[KHTS] – Santa Clarita City Council members moved to table the decision on three art pieces Tuesday during their meeting at City Hall over concerns about the Arts Commission’s choices.
City officials were slated to move on three decisions related to about $45,000 in art pieces that the Santa Clarita Arts Commission approved, however two City Council members questioned whether the commission was creating a deliberate and cohesive arts culture in Santa Clarita.
Council members repeatedly said they were not assailing the decisions of the commission, but questioning whether the city’s leadership was giving adequate tools and guidance in their effort to reflect Santa Clarita’s “rich heritage” with their art choices.
To that end, Susan Shapiro, chair of the Arts Commission, suggested to Mayor Bob Kellar that a “master plan” for the arts might be useful in guiding the relatively new commission.
The “IMAG_NE” art piece slated for the Valencia Library is off the table – at least for now.
One of the concerns mentioned by City Councilwoman Marsha McLean, alluding to the “Imag_ne” piece, was that, if approved, it would not be unique to Santa Clarita.
“We are not like other cities,” McLean said. “We are Santa Clarita. Everything we have to do, has to be that much more special. We have a culture and we have a heritage that is very special here.”
City Councilwoman Laurene Weste registered similar concern, noting, “There’s no real long-term look,” and we have an extensive history — it’s a very unique valley.”
When you look at the arts in some of the great cities of the world, there’s an identification and more of a consistency that didn’t exist in the three choices presented to City Council members for approval.
“I would love to have our Arts Commission get the tools they need (to make this happen),” Weste said.
City Councilman TimBen Boydston, who also runs the Canyon Theatre Guild, disagreed, saying that City Council members need to let the members of the Arts Commission do what they tasked to do.
He felt as though too much interference could “tamp down” those that might want to participate in future arts decisions, stifling creativity and taking the arts decisions from the hands of those most qualified to make these choices.
The Arts Commission’s final two choices regarding the last public project it examined, the centerpiece for the Newhall roundabout, prompted much negative feedback, which Kellar did not seem eager to have happen again.
After the Arts Commission spent several months planning and holding meetings for public feedback on that project, City Council members received so much criticism for the choices they decide to scrap the approved plan and create a survey at the top of the city’s website.
“Nobody is saying, ‘We’re smarter,’” McLean said, responding to Boydston’s remarks. “Nobody is saying we’re trying to tamp people down.”
McLean and Kellar both indicated that perhaps a study session open to the public with appropriate city staff and the Arts Commission present was the way to go.
Boydston and Weste agreed on the move.
“It won’t happen until 2014,” said Gail Oritz, spokeswoman for the city of Santa Clarita. “But staff is working on some research items and working on a meaningful format that would ensue between the city staff and the City Council in a study session format.”
Arts Commission Susan Shapiro said the Arts Commission would welcome the input.
“I think having an arts master plan is a very valuable tool,” Shapiro said. “This is new and it’s a process and I feel like we’ve made progress and I feel like we can also, always do better.”