Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore Co-Founder
When Tia Chucha’s opened its doors in 2001, we did so despite resource constraints and fiscal limitations. Arts funding in California, as in most states, have suffered substantial cuts since that time. In the fall of 2008, when the stock market crashed and the current financial crisis caused the worst recession in the U.S. since the Great Depression, Tia Chucha’s, like most arts-providing organizations, faced even harder times.
Yet, we never gave up. Tia Chucha’s recognized what many funding sources had forgotten: the arts save lives. The arts transform individuals, families and communities. The arts are known to revitalize ailing economies—and to deepen the spiritual and cultural life of everyone.
We are immensely grateful to those agencies and foundations who have supported our one-of-a-kind cultural, performance and bookstore space. These generous entities are lifesavers.
Recently, however, I attended an LA City-sponsored meeting regarding a consolidated plan for the city that was quite disturbing. It was announced that many federal funds for services have been cut in half and the city is now forced to de-fund or reduce funding for key services.
What services am I talking about? Proposed cuts in Fiscal Year 2015/2016 to Aging Services Delivery Systems from $1,358,516 to $0; AIDS Prevention from $1,041,941 to $0; Youth Nutrition and Recreation from $973,477 to $0; Gang Reduction Youth Development System/Summer Night Lights Program from $1,749,760 to 0; LA’s Best After School Programs from $500,880 to 0; Summer Youth Employment Program from $200,000 to $0; Community Beautification Program from to $150,000 to $0; Clean Streets, Clean Neighborhoods from $85,000 to $0… I can go on and on. You get the picture.
Tia Chucha’s Son Jarocho Students with Instructor Mapache
It is wrong to cut these services. These services help our elderly, our poor, our children, our youth. They keep kids from joining gangs and getting caught up in the drug trade or violence. L.A. city’s overall homicides have declined since the extremely violent 1980 to 2000 period when some 15,000 young people were killed. Most of this decline in homicides was due to youth development, including gang prevention/intervention programs.
At the same time, money for law enforcement in the city is now about $1 billion. Prisons in California take in some $8 billion a year even though they have been under federal court oversight and a proven failure. When we don’t do what’s needed on the front end—with schools, the arts, youth services, training, and treatment—we are forced to contend with the back end: prisons, hospitals and funeral parlors.
I know one thing—the money for needed resources exists. California is the richest state in the union and the eighth largest economy in the world. Yet the state also has the worst poverty rate in the country: close to 24 percent. This is unacceptable. Now our communities need to get educated and properly oriented to organize strategically and insist that our government helps those who are bearing the brunt of a failing economy.
This is one man’s opinion, but I also know it’s one that resonates more and more with people who are beginning to wake up to the unequal nature of the economic, political and social realities of our time. It’s time for a new vision, new ideas, a new imagination. It’s time to realign resources and social wealth to human needs.
For thirteen years Tia Chucha’s has provided needed transformative arts, culture and literacy resources for the North East San Fernando Valley communities. Come celebrate this success with us on March 22 for Tia Chucha’s 13th Anniversary!