By Aaron Blevins, 10/11/2012
Miracle Mile Art Walk in the midst of dispute
Although the Miracle Mile Art Walk was held over the weekend without issue, an ownership dispute has arisen from the annual event, which strives to celebrate art and promote local businesses.
Mid-City West Community Council chairman Tim Deegan said the council has run the art walk for the last several years, after the Miracle Mile Residential Association opted to transfer its ownership.
“The event is always put on by the community council, except for this year,” he said.
Deegan said the event last weekend was held under Mid-City West’s name, but without the council’s knowledge. This year’s event was run by the Piercy Charitable Foundation and the council’s former arts chair, Shawni Dracoules, who declined to comment for this story. Deegan said people have alleged that the council voted to end its involvement with the event, which he denied.
“It’s categorically untrue,” he added.
He said Dracoules left the council in the spring, and that the council had not formed a new arts committee, which has managed the Miracle Mile Art Walk in the past, until recently. David Mann will be the new arts chairman, but the committee has yet to meet, Deegan said.
“In that hiatus, a third party took the program and called it their own. …That’s what the entire question’s about. It’s confusing,” he said.
Deegan added that the council had supported the event with city funds for years, though it is free for patrons and businesses, and does not raise money for the organization. He said it seems to be an important event for the community.
“Somebody should continue to operate it,” Deegan said.
The council discussed the issue during a special meeting on Wednesday, after deadline for today’s Park Labrea News and Beverly Press. Deegan said the board will likely decide if the council should continue to run it, allow a third party to run it, close it down or find other partnerships at that meeting.
“That’s up to the board,” he added.
Sheryl Turner, president of the Piercy Charitable Foundation, is also a member of Mid-City West. She and Dracoules assumed Piercy Charitable Foundation was now in charge of the art walk, and said that neither she nor Dracoules was informed of any dispute until recently.
“However, I can say it was extensively publicized throughout the Miracle Mile art galleries and studios, there were thirty-eight sponsors who contributed in-kind donations and grants for this event, many famous artists who supported it, the blogspot received thousands of hits and a magazine was produced and distributed,” Turner said, adding that the foundation hopes to continue managing the project with as many partners and supporters as possible.
Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, gave $10,000 of his cultural funds, which are used to promote cultural events in his district, to the art walk. He said he supports the arts and the Miracle Mile, while downplaying the dispute.
“I’m told it was a great event, and that’s all that matters. …Let’s clarify and move on,” LaBonge said.
He said the two sides, as well as the city attorney, are “artistically” working to rectify the dispute. LaBonge said the city attorney’s office is involved because someone called the office to alert them about the issue. He didn’t specify who, but said it’s common for people to request assistance from the city attorney or his office when disputes occur.
“In this case, it was the city attorney’s office,” LaBonge added.
The dispute didn’t appear to have any effect on the art walk over the weekend. Rachel Joelson, the co-director of Lab Art Gallery, didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary and said the event was “great.”
She said the event has an honorable goal overall, in that it strives to promote art galleries in the local community. However, with such a large area represented, organizers could offer other methods of involvement — or modes of transportation — to participants, she said.
“That might make it more conducive to more people getting involved,” Joelson said.