is a time to be outdoors and to experience the wonders of
new things, including the diversity of others. Summer festivals
bring education, socialization and family enjoyment. Even
in momentary economic recessions, festivals bring a much
needed relief where families can affordably entertain themselves.
cities are known for their culture fests. Los
Angeles has several culture festivals of note, but none
more significant than the African Marketplace. It’s a festival
that has promoted African culture and African commerce to
the city, the region and the world for the past 25 years.
A festival that draws tens of thousands of people for four
consecutive weekends to allow vendors to sell their wares,
and its attendees to hear music, taste food, buy clothing,
jewelry and artifacts from throughout the African Diaspora
on the continent and in the Caribbean.
brings millions of dollars into the local economy, taxes
and fees into the city budget and offers a diversion away
from the violence, the unemployment and the hardships we
are facing in the city of Los
Angeles today. Yet, the City of Los
Angeles is in economic crisis. There have been budget cuts
across the board, and the elimination of many of the city’s
non-essential services. It is understood that we all must
tighten our belts. The African Marketplace has struggle
the past few years, and has reduced the festival from four
to two weekends. This year’s festival is scheduled for August
28, 29 and September 4, 5, 6, 2010. Now it has a huge barrier
to overcome. The
City of Los Angeles is trying to charge the festival over
$180,000 to hold the African Marketplace for two weeks,
in a public park. Now we know the City is having a hard
time…but $180,000??? For what?
money is not just to run government. It is not just to pay
for services, as crucial as services are. Some parts of
the city budget do go for constituent enrichment. In this
instance, monies for cultural affairs are considered “non-essential”
to the operation of the city. Those services have been the
first to go. The African Marketplace has found a way to
exist with the reduction or elimination of city funds. All
they need is the space. Space that wouldn’t be otherwise
used to the extent it would be by the festival. Most of
our public spaces throughout the City are underutilized.
But when we finally do want to use the parks for something
of cultural benefit, the city bureaucrats want to overcharge
people. It doesn’t cost $180,000 for city Recreation and
Parks personal to staff the park for five days. It doesn’t
cost $180,000 to put up section barriers.
does it cost $180,000 to do? Fill some department’s budget
shortfall? The politics of the “ask” for the African Marketplace
stinks from the very notion that the City would try to profiteer
on the backs of the people. For the people of the community
to have to be denied the use of a public park because the
city wants to overcharge festival organizers (who also work
for the city) is bogus. It would be different if the festival
was costing the city $180,000. If the money’s not there,
the money’s not there. But if the money’s not there, the
actual cost to the city is affordable for the festival,
and the organizers come up with the money, it is not right,
nor proper, for the city to then make the festival unfeasible.
Its wants to charge so much that it makes the proposition
shouldn’t let the City of Los
Angeles kill the African African Marketplace. $20,000? $40,000?
Maybe even $60,000 for two weekends. That could be seen
as reasonable. $180,000? That’s not even reasonable, much
less affordable. As a community, we can’t act like we don’t
see what’s up here.
the Mayor, members of the City Council and the City Comptroller
(who wants to be the next Mayor), and tell them our community
WANTS the African Marketplace this year and we want a significant
fee reduction. Tell the Mayor to buy a ticket (since we
can’t give him one - but since he’ll probably bring proclamations).
We know they’re watching him on the free ticket thing. But
he needs to understand what this means to our community.
needs (and we need) to help save the African Marketplace
in Los Angeles.
This is a cultural festival that helps us understand what
Africa and African tradition means
to our community and helps others understand our traditions.
If the African Marketplace didn’t raise the money to put
on the festival, that’s one thing. To be gouged by the city
is something altogether different. And we’re helping to
cannot let the City be the one to kill our cultural festival.
Not now, not ever.
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, PhD is a national columnist
and author of Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website is AnthonySamad.com. Click here
to contact Dr. Samad.