Funding Public Art

The Los Angeles City Council tapped the wrong financial source when it decided to create an endowment fund for public art.

The City Council voted to tax builders of commercial and industrial developments, and financed a costly “nexus” study to manufacture a “link” between the fee and the development on which the fee is imposed. State law AB 1600 outlaws development fees unless such a link is present.

The study was inconclusive, but did reveal that taxpayers already provide a substantial subsidy for the arts. The various city departments spend $43.8 million annually, between $12 and $13 per city resident, on the arts and cultural services.

An entertainment fee, used by cities across the nation, is the most appropriate source for a city arts endowment. Several years ago, when I first proposed such a tax, the city administrative officer estimated that a 10% entertainment fee would bring in $18 million annually.


An entertainment fee would be paid by people who can afford it. And the fee revenue could replace $18 million of that $43.8 million in the General Fund, providing some relief for the service cutbacks and budget deficits that lie ahead.


Councilman, Seventh District