Flora Maria Garcia 

New Metro Atlanta Arts and Culture Coaltion head

Page 3 of 3

I can tell you what I did in Fort Worth: My recommendation was 2 percent not 1 percent. Because since the beginning of the public arts programs, long ago it started as 1 percent and it wasn't enough money to do education, outreach, conservation and staff. Let's do it right and learn from all the cities that have had ordinances for 15, 20 years. Let's learn from their mistakes and then do the best ordinance possible. We did kind of a Frankenstein ordinance from all of the ordinances from other cities.

I think a lot of it is about the relationship you have with the city and the budget office and the commitment of the city, or county. And the ordinance says by law you have to set aside 2 percent so it's also about awareness within each city department. And we have a work plan that lays out all the projects that are coming on board, what the total budget is and what the 2 percent calculation is, and we work hand in hand with the budget office of the city. So we have not had a problem.

So there's no ambiguity? Absolutely not. We have a project budget that's approved in the bond issue: $10 million. Public art gets 2 percent of $10 million. Easy cheesy, right?

Hopefully you can bring that clarity to Atlanta.

Can you see a tax for the arts happening in Atlanta? Absolutely, positively yes. It must happen in Atlanta. Because Atlanta has incredible potential. It has so many arts organizations here and it must have a dedicated, significant source of funding to support the arts and artists in perpetuity.

Is Atlanta behind in terms of what we're giving to the arts? Behind.

Do you have any sense of why that is? Is it something to do with the South? Absolutely nothing to do with the South, Look at Charlotte.

What happened in Charlotte is the business leaders got together many years ago and said, "We want to make Charlotte the second-largest banking city in the country and we need to get culture up to a level where it's going to attract business." And they invested in culture as the vehicle to make Charlotte a great city, very successful. So this ain't no Southern thing! It's about the will and the knowledge to recognize that your cultural community could really put a city on the map. And you have to invest in that. Culture is the soul of a city.

And I think Atlanta has the will to do that.


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