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Arts Commission expresses frustration over delays

Suzanne Guldimann, Freelance Reporter
3:36 pm PDT June 3, 2014

The community arts projects proposed by the Malibu Cultural Arts Commission still face an array of obstacles, leading some members of the Commission to express frustration at the panel’s May 27 meeting, but the message of the evening was that the City’s newest commission is making progress.

Although some members of the Commission indicated they were dismayed at amount of bureaucratic red tape involved in moving forward with the panel’s plans, City staff reassured the Commissioners that progress was being made.

Commissioner Richard Gibbs summed up the concerns. 

“We don’t have our own webpage,” he said. “We don’t have a way of getting [our] message out. We don’t have our own voice. [The Commission] started almost a year and a half ago and we haven’t seen any of our projects except one come to fruition. There’s red tape just to put up [an exhibit of] surfboards [at City Hall].”

“What we have to do is get a cultural shift within the City of Malibu, within the city government,” Gibbs continued. “Without that we are kind of spinning our wheels. Art in Legacy Park? That hasn’t gone anywhere. The salon series? It’s been three months. People want to participate and can’t. Until we have a shift, all we’re doing is rubber-stamping existing projects. I don’t think we should be approving bands for Malipaloosa or art for storm drains. What do we need to do in order to engender public support so the City Council will feel inspired?”

“This commission is literally groundbreaking,” City of Malibu Recreation Manager Amy Crittenden told the Commissioners. “You’re doing things that have never been done. I’m hitting the same stumbling blocks trying to push these things too, and my shins are bruised, but we can get it done. We’ll have growing pains together, but in six months we will have accomplished much.”

“I think part of the reason we’re not successful now is we are not funded,” Commissioner Catherine Malcolm Brickman said. “In the interim we have to look at other ways of fundraising.” 

She suggested that the Commission could work with the Malibu Chamber of Commerce to develop a “round up” campaign for the arts. Customers at participating stores would be invited to round up their sale to the nearest dollar with the difference going to the fund. 

“It wouldn’t be hundreds of thousands, we couldn’t build a performing arts center, but round ups are the most effective campaigns, and we could start developing a kitty to get projects off the ground, over the hump,” Brickman said. 

“We don’t have funding, we have a city that has funds,” Gibbs said. “We can go to our own city to say ‘Hey, we need a thousand dollars.’ If we had a fundraiser, we still have to go through the City. It’s a whole other layer.”

Some of the frustrations expressed by the Commission included delays over a plan to install an exhibit of surfboards at City Hall and problems getting the proposed salon series off the ground.

Crittenden explained that any art exhibit at City Hall will require adequate security. She presented a variety of suggestions that included glass display cases ($22,000-$25,000), security guards ($9,500 per month), and security cameras ($10,840-$12,875). 

The Commission voted to recommend security cameras and monitoring as the most cost-effective and least intrusive security measure. 

The Commission also made decisions about the salon series at the meeting.

“The salon series stalled with the issue of insurance,” said Gibbs, who is on the salon ad hoc committee. 

Crittenden explained that because the proposed events would take place on private property at the participating artists’ homes or studios, extra insurance was essential and the City had a choice of two options: using the municipality’s current insurance company or choosing a third-party carrier. 

Crittenden added that the projected costs for hosting an event could reach $1,900, including insurance and staffing, and that insurance costs could be avoided if the City chooses to extend its current policy to the host, but that a claim could cause the City’s overall insurance cost to increase.

 “I worked very closely with the assistant city attorney,” Crittenden said. “It’s time consuming on his end and my end, because we have to go over each thing, but it can be done.”

The Commissioners suggested 12 salon events per year and recommended that the City pursue a third-party carrier.

“We will get three quotes, and that will be included in the recommendation, but recommendations are always open,” Crittenden said.

Commission Chairwoman Suzanne Zimmer, who is on the website ad hoc committee, gave an update on the site’s progress.

“We asked [the Malibu City Council] for $8,000 to start the website,” she said. “They were excited about it. I mentioned among other things that we would have a calendar separate from the City calendar. City staff would be maintaining that.” 

Zimmer said the design will be “modern and clean.  

If the City Council approves the security measures, the surfboard exhibit could go up later this summer. The Commission appointed an ad hoc committee to develop the selection criteria. Former Malibu Mayor and longtime surfer Jefferson Wagner will curate the show. 

The website is expected to go live as early as July, but the salon series will take longer to finalize. The current plans call for each event to be restricted to 25 participants. A selection method is currently being developed.