Glendale to continue temporary art exhibits, for now

Stripped of resources once afforded by local redevelopment, Glendale must weigh what’s more important: temporary art exhibits that brighten vacant storefronts, or permanent projects that become staples in the community.

“I think you need a balance,” said Councilwoman Laura Friedman at a City Hall meeting Tuesday. “Having changing, dynamic projects bring a kind of excitement to downtown.”

Since December 2010, Glendale has spent $63,000 on 16 exhibits in vacant storefronts that have riddled the downtown streetscape amid a protracted recession.

But in February, the state axed local redevelopment in a bid close its own yawning multi-billion dollar budget gap. Doing so eliminated the key funding source for the temporary art program.

With the funding resource gone, the City Council decided this week to review using other money to continue the art program, known as Glendale Area Temporary Exhibitions.

The city wants to take money from a $975,000 Urban Art Fund — replenished with fees paid by new developments — that was originally set aside for art projects throughout the city.

But on Tuesday, the proposal experienced some push back.

Councilman Ara Najarian said the art fund should go to “permanent artwork that will last for years and decades in this city, not something that will fund a temporary art exhibit.”

“This was a great project when we had a redevelopment agency with excess disposable funds,” Najarian said, adding without that resource, the city should reassess the program.

But Friedman countered that the exhibits attracted people to Glendale’s downtown — a marketing point for the city that should be supported, not abandoned.

Mayor Frank Quintero agreed.

“I think it’s done a wonderful job,” he said. “I’m prepared to fund it one more year out of the art fund.”

The exhibits, some of which included public receptions and art walks that attracted an average of 200 people, have caught the eye of other cities, including Pasadena.

Passersby can still see some exhibits on 50 W. Broadway, 101 N. Brand Suite 80 and 101 N. Brand Suite 140.

City officials plan to present options on how to continue the temporary art projects to the Arts & Culture Commission, which will then make its recommendation to the City Council.

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