A report issued by a task force on the arts and humanities of Mayorelect Marion Barry's transition team urges the establishment of an Office of Cultural Affairs to absorb many of the duties of the existing city arts agency.
The present D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities receives biting criticism in the report. Although the commission fulfilled its function of receiving money from the Naional Endowment for the Arts and funneling it to arts organizations and individuals, the report concludes that "the organization lacked a coherent overview of the full charge of its responsibilities."
The task force, chaired by John Kinard, director of the Anacostia Neighborhoood Museum, and Patrick Hayes, president of the Washington Performing Arts Society, was the second largest of the Barry transition team committees. Its 132 volunteers interviewed a broad spectrum of people involved in the arts over the last five weeks.
Barry, who received the support of many of the city's leading artists in his campaign, is expected to be sensitive to many of the task force's recommendations. In a campaign position paper on the arts, Barry promised the establishment of a city museum of history and culture, exhibits of local artists' work in his office, the establishment of neighborhood art centers and an interdepartmental committee on visual and performing arts to promote employment of artists.
In addition to the present arts agency, the task force investigated: financial support and sources for the arts; affirmative action policies in the arts; the schools; arts programs; the media, and tourism.
Generally, the report recommends more funds for municipal agencies and for individuals and independent arts groups. In the past, the D.C. government has not matched the money given to it by the National Endowment. The report urges the new administration quickly to match funds already allocated by the Endowment for fiscal '79 and '80.
"Washington enjoys a rich inventory of private arts organizations, large and small. Yet the city's commitment of funds for their support is only the 16th highest in the nation," according to the report. It urges the city to spend "in the range of $10 million" in 1980; and suggests that by 1982, arts and humanities should comprise 2 percent of the city's budget.
The task force also recommends the creation of an art bank to achieve both profit and exposure for local artists, by purchasing art works and displaying them in public and private buildings.
It also calls for stronger school arts curricula, with special attention to the Ellington School for the Arts and pending projects for new institutions, such as the Naional Capital Children's Museum, a city museum, a jazz museum, and a home for the historic Barnett-Aden Collection of black art.
In evaluating tourism, the report calls the past year's 14 million tourists "the District's second largest industry." The report recommends that tourism and tourist-related industries be coordinated through an office of tourism within the proposed Office of Cultural Affairs.
The report considers the motion picture and television industries as potential financial resources. In suggesting a city office for film, following the outlines of a bill introduced last February by Barry, the report says that "an active film industry in the city would bring millions to local businesses, provide employment for local performing artists, stimulate tourism, and would be of considerable public relations value."