Audit of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs’ 1% for Art Programs

The Controller’s Office has completed an audit of the 1% for Art Programs, managed by the Department of Cultural Affairs (Department). Since 1988, the 1% for Art Programs has been the catalyst for more than 1,000 murals, sculptures, monuments, memorials, fountains or other artist creations for the public to experience. As part of the audit, we examined the Department’s processes to determine whether all 1% for Art fees applicable to both public and private developments are used in a timely manner to benefit the City’s cultural landscape. These funds provide art throughout the City – making Los Angeles a more culturally enriching City. One of the important ways the City has sought to assert itself as the nation’s creative capital is through the 1% for Art Program, which requires most commercial developments to set aside 1% for public art.

We initiated this audit because we found that the fund used to account for fees collected from developers rapidly increased, and we wanted to ensure that fees were spent on appropriate arts projects and activities. We found that the department has not developed spending plans for approximately $7.5 million of the $10 million in fees that have accumulated over the last seven years, thereby depriving the City of essential cultural enrichment. We also found that the Department needs to improve its management of the Developer-Led and Public Works’ 1% for Art Programs to make art more accessible throughout the City.