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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Downey Stay Gallery speaks up

Entrance+of+the+Stay+Gallery+in+Downey+California+with+their+logo.+
Lukas Luna-Arellano
Entrance of the Stay Gallery in Downey California with their logo.

Downey’s Stay Gallery has secured another one to two years of funding after the city previously halted its finances back in March. 

This decision comes after Stay Gallery operators Gabriel Enamorado and Julianna Canty rallied a host of concerned citizens to appear before the city council at a November 14th city council meeting.

Enamorado, the operator of the nonprofit gallery since its opening in 2008, opened the public comment by sharing the storied history his community art gallery shares with the city of Downey and how it has persisted financially across the years. 

“In 2008 the city approached us to establish a public art space as part of the downtown renovation plan […] with the city’s support we funded Stay Gallery,” said Enamorado.

“Compensation for our services [comes from] lease payments from the city’s art in public places fund […] Money in the fund is generated from a 1% fee on commercial development. Not from resident’s tax dollars.” 

This fund lapsed in May, with no official word from the city on what the plans were for the gallery moving forward. 

The Downey City Council initially planned to settle this matter behind closed doors, but this proved to be a fate programs director Juliana Canty would not accept laying down.

“Stay Gallery is a gem that carries a unique story for the Downey Community and serves as a source of pride, culture, and belonging,” said Canty, “We’ve collected over 1,100 signatures in favor of Stay Galleries’ continued funding on our petition and for our operating agreements to be placed on a public vote.” 

Not merely sitting idly and waiting for passersby to wander in, the gallery has enjoyed an active relationship with the community, especially with Downey High School. 

Students in the institution’s art and photography programs often put on exhibits at the gallery, a practice that has recently reached as far as the city’s elementary schools.

This symbiotic relationship with the local school district ensured that some of the loudest voices of the November meeting were teachers. 

Among them was Downey High School photography teacher Michelle Napoli, who could not fathom the idea of a city without the Stay gallery. 

“I believe that it is irreplaceable, that the people who run it now have a true passion for it and have a heart for it,” said Napoli, “we’ve had annual photo exhibits where our students are able to submit their work […] it’s the first time now that they submit their work and have other adults give them critique on their work and I can see the pride in their faces.” 

The large turnout of support for the gallery at the meeting, combined with 1,000 petition signatures saw the city council agree to include Stay’s continued funding on the public agenda for the November 28th City Council meeting. 

After an impassioned public vote, the gallery secured funding for at least another year. 

The victory was celebrated by Stay in an Instagram post. 

Stay Gallery’s next event, a screening of the short film portal will be held on Saturday, December 9th.

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About the Contributor
Lukas Luna-Arellano is the co-community editor for Talon Marks. He plans to shore up his literary credentials while at Cerritos before transferring. He enjoys reading, working out, and listening to various types of metal.
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