Arts Council Shake-Up Expected : Politics: Gov. Wilson may remove at least four members within weeks and name Joanne Kozberg executive director.
Gov. Pete Wilson is expected to order a major shake-up of the California Arts Council within the next four weeks, removing four of the panel’s 11 members and naming a new executive director, sources familiar with the impending actions said Friday.
The appointment or reappointments of four council members nominated by former Gov. George Deukmejian days before Wilson’s January inauguration are expected to be withdrawn. It is expected that Wilson will name as many as six new members to the 11-person council, which has a $15.8-million budget and gives out more than $13 million in grants annually to state artists and arts organizations.
It is anticipated that Joanne Kozberg, a longtime Music Center board member and influential figure in the Southern California arts community, will be named executive director of the arts agency in the next month, sources said. She was initially appointed to the council by Deukmejian in March, 1988, and reappointed in 1990. She served as council chair in 1989 and 1990 and is currently its co-vice chair.
Arts council sources and others familiar with the situation said Wilson deputies have called members of the arts council during the last 10 days to confirm removal of the four Deukmejian appointees. They are Humboldt County arts supporter Sally Arnot, Fresno clothing retailer and arts patron Larry Balakian, Sacramento arts patron Shirley Chilton and Joyce Stein, a member of a key support committee of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
Balakian and Chilton were initially appointed and Arnot and Stein reappointed by Deukmejian in January. Arnot has served on the council since 1987 and Stein since April, 1990. The four-year appointments require Senate confirmation, which had been routinely held up pending Wilson’s approval.
No names of possible replacement nominees have surfaced, according to a range of sources.
Kozberg declined to comment, referring calls to Wilson’s office. Officials in the governor’s appointments office and a Wilson press spokesman also declined to comment. It was learned, however, that, within the last two weeks, Wilson aides have informed other potential candidates for the executive director job that Kozberg had been selected and that her appointment would be announced later this month or in early September.
The executive director’s job was left vacant with the resignation of Robert Reid several months ago.
Wilson is on vacation until Aug. 21, a spokesman said.
Kozberg said she has not discussed the appointment with the governor personally. But arts council sources said she has played a key role in the selection of a new Wilson arts leadership team.
Asked if she planned to relocate to Sacramento, Kozberg said, “Sacramento is a wonderful community and that’s where the office is.”
Kozberg, who is vice chair of the committee raising funds to build the proposed Walt Disney Concert Hall, declined to comment on how accepting the arts council executive director’s post would affect her position with the Music Center.
As a council member, she routinely excused herself from votes pertaining to the Music Center and was seen as trying to avoid the appearance of favoring large established arts organizations over smaller avant-garde ones, according to council members. However, they said, Kozberg would face a challenge as executive director because she could not remove herself from any arts council action.
The number of new appointees to the council could rise to six, arts council officials said. Naming Kozberg as executive director would open a vacancy on the council. There also is an unfilled vacancy created by the resignation earlier this year of San Bernardino developer Nicholas Coussoulis.
Wilson seems to be seeking a council with a better balance between active artists and arts patrons, sources said. Wilson was said to be concerned that under Deukmejian the council tilted too far toward arts patrons and civic leaders.