitomi, who was the California Arts Council’s only Asian-American member, said the governor’s appointments left him with “some concerns” about the nine-member council’s ethnic makeup. He noted that the only remaining non-Anglo member, Consuelo Santos-Killins, was originally appointed in 1982 by the state Legislature. (The governor appoints five and the legislature four of the council’s members.)
“There is not even one Hispanic or African-American appointee by the governor, and that concerns me,” Yoshitomi said.
Yoshitomi said, however, that Friday’s appointments will “give a little more geographic spread” to the council and should help counteract “concerns that there were not enough Northern California representatives” on the council, which is still predominantly Southern California-based.
“I think the appointments reflect the growth of the arts in other areas of the state,” said Yoshitomi, “although there’s still no one from San Francisco or San Diego, and if I was from those areas I’d certainly be concerned.”
While there is still no word on when incoming Gov. Pete Wilson might name his six CAC staff appointments, which include the executive director post currently held by Robert Reid, Yoshitomi said that Deukmejian’s decision to fill the expiring council positions before leaving office may portend early staff decisions by Wilson.
“This shows that the arts are important enough for Gov. Deukmejian to have made these decisions before the end of his term, and I would hope that would mean that Wilson would also find the arts important and make his decisions sooner, rather than later,” Yoshitomi said.