Long Beach supports its artists with stipends

%2212+Steps%22+mural+by+artist+Jose+Loza+at+the++%22Intercity+Fellowship+Hall%22.+Located+at+5589+Cherry+Ave+Long+Beach%2C+CA+90805.+Dec.+01%2C+2020+Photo+credit%3A+Eileen+Osuna

Eileen Osuna

“12 Steps” mural by artist Jose Loza at the “Intercity Fellowship Hall”. Located at 5589 Cherry Ave Long Beach, CA 90805. Dec. 01, 2020 Photo credit: Eileen Osuna

Eileen Osuna, Staff Writer

The city of Long Beach will establish an artists fund to provide $500 monthly stipends to 150 artists across the city who have been impacted by COVID-19.

The program, which is intended to provide financial support for basic needs for a period of six months, will be funded by the CARES Act Community Block Grant Funds.

The measure was proposed by Mayor Robert Garcia and approved during the Long Beach City Council meeting held on Nov. 17 with support from Councilwoman Mary Zendejas, First District; Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, Second District; Vice Mayor Dee Andrews, Sixth District; Councilman Al Austin, Eighth District; Councilwoman Suzie Price, Third District; Councilman Daryl Supernaw, Fourth District; Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, Fifth District; Councilman Rex Richardson, Ninth District; and Councilman Roberto Uranga, Seventh District.

Garcia said artists are struggling to find work with special events and live music cancelled and museums and galleries closed since the safer at home order for control of COVID-19 was issued by the city’s Health officer in March.

“We know that the arts have been one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic,” Garcia said of his proposal, “…this new guaranteed income program would help our artists support their basic needs and make it through this difficult period.”

Garcia also said that artists are a crucial part of the city’s economy, bringing color, culture and a vibrant spirit to Long Beach’s urban fabric.

Various forms of art showcasing the rich diversity of Long Beach have been displayed within the community over the last five years including murals on walls, music played at theaters and dance throughout the city.

Since the pandemic began, the city of Long Beach has launched programs to provide support for businesses, nonprofits, landlords, and tenants. However, Garcia believes that it is also important to support artists.

“As a city, our artists and our cultural workers are the lifeblood of our community. They make our city strong, diverse.” he said, “Many of them are already lower income folks who do the work because they love it, not because it’s highly paid and so anything we can do to bridge their ability to stay in our city during this difficult time is really important.”

Garcia acknowledged and thanked all of the arts organizations that have been involved in working on this initiative, such as the Musical Theater West, Long Beach Opera, Long Beach Symphony, Long Beach Playhouse, musicians from the Municipal Band, International City Theater, Long Beach Museum of Art, Museum of Latin American Art and the Arts Council of Long Beach.

In addition, Garcia emphasized that this new artists program is in line with the guaranteed income work that is being done all across the country by the Mayors for Guaranteed Income as well as “An extension of the tenant assistance program that this council already adopted,” he said.

Long Beach City Manager Tom Modica has been tasked with reporting back on the creation of this one-time artists fund program in which the City Council is expected to make a final vote.