Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Great Appointment, However....

Good morning
"And the beat goes on........................"

Jerry Brown Appoints Rosalind Wyman to the California Arts Council:
Growing up in L.A. in the fifties and sixties, Rosalind Wyman was a major fixture in local politics.  The youngest person ever elected to the L.A. City Council.  Fiery, and a bit of the maverick she, along with JFK, are the two figures that turned me onto to politics.  I was a big fan.

Governor Brown recently appointed her to the CAC and by any account she is an excellent appointment.  She remained (and doubtless still remains) active in Democratic politics.  She is savvy, experienced and knows how to get things done.  Moreover, she has for some time been involved in the arts - from the NEA to the Los Angeles Arts Commission to the Los Angeles Music Center.  Now an octogenarian, my guess is that she hasn't slowed down a bit.  I would think she will provide seasoned leadership to the efforts to someday restore public funding for the arts in California.

I confess to being a fan of Jerry Brown's - from his first stint as Governor to his Presidential bid.  I like him, voted for him, campaigned for him, supported him.  I think he's done an outstanding job as Governor this time around facing almost insurmountable challenges of putting California back in the forefront of the states.  He created the CAC during his initial gubernatorial term, and I honestly believe that if he can move the state's economy back to even close to what it was under Gray Davis that he will find a way to restore meaningful public support to the arts.  So I congratulate him for appointing Rosalind Wyman and to her on the appointment.

However - and there's always a however.

For all intents and purposes, the California Arts Council is really the Los Angeles Arts Council.  There are no representatives from San Diego or the Inland Empire, none from the central valley nor the far north.  No one from San Jose, San Francisco or Sacramento.  And only one from outside the greater Los Angeles area.

Moreover, in what is arguably the most diverse place on the planet - with virtually every culture on earth amply represented within its borders, California is the very definition of diversity.  Yet there are no Asian / Pacific Islanders, no Latinos, no one under the age of 30 on the arts council.  There may be someone from the LGBT community (I have no way of knowing), but certainly no public leader of that group.  Of the eleven authorized seats, Rosalind Wyman's appointment fills the tenth seat.  One remains.

Meaning no disrespect to those who sit on the council (all of whom I believe take their charge seriously and seek to do whatever they can to support the arts in California) it is, nonetheless unfortunate and somewhat embarrassing that the council isn't more representative of the state's geography and diversity.  We need the perspective and ideas of a more widely reflective sampling of who we are.  One would hope it might again be more reflective of California's sub-populations in the future.

Still, Rosalind Wyman is, all things considered, an excellent and valuable appointment.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit.