Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Five Years After Measure P Passage: No Funds Spent on Cultural Arts, but Lots of Drama
gvw_edward_smith
By Edward Smith
Published 1 year ago on
May 25, 2023

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

As nearly $90 million sits in Measure P coffers unspent, Fresno arts leaders have been awaiting a Cultural Arts Plan to begin investing badly needed funding for the arts.

But now that the plan has been published, arts leaders say it is vague as to how any money will be spent. And, they fear the creation of a new division with the city of Fresno will supplant their role in overseeing the delivery of arts funding.

On May 15, the Parks, After School, Recreation and Community Service Department released its Cultural Arts Plan for public comment on how to prioritize the money awaiting a destination.

Passed in 2018, Measure P added a three-eighth cent sales tax to transactions in Fresno County to go to parks and the arts. Language in the tax designated 12% of the tax to “expanding access” to cultural arts. But before any money could be spent, a Cultural Arts Plan had to be published, said Stephen Wilson, president and CEO of Fresno Philharmonic.

City leadership denies that it has plans to downgrade the role of the Fresno Arts Council, a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 1979, in funding decisions.

But now, the Arts Council wants control over the creation and submission of the plan that would guide Measure P spending.

Watch: What Mayor Jerry Dyer Said About Measure P & Cultural Arts Last September

Plan Muddles City Money and Measure P Money, Arts Council Says

The first recommendation made in the plan is to invest in the maintenance of existing arts and cultural assets in Fresno, including both city-owned and non-city-owned assets.

Wilson said paying for city-owned assets falls out of the purview of Measure P.

“I don’t think Measure P was passed to absolve the city of its preexisting obligations in terms of deferred maintenance,” Wilson said.

In another recommendation, the plan suggests making grant funding available to restore city-owned arts and cultural assets.

Arts Council Sees PARCS as ‘Supplanting’ Their Duties

Members of the Arts Council also accused the PARCS department of trying to take over their job with its recommended creation of a city arts division. The plan calls for this division:

  • to liaison between the different arts organizations;
  • track data to ensure funds are furthering the goals of Measure P;
  • and update the cultural arts plan.

However, these duties were delegated to the Arts Commission by Measure P.

“What’s troubling for us in the arts community is the idea of the city taking this on where it hasn’t developed that expertise or experience,” Wilson said.

Fresno City Manager Georgeanne White said she has taken the job of responding to the letter, as opposed to PARCS director Aaron Aguirre. She said she “unequivocally rejects” the idea the PARCS department would supplant the Arts Council.

White said city administration disagreed with many of the recommendations made in the plan. But being funded with public money, White didn’t want to be viewed as censoring any part of the plan, so it was published in its entirety.

And, the public comment period gives the Arts Council its chance to dispute any parts of the plan, which will go to the Fresno City Council for adoption, White said.

White said in an email City administration would be opposed to turning over the process to the Fresno Arts Council. The Council was paid $7,000 to run the selection process for the consultant. The commission was given regular updates on the process, White said.

But members of the Arts Council say the update on the plan were limited.

“These were not meetings of robust exchange and dialogue but point in time reports of what had been done and one initial and very short visioning session,” said Lilia Gonzalez Chavez, executive director of the Fresno Arts Council.

Fresno Arts Council Scores Coup with Control Over Grant Program

At Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting, councilmembers gave the Arts Council control in developing the grant program, Gonzalez Chavez said.

City staff were directed to have the language of the agreement finished by the June 22 City Council meeting.

The Arts Council will then be able to create the rules for the nonprofits seeking funding from Measure P, Gonzalez Chavez said. The Cultural Arts Plan guides the grant program, which is why it is so important to have it finished quickly. With the plan expected to be finalized in August, Gonzalez Chavez hopes to have the grants plan ready for implementation.

Time is of the Essence: Wilson

Back in October, the Arts Council was originally told the plan would go before City Council this month.

Members of the Arts Council got their first view of the plan in March.

White said additional time was given to Arts Council members after they had requested more time to review the document.

But a responses to the plan were given March 6, three days after they received it, said Gonzalez Chavez.

Getting money out to local nonprofits in the arts world is the priority for the Arts Council, said Wilson, noting that many groups are still reeling from the pandemic.

Attendance for the performing arts is still not back to pre-pandemic levels, Wilson said. Meanwhile, they are still incurring expenses from the pandemic.

“The city of Fresno passed Measure P back in 2018 to get expanded access to arts and culture and that money needs to be flowing to achieve those objectives,” Wilson said.

 

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Warning: Pay Special Attention to California’s November Ballot Measures

DON'T MISS

Israeli War Cabinet Minister Proposes to Dissolve Parliament

DON'T MISS

Beatles, Stones, or Queen? Tribute Bands and Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade Top the Weekend

DON'T MISS

Power Outages Could Linger for Days After Storms Batter Texas Again, Leaving 1 Dead

DON'T MISS

49ers Sign WR Jauan Jennings to Extension Through 2025 Season

DON'T MISS

The US-Built Pier in Gaza Broke Apart. Here’s How We Got Here and What Might Be Next

DON'T MISS

Massachusetts Fugitive ‘Bad Breath Rapist’ Captured in California After 16 Years

DON'T MISS

Police Dismantle Pro-Palestinian Camp at Wayne State University in Detroit

DON'T MISS

Fong Gone to Washington. What Happens to Vacant Assembly Seat?

DON'T MISS

Honored Nurse Fired After Calling Gaza Conflict ‘Genocide’

UP NEXT

Israeli War Cabinet Minister Proposes to Dissolve Parliament

UP NEXT

Beatles, Stones, or Queen? Tribute Bands and Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade Top the Weekend

UP NEXT

Power Outages Could Linger for Days After Storms Batter Texas Again, Leaving 1 Dead

UP NEXT

49ers Sign WR Jauan Jennings to Extension Through 2025 Season

UP NEXT

The US-Built Pier in Gaza Broke Apart. Here’s How We Got Here and What Might Be Next

UP NEXT

Massachusetts Fugitive ‘Bad Breath Rapist’ Captured in California After 16 Years

UP NEXT

Police Dismantle Pro-Palestinian Camp at Wayne State University in Detroit

UP NEXT

Fong Gone to Washington. What Happens to Vacant Assembly Seat?

UP NEXT

Nearly 200 Shuttered 99 Cents Only Stores to Open as Dollar Tree Locations from Texas to California

UP NEXT

Amazon Gets FAA Approval That Allows It to Expand Drone Deliveries for Online Orders

Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

Power Outages Could Linger for Days After Storms Batter Texas Again, Leaving 1 Dead

2 hours ago

49ers Sign WR Jauan Jennings to Extension Through 2025 Season

2 hours ago

The US-Built Pier in Gaza Broke Apart. Here’s How We Got Here and What Might Be Next

2 hours ago

Massachusetts Fugitive ‘Bad Breath Rapist’ Captured in California After 16 Years

2 hours ago

Police Dismantle Pro-Palestinian Camp at Wayne State University in Detroit

2 hours ago

Fong Gone to Washington. What Happens to Vacant Assembly Seat?

2 hours ago

Honored Nurse Fired After Calling Gaza Conflict ‘Genocide’

2 hours ago

Nearly 200 Shuttered 99 Cents Only Stores to Open as Dollar Tree Locations from Texas to California

2 hours ago

Amazon Gets FAA Approval That Allows It to Expand Drone Deliveries for Online Orders

3 hours ago

Polls: Biden Is the Least Popular President in 75 Years

3 hours ago

Warning: Pay Special Attention to California’s November Ballot Measures

California politics being what they are – deeply blue domination by Democrats – means that many of the races on the November ballot are alre...

14 mins ago

14 mins ago

Warning: Pay Special Attention to California’s November Ballot Measures

Photo of Benjamin Netanyahu
23 mins ago

Israeli War Cabinet Minister Proposes to Dissolve Parliament

41 mins ago

Beatles, Stones, or Queen? Tribute Bands and Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade Top the Weekend

2 hours ago

Power Outages Could Linger for Days After Storms Batter Texas Again, Leaving 1 Dead

2 hours ago

49ers Sign WR Jauan Jennings to Extension Through 2025 Season

2 hours ago

The US-Built Pier in Gaza Broke Apart. Here’s How We Got Here and What Might Be Next

2 hours ago

Massachusetts Fugitive ‘Bad Breath Rapist’ Captured in California After 16 Years

2 hours ago

Police Dismantle Pro-Palestinian Camp at Wayne State University in Detroit

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend