'Take advantage of our expertise'

CITY HALL — City arts commissioners on Thursday pushed publicly for a more active role in the city’s efforts to transform Glendale into an arts destination.

Created more than a decade ago to help drive the city's strategic plan for the arts, the Arts & Culture Commission has in recent years focused mainly on coordinating arts events, such as the city’s annual Open Studio Tour.

At one time slated to be replaced by a city-subsidized nonprofit arts council, the City Council voted last year to allow the commission to remain and work in addition to the proposed council, which has yet to be formed.

During a special study session on Thursday, commissioners said they would like to take a more proactive role in helping to guide civic arts programming at a time when a variety of projects are underway.

“We’ve been appointed for our expertise,” said Commissioner Teri Deaver. “Please use us to the extent that you can.”

City Council members John Drayman and Laura Friedman have been especially vocal on supporting a number of art programs and projects that they say would increase Glendale's cultural prestige while at the same time boosting local economic development.

The City Council last week approved a deal to bring the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Museum of Neon Art to a city-owned building across from the Americana at Brand as an anchor for a proposed downtown arts and entertainment district.

Other programs include a series of arts displays in vacant storefronts downtown and transforming the San Fernando corridor into a mecca for creative industries.

Deaver encouraged making the commission’s website more all-encompassing with arts programs from all city departments.

“There should be one place where an artist or art patron can go,” she said. “I think for all the investment, it’s going to be defrayed because people can’t see it in a place where it makes sense and is accessible.”

Longtime Commissioner Arman Keyvanian said he hopes the commission would be given a chance to influence City Council policy decisions.

“Are we going to go the event route, or are we going to go down the policy route? Because right now we are trying to do both, and it’s just not working,” he said. “Our expertise is on the arts side, and if that’s not being utilized, then I ask myself this question: What am I doing here?”

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