2017-18 ACTIVATE Projects

Members of the 2017-18 ACTIVATE Program cohort launched advocacy initiatives (Action Projects) impacting 13 municipalities and 22 school districts/ charter networks across LA County. Below you can learn more about these Fellows and their advocacy initiatives.

 


 

Malky Kertis

Arts Education
LAUSD District 3

Malky Kertis, an Arts Education Fellow from Valley Glen, LAUSD Board of Education District 3, is an artist, parent, and neighborhood council board member. Driven by her experience and involvement in the community and her passion for printmaking, Kertis is in the midst of developing and implementing the “Print Into Action” workshops and curriculum. The program is based on the application of art and printmaking as a method of empowering high school students and introduces the impact of application of practical art on the individual and the community at large. The program explores what printmaking is, provides positive, hands-on experience, and emphasizes growth and self-development while being involved in the creative economy of Los Angeles.


Alexa Kim

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 14

Alexa Kim, a Cultural Policy Fellow, is the Program Coordinator at Self Help Graphics & Art in Boyle Heights where she manages the organization’s 45-year-old print archive and assists in coordinating mobile art workshops in the community. In order to document pieces of intangible cultural heritage, Kim is exploring storytelling through the lens of home cooking. By conducting interviews with women about memories tied to a recipe that has been passed down to them, she hopes to capture how we honor the past and our histories by continuing to cook these foods. In order to share these stories, Kim plans to host a series of pop-up meals featuring the dishes and stories, shared to create a dialogue around remembrance, forging new traditions, and archiving memories.

Link to Project Materials


Judy Leventhal

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 2

Judy Leventhal, a Cultural Policy Fellow, represents North Hollywood, Council District 2. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Teaching Artist, Registered Art Therapist, and Contemporary Mask Maker, Leventhal is the creator of the Mask Making Adventures in Creativity Visual Arts Trauma Intervention Program. She partners with New Directions for Youth, Inc., a well established North Hollywood based nonprofit who specializes in working with at-risk youth in underserved communities throughout the San Fernando Valley. Judy Leventhal has received the 2018 "Bruce Ackerman" Partners with Youth Award from New Directions for Youth for creating and running the Mask Making Adventures in Creativity art program that gives youth the opportunity to connect with their heritage and inner selves.

With support from the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles Artist-in-Residence Program, and the California Arts Council, Artists in Schools Extension Program, the New Directions for Youth After School Mask Making Adventures Program provides young people, residing in the Los Angeles City Mayor's San Fernando Valley Gang Reduction and Youth Development Zone, with opportunities to create sculptural masks and prepare journals to build identity and multicultural understanding through creative ability in art.

Leventhal has advocated for a public art Mask Wall to celebrate the creativity of children and youth served by New Directions for Youth. She has received support for the Mask Wall public arts project from City Council Member Paul Krekorian and from New Directions for Youth Executive Director Monica Austin Jackson. Leventhal plans to establish ties with the Alliance for California Traditional Arts to develop long-term support for her artistry, the Mask Making Adventures in Creativity program, and the Mask Wall. She envisions establishing an apprenticeship legacy to reach future generations.


Kaz Matamura

Arts Education
LAUSD District 6

Kaz Matamura, an Arts Education Fellow from Los Angeles, is the Development Director at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre Los Angeles, and has been actively involved in the Los Angeles theatre community for over 20 years as a theatre producer. Matamura created Speak Up, Now ('SUP), a Public Speech training program and competition for youth in LA County. ‘SUP gives students the tools they need to speak out, to be effective speakers, to actively engage with current issues, and encourages local schools and youth organizations to find solutions for these issues. After the program was proposed to the Adler and approved, Matamura set the schedule for the workshop and contest, and contacted elected officials to request their involvement and endorsement of the project. Matamura envisions that, as the program continues, the number of participating schools and organizations will increase each year and create a road map for young leaders to be effective speakers.

Link to Project Materials


Mandy Matthews

Arts Education
LAUSD District 4

Mandy Matthews, an Arts Education Fellow from Los Angeles, is the Education and Community Programs Associate at The Broad Stage. Due to their desire to help educators feel supported in their practice, Mandy Matthews and Estella Owoimaha-Church created EN-ACT. This digital, nomadic, professional-learning network aims to harness the transformative power of the arts by fostering collaboration amongst teachers, artists, and community leaders, allowing all to feel supported as they integrate the arts, social emotional learning, and human rights education into their classrooms and work.

To do this, EN-ACT will host quarterly Twitter chats, called #EnactChat, in order to crowd source best practices, grant free access to materials, and share teacher narratives. The first Twitter dialogue went live April 14th, 2018 with participants chiming in from Romania, Colombia, Vietnam, Canada, and across the United States, covering several content areas and spanning all grade levels. Matthews and Owoimaha-Church seek to create new content, connect more educators, and build partnerships that support EN-ACT’s mission, vision, and pillars.

Link to Project Site
Link to Project Materials


Rosalinda Meza

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 9

Rosalinda Meza, a Cultural Policy Fellow, is an urban planner and resident of Council District 9. Meza is working on mapping out the Oaxacan Philharmonic bands that practice in the district area. There are currently an estimated forty Oaxacan philharmonic bands in Southern California and the longest established band is 40 years old. Being a past band member herself, she acknowledges how much being in a band has helped form her identity as an Oaxacan descendant born in Los Angeles. The purpose of the project is to visually show the musical richness and diversity that the district has, particularly emphasizing Oaxacan Philharmonic bands. In mapping out the places where the bands practice, she aspires to honor and acknowledge their musical and social contributions to the area. District 9 is already an environment filled with music and rich in musical history as it is home to the Historic Jazz Corridor, the Oaxacan bands add to this musical legacy.

The ultimate goal is to identify any needs for physical space or community spaces that the bands may have, such as a lack of access to rehearsal space. Another goal is to increase the marketing for the Oaxacan band concert that is hosted in the new 9th and organized by the longest standing Oaxacan organization, Organization Regional de Oaxaca (ORO).


Monica Miklas

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 1

Monica Miklas is a Cultural Policy Fellow from Los Angeles, representing Council District 1, where she produces live theatre. Miklas is on the founding board of the League of Experiential and Immersive Artists (LEIA), an industry group for producers in the immersive theatre field, and is establishing the organization's Outreach Committee as her Action Project. Miklas’s Outreach Team is currently liaising with the Los Angeles City Council to further LEIA's efforts to establish a new type of temporary, special event permit for cultural events in permanent structures. This will help support performance artists seeking to work in non-traditional venues. While continuing to engage with the permit issue, Miklas’s team will develop policy priorities for LEIA and introduce members to opportunities for public funding through a workshop with municipal agencies that commission and fund art.


Linda Neumaier

Arts Education
LAUSD District 6

Linda Neumaier, an Arts Education Fellow, works in LAUSD Board of Education District 6 and is a resident of Glendale. Neumaier has been working with a local taskforce that serves as a liaison between local citizens and the local government around the social justice issue of affordable housing for all. An effort is underway to get a proposed ordinance for rent control on the ballot for the November 2018 election. In conjunction with this, a visual media campaign will begin to inform and educate the community about the values and issues that surround the concept of housing as a human right.


Estella Owoimaha-Church

Arts Education
Centinela Valley Union High School District

Estella Owoimaha-Church, CTA Equity & Human Rights Award Recipient and 2017 Global Teacher Prize Finalist, is a theatre arts teacher and CTE pathway director at a public high school in Hawthorne, Los Angeles. Due to their desire to help educators feel supported in their practice, Arts Education Fellows Mandy Matthews and Estella Owoimaha-Church created EN-ACT. This digital, nomadic, professional-learning network aims to harness the transformative power of the arts by fostering collaboration amongst teachers, artists, and community leaders, allowing all to feel supported as they integrate the arts, social emotional learning, and human rights education into their classrooms and work.

To do this, EN-ACT will host quarterly Twitter chats, called #EnactChats, in order to crowd source best practices, grant free access to materials, and share teacher narratives. The first Twitter dialogue went live April 14th, 2018 with participants chiming in from Romania, Colombia, Vietnam, Canada, and across the United States, covering several content areas and spanning all grade levels. Owoimaha-Church and Matthews seek to create new content, connect more educators, and build partnerships that support EN-ACT’s mission, vision, and pillars.

Link to Project Site
Link to Project Materials


Gail Phinney

Cultural Policy
Rancho Palos Verdes

Gail Phinney, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Rancho Palos Verdes, is the Palos Verdes Art Center Education Director and a member of the Arts Education Innovation Lab, which is dedicated to bringing an equitable and scalable model for arts education to every student in Los Angeles County. Phinney believes in the power of art to build community and has partnered with San Pedro, graffiti artist Mike Machin to design the Mobile Graffiti Yard. Mobile Graffiti Yard is a modular wall system that addresses the lack of safe and legal venues for graffiti artists and muralists to create work and allows artists to create large-scale work. The flexibility and ease of a pop-up venue allows the wall system to be placed in virtually any outdoor location and can be quickly removed, leaving the space unaffected. The goal of the Mobile Graffiti Yard, now fabricated and ready for programming, is to provide safe, legal venues for underserved communities to create, share, and enjoy graffiti art, as well as become a catalyst for authentic, creative engagement with local visual and performing artists. For information on how to bring the Mobile Graffiti Yard to your community, contact gphinney@pvartcenter.org.

Link to Project Site


Elizabeth Pickens

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 4

Elizabeth Pickens, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Los Angeles Council District 4, is an arts consultant specializing in supporting queer and trans artists, women, and artists of color. Committed to arts equity, Pickens wants to draw attention to racial and gender pay gaps that exist for contemporary artists of all disciplines. Capitalizing on the publication and touring of her book Your Art Will Save Your Life (Feminist Press, 2018), Pickens authored a series of op-eds, created digital media content, and conducted a series of print, podcast, and radio interviews on capitalism and wage transparency in the arts. She will continue this advocacy work through a targeted social media account and organized agitating to increase W.A.G.E. certification for Los Angeles arts organizations and institutions.

Link to Project Site
Link to Project Materials


Andres Rivera

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 9

Andres RHIPS Rivera, a Cultural Policy Fellow representing Compton and South Central Los Angeles, is founding Poems & Petals, a series of place-keeping, creative, civic engagement, public arts presentations that set out to transform public spaces into community building opportunities by using poetry and the gift of a flower to creatively engage community members in underserved council districts. Rivera is currently identifying key collaborators in South Central Los Angeles to launch Poems & Petals. He is working on securing funding through community donations, grant writing, and business partnerships to produce their first presentation in Council District 9. This will amplify the value of creative civic engagement and begin to identify the impact that public arts activities have on bolstering the cultural equity of South Central Los Angeles during national poetry month in April.

Link to Project Site


Antonio Rodriguez

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 14

Antonio Rodriguez, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Council District 14, is a writer, educator, and organizer who deeply believes in the power of story to change the world. He is a proud member of the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee as well as the Skid Row Community Improvement Coalition. Rodriguez is creating a series of audio stories that offer voice to underreported impact efforts in Skid Row and explores why these approaches have or have not worked. He is working with a wide range of Angelenos, from downtown area stakeholders to current and former city officials to folks experiencing homelessness. He hopes to use narrative to demystify how the average citizen can actionably get involved with these issues, as well as highlight some of the best practices and most promising methodologies that have found blooming form in this long troubled community.


Maria Ruiz Gonzalez

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 1

Maria Ruiz González, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Los Angeles, represents Highland Park in Council District 1, where she has lived for over twenty years. She has set out to research how the crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles plays out in Highland Park and how art has been used to advocate for homeless rights. Ruiz González has met with representatives of local organizations to assess the diverse needs of residents without housing and to brainstorm how the arts can be part of creative problem solving. She will be collaborating with emerging artists and leaders to establish sustainable arts programing centered on the needs of homeless neighbors, which will serve as an advocacy platform for policy changes regarding homelessness in Highland Park.


April Russell

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 13

April Q. Russell, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Council District 13, is the founder and president of Revolutionize Hollywood, a creative social enterprise and accelerator program for artist to elevate and take control of their career. Russell set out to create an Artists Coalition that is committed to elevating underrepresented artists, specifically within Council District 13. Russell has submitted an official proposal for the creation and launch of the Activate Artists Coalition Committee to the Board Chair of Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council (HSDNC).

The committee will advocate for elevating artists and activating the Hollywood Studio District community spaces through revenue generating performance and exhibiting opportunities. The long-term goal for Activate Artists Coalition Committee is to advocate for hi-level pop-up stages to provide visibility platforms for independent artists and attract tourism to the Hollywood Studio District.

Link to Project Site


Melissa Sanvicente

Cultural Policy
San Fernando

Melissa Ehekalli Sanvicente, a Cultural Policy fellow from San Fernando and Council District 7, is a longtime community member of Sylmar, cultural arts advocate, and Associate Director of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore, who acknowledges, as a native Mexihca drummer, dancer, and singer, the importance of cultural arts in community to build, connect, and heal. In partnership with Pierre Arreola, they set out to create a series of mixers/studio shares dubbed CREATE.CONNECT.COLLABORATE, in hopes of bringing local artists together across multiple disciplines as agents of social change by fostering intergenerational and intercultural exchange. They have been able to establish support from the San Fernando Valley Arts Council, set the new Pacoima Arts Incubator as the location of the first mixer/studio share, and network with community artists through multiple local events. The intention is to create a movement of collaboration and solidarity within Northeast San Fernando Valley artists and arts organizations through these seasonal mixers/studio shares to nurture creativity, community building, and create spaces for community healing.

Link to Project Materials
Link to Project Materials


Suzy Silvestre

Cultural Policy
Lancaster

Suzy Silvestre, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Lancaster, moved to the Antelope Valley in 2015 from Los Angeles. In her current role at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, she is working to broaden, deepen, and diversify programming through community partnerships and collaboration. She has partnered with Robert Benitez to work with the Lancaster Museum of Art and History to present a new collaborative series aimed at engaging local youth in visual and performing arts. Through conversations between artists and audiences, Silvestre and Benitez hope to expand young people’s understanding of the arts and their various intersections. Silvestre would like her advocacy work to facilitate stronger bonds between Lancaster’s cultural assets, residents, and stakeholders for the purposes of achieving cultural equity and creative placemaking.


Alex Sizemore-Smale

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 9

Alex Sizemore-Smale is a Cultural Policy Fellow representing Council District 9 where she goes to school as a graduate student at USC. Sizemore-Smale partnered with Nikkema Taylor to create the South Los Angeles Arts Initiative (SLAAI), a network of artists and arts organizations in South Los Angeles. Sizemore-Smale created a website for the network and is collaborating with Council District 8 and the Department of Cultural Affairs to organize an initial meeting to raise awareness about funding opportunities for artists and arts organizations. The meeting will introduce attendees to continuing organizing opportunities and resources offered through SLAAI, which includes a local network of arts professionals, information about funding opportunities, and small business support services. Together, the network will help create a more connected, supported, and resilient arts community in South Los Angeles.


Janin Spoor

Arts Education
LAUSD District 3

Janin Spoor, an Arts Education Fellow, has been a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District for eighteen years. Creating a new Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) high school in the West Valley was the beginning focus of her Action Project. At this point, Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to place the VAPA high school on an already established campus for the students to get a comprehensive high school experience while pursuing their artistic interests. Spoor will spend the summer working on writing the plans for the high school, which will open in 2019, and start advocating for the refurbishment of school performance spaces.


Madeleine St. John

Arts Education
LAUSD District 2

Madeleine St. John is an Arts Education Fellow representing Board of Education District 1 of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Inspired by her two affinities for self-expression and nutrition, St. John works toward the integration of Culinary Arts into community and education programming in order to teach the relationship between self-care, expression, and community vitality. By acting as a conduit between local chefs, organizations, and school district employees, St. John successfully connected wellness nonprofit Akasa Community Outreach to the Los Angeles Creativity Summit (organized by Arts Education Fellow Jill Beale) to lead a cooking and nutrition workshop and provide catering for all program participants. Moving forward, St. John hopes to continue advocating on behalf of Akasa and other key figures within the food justice movement in order to create more spaces for creativity, cooking, and self-care to coexist.

Link to Project Materials


Yoli Tamu

Arts Education
Inglewood Unified School District

Yoli Tamu, an Arts Education Fellow from Marina del Rey, has passionately served students as an educator and mentor for over twenty years in the Los Angeles and Inglewood area. She set out to introduce and establish her self-awareness program for college bound women in search of personal guidance and mental health support on a new college campus. Tamu has secured her first bulk book purchase and performance workshop for her program titled, "Back to Me: A Devotional Walk for the College Freshman Woman" with the First Year Experience Office at El Camino Community College. She will be offering her book and program to first year students at two universities outside of California and another local community college for the Fall 2018 semester. Through her introspective program, she hopes to develop individualized passion in her students, so they can identify career goals that will empower them beyond their college years.


Julia Taylor

Arts Education
LAUSD District 1

Julia Taylor, an Arts Education Fellow and the youTHink Program Director, is building new school partnerships with Inglewood Unified School District and Los Angeles Unified School District. Taylor’s Action Project aimed to expand youTHink's practice of having school-based programs only coordinated by the classroom teachers, by building sustainable partnerships with the school administrators, district, and local stakeholders. This spring, youTHink launched a pilot "Improv for Social Change" residency at Inglewood High School (IUSD) and established a memo of agreement for next school year at Huntington Park High School. In the coming school year, youTHink aims to build on these starting points by collaborating with IUSD leaders on their arts education plan, and formalizing the arts and social change residency model in these two districts.


Nikkema Taylor

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 8

Nikkema Taylor, a Cultural Policy Fellow, is the founder of Youth Drama Theater, a performing arts club for the youth of South Los Angeles. Taylor partnered with Alex Sizemore-Smale to create the South Los Angeles Arts Initiative (SLAAI). SLAAI will present a new way of learning, performing, and experiencing art in South Los Angeles by creating a collective of artists and arts organizations, a website to connect artist to public spaces and the community to art experiences, and by partnering with City and County Recreation Centers and Libraries. Thus far, Taylor has solicited feedback from arts organizations in the area and the collective will be formed in the summer of 2018. The goal is to provide arts to the community and advocacy for the region’s artists and arts organizations.


Frances Tiger

Arts Education
Champs Charter High School

Frances Tiger, an Arts Education Fellow, initiated the first annual Reflections contest for Champs Charter High School for the Arts students, with the foundational support of PTSA president Monica DeBarros. Tiger and DeBarros’s expectations were exceeded when several student artists place and two went onto district competition. Annual themes are now released earlier in summer to get a head start. Tiger wishes for this to grow and be an annual event, inviting artists and parents to volunteer and get involved. Tiger recognizes that providing a safe, effective exhibit space to gather comfortably is crucial and hopes to raise funds and gain approval for a permanent quality art exhibit spaces.

Link to Project Materials


Amanda Wada

Arts Education
Torrance Unified School District

Amanda Wada is an Arts Education Fellow and a former student of the school district she represents, the Torrance Unified School District (TUSD). The city of Torrance has a vibrant arts community and she would like the school district to support and expand upon the arts even more during the school year. To further promote the arts in Torrance, she will be leading an art-making workshop that will engage entire families at a local elementary school’s fall festival. Wada hopes this art workshop will be part of an ongoing project that will continue to encourage the teaching of the arts, including arts integration, throughout TUSD.


Tamica Washington-Miller

Cultural Policy
City of Los Angeles, Council District 10

Tamica Washington-Miller, a Cultural Policy Fellow, is the Associate Director for the Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) in Council District 10, where they own and have operated their space for 38 years. Washington-Miller’s project will help examine the impact that spaces for art and culture have on the “Culture of Health” in our communities. Washington-Miller was able to acquire funding through the National Advisory Group for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations’ “Youth Path To Our Health” project. Washington-Miller used the mini documentaries that the foundation produced to launch conversations specific to the community. Three community gatherings were held, reaching approximately 60 people. The goal is to explore the organization’s role in building a culture of health and to expand their support for the overall health of students and the community through dance and culture. Washington-Miller hopes to establish new funding resources from the health community to continue this work. The next steps are to set dates for more community gatherings and collaboration.


Karina Esperanza Yanez

Arts Education
Inner City Education Foundation

Karina Yanez is a teaching artist at View Park Preparatory K-8 and lifelong resident of Council District 8. ICEF’s district wide Arts Integration initiative is wrapping up its 3rd year of collaboration with the Getty Museum. The partnership is designed for teachers at ICEF Public Schools to have an arts integration component to their daily lessons, despite the tight scheduling and various standardized testing requirements. Yanez wanted a proactive and consistent approach to the curricula amidst the constantly changing school district, school community, and local community. Yanez’s Action Project resulted in a virtual handbook that is to be used as a resource by the community. Greetings from South Central LA aims to create accessibility to the arts by bridging theory and practice to a community where its discourse is often paired with poverty, violence and lack of resources. It is a guide and welcoming platform to the arts designed for audiences specific to South Central LA to engage with the wonderful arts resources that both the City of Los Angeles and local communities have and foster. This project will continue to grow and develop alongside the community and it's school districts and arts organizations.

Link to Project Site


William Zaluski

Arts Education
LAUSD District 6

William Zaluski, an Arts Education Fellow from the J. Paul Getty Museum, has been working to increase awareness of the Getty's free Title I bus funding for schools in LAUSD Board of Education District 6. His hope is to increase first-time visits to art museums as a matter of equity for public school students. He is contacting schools to inform them of the free bus program and is tracking data on first-time and repeat visits to the Getty. The hope is to build continual attendance and use of museum programs as a way to increase arts education opportunities in the community.