Fresno’s arts community has good reasons for distrusting city’s leaders | Opinion

Marek Warszawski’s observations are correct. It is true: “Fresno’s arts community is suspicious of City Hall.”

And, my own experience of patiently dealing with the City Hall representatives for over a decade regarding preserving and converting historic homes in downtown Fresno to cultural art centers validates City Manager Georgeanne White’s admission that the local arts community doesn’t have much trust in the process.

A news article in the May 9 issue of reads: “Glendale, CA Takes Proactive Role in Encouraging New Business Growth.” The report highlights that the Glendale has committed to providing resources and tools to ensure the success of small businesses enhancing the city’s arts and entertainment district while fostering local entrepreneurs.

The arts and cultural sectors are one of the core attractions of travelers worldwide. Fresno has yet to allocate Measure P funds to the arts and cultural organizations for the intended purposes.

Thanks to the efforts of the arts and cultural community led by the Fresno Arts Council, voters approved the Cultural Arts Plan as part of Measure P. The Fresno Metropolitan Museum’s unfortunate end and the City Hall’s interest in art and culture are part of city history.

During a regular monthly meeting on March 27, a representative of PARCS reported to the commission with pride that during the past three years, with resources generated by Measure P funds, improvements have been accomplished at various parks within the city. It was disturbing to hear from the same representative that as of March 27, no plans were in place for allocating the 12% designated for the Cultural Arts Plan.

Fresno already has a system in place through which the Fresno Arts Council could help distribute the cultural arts portion of Measure P funds to local organizations.

The city must have an oversight role in allocating funds, and rightly so. But City Hall’s track record certainly does not give the Fresno arts community the confidence that a City Hall staffer could efficiently manage art and cultural programs.

Varoujan Der Simonian is the director of the Armenian Museum of Fresno.

Varoujan Der Simonian
Varoujan Der Simonian