The County Arts Commission’s proposal to cut the $15,000 that Summer Solstice gets from City Hall will get a second look, due to the intervention of Santa Barbara City Councilmembers Iya Falcone and Roger Horton.
The Solstice Committee had been receiving this funding from City Hall for the past 25 years to cover the costs of running artists’ workshops during the two months preceding each year’s Solstice celebration. The funding includes a stipend for artists and covers the cost of materials. This year, the County Arts Commission voted to give Solstice nothing, making it the only organization out of 26 grant applicants to walk away empty-handed.
Falcone lead the charge to have the Arts Commission revisit its decision, arguing that the artist works shops involve many at-risk kids, teaching art, carpentry, and performance skills-as well as offering new social opportunities–to teens who might otherwise being tempted by the lure of gang life. Councilmember Helene Schneider voted to support the cut anyway, arguing it would be unfair to the other 25 grant recipients who’ve already been notified of their grant award. The only way Solstice can get any money this year is if the others receive less.
Schneider and Falcone have both marched in Solstice Parades in recent years; both are considered likely mayoral rivals next year when Mayor Marty Blum’s term expires, and the tension in the room between the two was palpable. Schneider had volunteered to help raise money on her own time to make up this year’s funding shortfall for Solstice. The Solstice receives $45,000 a year from City Hall through a separate funding vehicle to help defray the administrative costs of hosting the city’s single biggest annual parade. The Arts Commission rejected the Solstice grant for the two-month artist workshops because the language in the Solstice application didn’t sufficiently distinguish the workshop from the parade, raising the specter of double dipping in the minds of some council members.