In fact, funding for the arts – if done right – can offer a great return. A study by the Center for Economics and Business Research reportedly found that arts and culture make up 0.4 percent of Britain’s GDP but accounted for only 0.1 percent of government spending. What’s more, the cultural sector is becoming a bigger part of the U.K’s economy while the wider economy is contracting.

Bill-de la Peña, the mayor, said the arts accounts for $30 million in economic activity and supports 450 full-time jobs. Not bad for a smaller city with a population of about 130,000.

She said her city had lots of goals and priorities. Among them: keeping the Los Angeles Rams headquartered there, continuing to create a kind of downtown district and making the city a bicycling destination. But it’s really smart for Thousand Oaks to put real emphasis on arts and culture.

• • •

Our country is so divided that we cannot even agree on who the bad guys are. A public figure who may be loathed in Los Angeles could well be toasted in Texas.

Believe it or not, I thought about that after the death of Charles Manson. Why? Because he was the rare guy who was hated by everyone. In a perverse way, Manson brought us together.

All the articles and television documentaries that followed Manson’s death on Nov. 19 reminded me that, back in the late 1960s and early ’70s, we were united as a country. It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor or urban or rural or conservative or liberal, you had an abiding and visceral revulsion for Manson and his murdering Manson Family. Back then, you could go to any party anywhere, from sea to shining sea, and declare right out loud that you hated Manson. Absolutely no one would disagree.

Flash forward to today. Go ahead and try to come up with a name of a bad guy that wouldn’t be controversial in some way, or spark a spirited disagreement at a party. Kim Jong Un, maybe. Regardless, the list is very short.

So finally, in this era in which we cannot agree on who the bad guys are, we can actually agree to this: The worst guy who ever slithered out of the San Fernando Valley was Charles Manson.

Charles Crumpley is editor and publisher of the Business Journal. He can be reached at ccrumpley@sfvbj.com.

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