You are on page 1of 1

CITY

OF

QUA RTZ

partially recompensed by reduced landleases or advantageous density transfers. Moreover, the boom in public art and cultural monumentality has gone hand-in-hand with a culture depression in most of the inner city. As Linda Frye Burnham points out, the gleaming new museums and trendy Downtown loft district are a ‘Potemkin Village, so many façades hiding the fact that L.A. artists are in a desperate state, fighting over scraps, without career opportunities, funds or housing’.149 Since the late 1970s, school board financing for music and arts instruction has plummeted, key community arts workshops have closed, local jazz venues have folded one after another, Black dance has been shut out in the cold, community theater has withered, Black and Chicano filmmakers have lost much of their foundation support, and the world-famous East L.A. mural movement has almost disappeared. Such vital generators of community self-definition as the Watts Towers Arts Center, the Inner City Cultural Center, and the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts have had to make drastic cutbacks to survive the ‘age of arts affluence’.150 The inner city, in other words, has been culturally hollowed out in lockstep with the pyramiding of public and private arts capital in Westwood and Bunker Hill. As a result Black and Chicano cultural avant gardes have either been decimated or forced to retreat from their community constituencies to the cooptative shelter of the universities and corporate arts establishment.1 5 1 The current Culture boom, and its attendant celebrity-intellectual influx, therefore, must be seen as an epiphenomenon of the larger social polarization that has revitalized Downtown and enriched the Westside at the expense of vast debilitated tracts of the inner city. Although Los Angeles now boasts of competing with New York’s culture worlds, it has none of the latter’s vast arts and literary patrimony, derived from successive radical bohemias and avant gardes. Even the expected ‘trickle-down’ from corporate culture largely fails to reach, or nurture, street culture in Los Angeles. As a result of a deliberate ‘deregionalization’ of cultural investment - symbolized by the 1979 decision to change the name of the future Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art to the Museum of Contemporary Art (‘signifying that it would present art from an international rather than regional perspective’)152 - the arts fund is either spent on imported culture (especially from New York) or used to entice

78