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Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture a Model for Civic Arts

Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture a Model for Civic Arts

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From free concerts to arts education, Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture makes creativity accessible

Los Angeles is one of the world’s art meccas, where all creative expressions—from film to theater to visual arts—are celebrated. But, there’s a powerful support system that helps ensure the arts in Southern California are given a stage that’s accessible to everyone. That unparallel support comes from the Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture. For instance, the organization funds nearly 400 arts nonprofits through its $4.5 million grant program and numerous areas of outreach.

Formerly known as the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the organization was created in 1947 to support music performances in the LA area. Subsequently, the mission has expanded to include a variety of art forms, community outreach, and education. In short, the transition to an official LA County department in May of 2018 formally establishes the organization’s critical role as a leader in one of the largest, most culturally diverse counties in the nation.

Realizing the need to make art accessible to citizens of all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, the Department of Arts and Culture adopted the mission of “advancing arts, culture, and creativity throughout LA County.”

Most importantly, department’s work illustrates just how much LA County has made the arts a budget priority.

About inclusion

Each one of their programs is designed with the LA County Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative in mind. In addition, it has the express goal advancing exposure to the arts for all Los Angeles area residents.

Pablo Sune - Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture
Musician Pablo Sune is one of the performers in the line up for Los Angeles County’s summer’s free concert series. [Courtesy of Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture]

“Arts are essential to our humanity, and a key part of healthy, vibrant communities,” Kristin Sakoda, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, said in a recent interview about the organization’s transition to a county department. “Therefore, our work supports the full breadth of the Los Angeles County arts and culture ecosystem. Consequently, as the department dedicated to advancing arts, culture, and creativity throughout the County, we will be able to elevate and expand our work to reach more people, more deeply, in more diverse ways.”

Free concerts

One popular program, dating back to 1947, is the Free Concerts in Public Sites Program. It invites residents to enjoy free live music in public spaces. Hence, a concert series runs from June to October. Concert venues include outdoor amphitheaters, community centers, libraries and museums. They feature LA County artists representing a broad range of genres. Those include Americana, blues, Caribbean, cumbia, mariachi, jazz, klezmer, pop, rock, and R&B.

The Department of Arts and Culture leverages its Arts Education Collective in 80 area school districts. The Collective ensures that the arts are a core part of each student’s education.

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The Civic Art Program helps integrate art (and artists) into LA County public projects. The program has commissioned hundreds of projects for libraries, schools, pools, jails, parks, and more. The Civic Art Program runs an online forum to identify, catalog, and display LA public art in civic settings.

LACMA - Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture
Visitors explore the Los Angeles Museum of Art. [Photo by Sean O’Donnell/Artistic Fuel]

The Ford Theatre is one of the oldest active performing arts theaters in Los Angeles. In addition, it operates in partnership between the LA Department of Arts and Culture, the Department of Recreation, and the Ford Theatre Foundation. The theater presents a variety of music, dance, theatre, film, and community events. Consequently, event inspires a love of the performing arts while reflecting the county’s cultural diversity.

From professional development programs and internships to research projects and free public concerts, the Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture believes that art has the power to unify communities.

The department leads seeks to make the arts accessible to every person in LA County–regardless of background, culture, or economic status.

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