Artists Not Paid by Villaraigosa’s Summer Night Lights Gang Reduction Program


I was copied on the following email by east-side artists who have been working on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Summer Night Lights project, now in its 2nd year.  A week ago the Mayor visited the Jordan Downs housing Project (pictured above) for a press tour.  Artists have worked diligently to provide what they could with their own resources to children who have no other summer alternative.  I took this picture above and witnessed how crucial art is to inner city youth who are starving to learn and desperately need patient mentorship.  –Victoria Delgadillo

FROM: Community Artist, Apprentices, and Master Artist/SNL 2009

RE: Summer Night Lights (SNL) Contract

DATE: September 2, 2009

To Whom May It Concern,

We the artists of the SNL Gang Reduction Program demand immediate payment for our services.  Many of us turned down other work to be a part of this important effort. The SNL programs success is majorly due to the arts component that is present at all 16 parks.  We all depend on this – this is our work, we have committed ourselves not only to our craft but to our community to provide the services they all deserve. Likewise we deserve to be treated as professionals in our field of expertise.  The Arts community is one of the most effected groups from the current economic downturn and continue to be disregarded by this neglect on the part of the City of Los Angeles.

The experience working hands on with the community has been remarkable. Many of us artist have gone through various lengths and have over exceeded in order to sustain the art, music and dance workshops for Summer Night Lights. For example, asking our colleagues, friends and organizations to donate materials, paying directly from our pockets, swiping our credit cards, borrowed money for equipment and materials. Although we have been partially reimbersed for materials, we have not been paid for our time and professional experience.  There has been a significant amount of preparation, time, planning and effort to make SNL a success. Our efforts have over exceeded our expectations and requirements.lili

The latest press release sent out on August 24th regarding White House Conference on Gang Violence and Crime Control states the following: “U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder praised Mayor’s SUMMER NIGHT LIGHTS program as an innovative approach to reducing gang violence.” This press release illustrates the success of the program however on the other hand we are outraged that we have been left in the shadows; we have been left to fend and find innovative methods to implement and succeed on our own without proper compensation. We have not been paid for our services or materials and equipment.

The contract clearly states that the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Mayors office will provide modest budgets for materials and equipment, we were told by, Michelle Berne, DCA of a budget cut from our original proposal for equipment and materials, soon after we received 25% of our materials budget three weeks into the program. SNL is now in the last week and we have not received not a single payment for our services.

We need answers today, via email, letter and a follow up phone call.

Thank you for your time and effort in bridging our communities thru the arts.




9 thoughts on “Artists Not Paid by Villaraigosa’s Summer Night Lights Gang Reduction Program

  1. Were the artists supposed to be paid for their time, or just provided with a budget for materials?

    As a curator and arts administrator, I know that you have to fairly (preferably generously) pay the people who bust their asses working for you and your projects. As an artist, I’m well aware that the reality is that most of the time people in my profession are treated as if what we do isn’t really work, so we should just bust our asses for free.

  2. Marshall,
    We signed contracts binding the city to pay wages for services rendered. We submitted budgets for materials but had to provide materials up front because the $$ was not available on day one. Eight weeks later, we have only been reimbursed on a fraction of what we purchased to make the workshops happen. 🙁

  3. There’s a right wing tea bag type of movement in LA to end any kind of funding toward gang intervention. Read up on an asshole named Tony Rafael.

  4. (LETTERHEAD) Office of the Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa

    Dear SNL Letterwriters:

    This is news to me. It’s not my fault. It never is.

    I am not quite sure why you are demanding payment as I’m sure NBC compensates you quite well. But then Saturday Night Live hasn’t been funny for years, so maybe this helps explain your plight.

    Nevertheless, rest assured, as Mayor of Los Angeles, my office will do everything possible to understand your complaints and demand. Trust me on this.

    By the way, can you please send me five 8″ x 10″ glossies of my Jordan Downs appearance? I’ll be happy to autograph one for you. Please enclose a postage-paid mailer to this purpose.

    Un abrazote,
    Your Mayor,

  5. That’s so wack! I’d bet in the same time cultural affairs or some other city dept. Has overpayed some rich douchebag hundreds of thousand of dollars for some BS art installation that could have funded the entire program.

  6. Unbelievable disregard for dedicated working artists serving the children one of the most needy and abandoned sectors of our City. Speaking of our City, where is what’s his name? out having his picture taken again? offering us more pharmaceuticals? or just out on another hot date? When he was running for mayor he was wearing community arts on his lapel – more deception.
    But if he wants to be an arts presumido, then the rules call for supporting working artists and sticking to your contractual obligations…leadership, in other words.
    When’s the next damned election, carajo!

    Thanks for posting and let us know how to support!

  7. Plaster this on facebook, myspace, contact all art magazines, newspapers the LA weekly, Pasadena Weekly, Citizen LA All you can find. Also try to find an advocate to help you. I would google these things. So sorry! Oh also in his neighborhood Mt. Washington their are the Mt. Washington Association, Mt. Washington Alliance also Arroyo Seco Association.

    Good Luck and I will re-post when I can.

    kelly thompson

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