Sacramentans kind of suck at supporting the local arts

Dozens of multicolor acrylic balls with LED lights inside brighten and burst, then dim, then explode again. They dangle from the ceiling inside a space no larger than a bedroom. Mirrored panels cover the walls. The effect is endless luminosity, not unlike a futuristic cityscape stretching for miles. It's at once humbling and inspiring—and, these days, it's the most popular art exhibit in Los Angeles.

Titled Infinity Mirrored Room, the wait to stand by yourself inside artist Yayoi Kusama's exhibit for just 45 seconds is hours. If you can even get tickets to the newly opened Broad museum in downtown Los Angeles. It's the proverbial hottest show in a town that craves the latest thing. And it's art—not a sports game.

I get that Sacramento isn't L.A., and I also get that Sacramento doesn't have One Percenter philanthropists like Eli and Edythe Broad, billionaires who can dump millions into a first-rate contemporary art museum.

Still, Sacramentans rich and poor kind of suck at supporting local arts.

This past week, the mayor announced he was giving up on his effort to build a new downtown performing arts center. Disappointing. It's not his fault the project couldn't get off the ground.

But … we're lined up to spend some $400 million in public monies, assets and infrastructure on a new basketball arena and soccer stadium. The Kings investment alone prompted the city treasurer to say we shouldn't borrow any more money for other projects. So, no large arts investments.

Yes, the private sector makes some great contributions to the arts. Think the WAL building or the new Crocker. But it's not enough. We need to light the region's art scene anew.