ARTISTS SELECTED FOR LOS ANGELES ACTIVATION OF WPA-INSPIRED INITIATIVE ARTISTS AT WORK, ORGANIZED BY THE OFFICE PERFORMING ARTS + FILM WITH THE LA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF ARTS AND CULTURE
Artists At Work is excited to announce our Los Angeles County artist cohort: Myisha Arellano, Drew Arriola-Sands, Jessa Calderon, Karina Ceja, Audrey Chan, jason chu, Rene Fisher-Mims, Maru García, Michelle Glass, Taylor Griffith, Erick Iniguez, Marcus Kuiland-Nazario, Reginald B. McKinley II, Vojislav Radovanović, Kayla Shelton and Nancy Woo. These 16 artists will work closely with their host Culture Hubs in partnership with community-based Social Impact Initiatives all across Los Angeles County’s 5 Supervisorial Districts.
Artists At Work Brings Together Artists with Cultural and Community-Based Organizations to Address Deeply Rooted Economic and Social Issues Laid Bare by the COVID-19 Pandemic
LA Edition Begins a National Expansion of the Initiative Made Possible by $3 Million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Participating Cultural Organizations, and the Artists Selected to Work with Them, Include 18th Street Arts Center (Maru García & Marcus Kuiland-Nazario), Angels Gate Cultural Center (Taylor Griffith & Nancy Woo), Armory Center for the Arts (Myisha Arellano & Michelle Glass), Chicxs Rockerxs South East Los Angeles (CRSELA) (Drew Arriola-Sands & Jessa Calderon), the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy at the Japanese American National Museum (NCPD@JANM) (Audrey Chan & Jason Chu), LA Commons (Rene Fisher Mims & Kayla Shelton), the Lancaster Museum of Art and History (Reginald B. McKinley, II & Vojislav Radovanović), and Tia Chucha's Cultural Center & Bookstore (Karina Ceja & Erick Alfonso Iniguez)
THE OFFICE performing arts + film and LA County Department of Arts and Culture today announce the artists selected by a diverse network of culture hubs for the Los Angeles iteration of THE OFFICE’s national Artists At Work (AAW) initiative. THE OFFICE, in collaboration with the FreshGrass Foundation, conceived AAW early in the pandemic, as artistic communities were ravaged, careers were halted, and dire financial struggles ensued. AAW was inspired by FDR’s Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) and its Federal Project Number One, and addresses an urgent need to reimagine the culture sector and how we value artists’ role in society—a need that the pandemic has starkly revealed, and that will continue as the public health crisis abates.
Artists At Work is a workforce resilience program designed to support the rebuilding of healthy communities through artistic civic engagement. The program pays artists to keep making art; gives support to cultural organizations (called Culture Hubs) and arts workers in that community to host and work with those artists; and connects both artists and cultural organizations to local social impact initiatives in areas such as youth mental health, suicide prevention, food justice, prison reform, at-risk youth, sustainability, and environmental justice.
Participating artists receive a salary, calculated using the MIT Living Wage Calculator for their respective region, for a period of one year, as well as full healthcare benefits. Following their participation in the program, they are eligible for unemployment benefits, and may continue healthcare coverage under COBRA if they choose. Artists working in any artistic discipline qualify for the program; they must be local to the region, and actively interested in a social practice.
In Los Angeles, AAW spans the geography of the county, with Culture Hubs that are deeply rooted in their respective communities and predominantly are led by or serve Black, Latinx, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. These hubs, and the artists they’ve selected to work with them, include: 18th Street Arts Center (Maru García & Marcus Kuiland-Nazario), Angels Gate Cultural Center (Taylor Griffith & Nancy Woo), Armory Center for the Arts (Myisha Arellano & Michelle Glass), Chicxs Rockerxs South East Los Angeles (CRSELA) (Drew Arriola-Sands & Jessa Calderon), the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy at the Japanese American National Museum (NCPD@JANM) (Audrey Chan & Jason Chu), LA Commons (Rene Fisher Mims & Kayla Shelton), the Lancaster Museum of Art and History (Reginald B. McKinley, II & Vojislav Radovanović), and Tia Chucha's Cultural Center & Bookstore (Karina Ceja & Erick Alfonso Iniguez). These organizations, located across the county’s five Supervisorial Districts, span a broad range of artistic disciplines and reflect the region’s vast cultural diversity.
The Culture Hubs will also select social impact initiatives with which they will soon work. The collaborations will focus on key cross-sector policy areas identified in the County Board of Supervisors’ adopted priorities and the Countywide Cultural Policy, a first-of-its kind policy developed by the LA County Department of Arts and Culture with input from hundreds of community members and stakeholders and adopted by the Board in 2020 to strengthen cultural equity, invest in access to arts, and promote the role of the arts in advancing equity across civic sectors of our lives.
The LA edition marks the beginning of a national expansion of AAW made possible by $3 million in funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, following a highly successful pilot in Western Massachusetts.
“As we work to advance recovery and resilience for the arts and culture sector, we are excited to partner with our colleagues at THE OFFICE performing arts + film and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the Artists At Work initiative and bring more national resources to the arts in the LA region,” said Kristin Sakoda, Director of the LA County Department of Arts and Culture. “THE OFFICE has selected eight incredible cultural organizations with deep ties to community, cultural and racial equity, and artist-driven work. The AAW initiative aligns closely with our own efforts, as we reimagine new ways to support artists, cultural organizations, and cross-sector civic issues in LA County.”
[Quote from Senator Markey]
AAW’s national expansion will include the Mississippi Delta region, in partnership with the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, in 2022; the Borderlands region, in partnership with the Southwest Folklife Alliance and the City of Albuquerque Department of Arts & Culture, in 2023. Thanks to the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, AAW will have the opportunity to work with 21 cultural organizations, 42 artists across disciplines, 36 community-based social impact initiatives, and nine arts administration fellows and interns across these three regions, impacting whole community ecosystems.
THE OFFICE founding director Rachel Chanoff says, “Artists are workers whose work product is crucial to the health of every society. Communities flourish when artists are woven into the everyday fabric of our lives. We are thrilled and inspired by the compelling projects our first cohort of artists launched in their communities. The impact across the spectrum of local social impact initiatives has been profound. We’re so excited that the artists joining us in LA County, the Delta and the Borderlands will use their artistry and creative vision to help their neighborhoods to flourish.”
Emil Kang, Arts and Culture Program Director for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has said, “Artists At Work is visionary in its artist-centered, ecosystem-integrated approach, and we’re thrilled to support its growth. Sustained artist employment and partnership models, such as those utilized by Artists At Work, are essential to driving systemic change and addressing deep inequities in the field. It is an important complement to Mellon’s recently announced Creatives Rebuild New York initiative.”
National partners for AAW include the International Storytelling Center and Theater of War Productions.
For more information, please visit https://www.artists-at-work.org/.