2018-19 ACTIVATE Projects

Members of the 2018-19 ACTIVATE Program cohort launched advocacy initiatives (Action Projects) impacting 25 municipalities and 20 school districts/ charter networks across LA County. Below you can learn more about these Fellows and their advocacy initiatives.


 

Lakhiyia Hicks

Cultural Policy
City District 10

Last seen co-creatively strategizing sustainable transformations from passive objectivity to active subjectivity in the face of socioeconomic health disparities, Lakhiyia Hicks, founder of HOMEplace, is a Liberation Arts Educator and Cultural Policy Fellow anchored in South Central. Building on their contributions to the Department of Mental Health's community art pop-up, We Rise LA, Lakhiyia set out to co-imagine cultural infrastructures needed in public health to sustain free public art initiatives that center process-oriented community art-making and somatic trauma healing with those of us who are made most vulnerable in and by systemic oppression. During the fellowship, HOMEplace: Healing Truth to Power launched the monthly MusicImprovHealingSesh to amass a collective of arts-based community health workers; funded professional development for its first cohort; and as consultants, trained hundreds of community health workers who were mobilized by Whole Person Care and are currently being integrated into the Los Angeles Department of Health Services. HOMEplace continues to grow in its capacity to co-create spaces to heal outside of isolation–and irrespective of financial access–in ways that promote generational self-determinism especially with Black Queer Female-assigned-at-birth Survivors of sexual assault who disproportionately experience homelessness, justice involvement, foster care, STI and HIV transmission, intimate partner violence, and mental health disparities.


Erick Iñiguez

Cultural Policy
San Fernando Valley

Erick Iniguez is a photographer and activist life long resident of the San Fernando Valley. We live in a digital world where Film Photography is seen as a thing of the past. Thankfully there has been an upsurge of revived interest and a continuous community of film shooters. Currently there are no community darkrooms in the San Ferando Valley that allow community members to create prints nor a space where members can learn from one another. SFV Darkroom is meant to be a space where community members can gather to learn Photography skills specifically relating to Film Photography; from film roll to large print. We finishing out test run Darkroom in Pacoima and will be open (by invitation) in July. Our goal is to not only have youth but as well as older members who always wanted to learn but never had the chance.


Jennifer Kane

Cultural Policy
Arts Connection - the Arts Council of San Bernardino County

Jennifer Kane is the Executive Director of Arts Connection. Arts Connection is the Arts Council of San Bernardino County, serving the entire county and surrounding areas. We work in collaboration with our city, state and county partners to elevate arts and culture in San Bernardino County. On June 21, 2019 Arts Connection will launch a year-long series of countywide convenings all linked by Jennifer's action project vision of creating new pathways for arts and culture initiatives and networks to thrive locally and regionally. Creative Pathways: Regional Start Up will be hosted at the Garcia Center for the Arts in San Bernardino, CA, and is the first of at least 5 convenings Arts Connection will host with partnering organizations, cities, and regional cultural advisors. Formats and conversation will foster strategic partnerships and advocacy teams. Arts, culture, education and funding networks will reach greater connectivity. Future gathering dates are to be determined, but Arts Connection's fall conference will be the annual kick-off to the evolution of this work, taking place on October 5, 2019 at San Bernardino Valley College. Objectives for the Regional Start Up: Identify some of the region’s arts and cultural priorities and needs. Discuss strategies that have been working for different cities and communities across the county through a community and city ""share-out."" Create an action plan for future gatherings and topics, including collective advocacy strategies to pursue. Identify at least 5 regional hubs around the county to co-host and partner with Arts Connection on the Creative Pathway initiative.

Link to Project Materials


John Kannofsky

Arts Education
Green Dot Public Schools

John Kannofsky is a high school art instructor representing Green Dot Public Schools. He has been working on a website arts hub over the past year, as a support for arts teachers. The project began with approvals from the school district's board of directors, then moved to buy-in from Green Dot arts instructors, to the next phase which is to produce the basic site and receive feedback to improve its functionality. In the future, the site will also include other subjects and ultimately become a STEAM site for Green Dot Public Schools. The phases are: 1) Proposal and support; 2) Design and support; 3) Production and feedback; 4) Production / goes 'Live', feedback; 5) Develop future funding with Green Dot as a permanent part of school district. The future sites will be: www.AnimoArt.org; www.AnimoSteam.org; #animoart; #animosteam; @animosteam The hub will be a website and have all other social media links generating from that. The hope is to connect many educators to create a space for collaboration, promoting student work, and bringing forward funding sources such as scholarships, internships and other award opportunities.



Maya Kell-Abrams

Arts Education
City District 5

Maya Kell-Abrams came to ACTIVATE and to represent District 5 as a result of her involvement with Culture Shock Los Angeles. In collaboration with CSLA, she has been working to create a Dance (Street Styles) and Poetry workshop that involves multiple non-profits, and centers parent participation. In her progress so far, she has met with directors of multiple organizations to understand the goals, interests, and needs of their non-profits and whether they align with those of her action project. In these conversations she gained an understanding of the preconditions of launching a project of this scale, as well as of the needs of organizations she deeply admires. Long term, she hopes to carry out her workshop in a way that collaborates with existing programs, and further involves parents in the arts education of their children.


Paula Kessler

Cultural Policy
Pasadena

Paula Kessler is a cultural arts fellow working in the Pasadena area. Paula has worked, and more importantly, is a parent of two daughters who gone to school in Pasadena since pre-school. They are currently in 8th and 11th grade. She has set out to understand the Pasadena cultural and educational community and explore possibilities of adding diverse cultural stories and people to the mix. Pasadena can be rather conservative and stay within its area of the city and in that the students and youth of the area may not venture wide. In working with several schools, understanding their opportunities and challenges to connect with diverse stories and forms of storytelling, Paula has begun to develop inroads with schools and the development of opportunities to bring holocaust survivors, Native American elders, poets and artists to work with students on meaningful projects. She hopes to be able to create sustainable programs that have longevity and will broaden and expand the voices youth hear today. Ideally these on-going programs will find homes in various schools in the Pasadena Area, in festivals, community gatherings and even in print. The idea would be to start with culturally diverse storytellers and mentors, and build that community to include students and educators who understand the power of story and sharing diverse experience and perspectives. Paula hopes to explore the expertise and educational focus of local college students to see if for-credit experiences and classes might add to this program.


Raghubir Kintisch

Arts Education
LACOE/Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

Raghubir Kintisch is a teaching artist at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, a tuition-free public school run by the Los Angeles County Office of Education in partnership with, and on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles. She is also a Foundation Instructor at OTIS College of Art and Design, and a Kundalini Yoga Teacher Trainer operating primarily in the Los Angeles area. The action project began as a bid to develop community-based programing at LACHSA, and in particular a class entitled The Art of Social Action, but over time it morphed into a Nomadic Academy that is built on four course principles: Social Practice, Creative Practices, Yogic Technology and Career Development. While the class never materialized at LACHSA because of spacial issues, Kintisch broadened her vision to include multiple pop-up locations, a wide range of ages and the inclusion of a yoga and meditation component. In it's infancy, the website will host a blog, on-line educational tools and videos, panel discussions as well as access to workshops and course materials. The goal is to network and collaborate with other institutions and teaching artists in order to build a sustainable and viable Academy.

Link to Project Site


Marissa Kucheck

Cultural Policy
City District 13

Marissa Gonzalez Kucheck is an arts administrator and resident of Council District 13. Because of their commitment to access to the arts, Cultural Policy fellows Jamie Costa and Marissa Gonzalez Kucheck teamed up to create a community experience initiative for the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) in Barnsdall Park. The first stage of their project seeks to answer the “who”—who does the Gallery and Park currently serve and what are their perceptions of this particular space—by gathering qualitative and quantitative information via surveys and a social media campaign. The ultimate goal is to promote LAMAG, Barnsdall Park, and other public spaces in Council District 13 as open, accessible resources for art-centered activities and exchanges for all.


Kristine Lee

Arts Education
Topanga Mountain School, West

Kristine Lee , an arts education 2018-2019 fellow, is the visual arts coordinator at Topanga Mountain School in Woodland Hills, where she creates curriculum that empowers young artists to bridge their connections between their personal creativity and outdoor stewardship. Lee has been documenting restoration efforts following the Woolsey Fire, and plans to host Free-quency, a series of community workshops partnering with the Santa Monica Mountain Trust, Wishtoyo Chumash Village, and the California Wildlife Center to serve communities adjacent to impacted burn areas. Free-quency aims to broaden the definition of community to include wild spaces, to acquaint new generations with the heritage of the land we live in, and build access to local conservation outlets for West Valley youth.


Pablo Lenero

Cultural Policy
Santa Clarita

Pablo Leñero Archer is a Cultural Policy fellow representing Santa Clarita. He moved from Mexico in 2013 to study music performance and composition at the California Institute of the Arts. Leñero´s action project strives to expose the Santa Clarita community to different cultures through diverse artistic expressions. To do this he co-founded and co-produced the CalArts Latin American Arts Festival, a yearly multidisciplinary week-long celebration that featured more than 80 Latinx artists and engaged the community through 32 free workshops, lectures, installations and performances. In addition, he worked to create more awareness in the community of the CalArts World Music and Dance Festival, a free multicultural celebration hosted at the CalArts campus in Valencia, CA. To do this he collaborated with fellow students and the Valencia Westfield Town Center Mall to bring music performances of Brazil, Bali, Turkey, Cuba, and The Balkans to the shopping center. Leñero plans to keep increasing the diversity of artists and artistic expressions in the community by collaborating with the local government, schools and organisations.

Link to Project Site


Kaeche Liburd

Cultural Policy
Ingelwood Unified School District

Kaéche Liburd, a resident of Inglewood set out to identify and assess the manner in which the city allows its residents to access arts and entertainment. Kaèche has connected with other residents who have concerns about gentrification and its effects on the current lived experience. They have begun to film individuals who have been in the city over a decade to gather information about their life histories.

Link to Project Materials


Erick Lopez

Cultural Policy
Los Angeles, City District 10

Erick R. López is the Operations Manager at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, but makes his home in CD10 in Los Angeles. As part of his Action Project, Erick knew he wanted to find a way to make the arts more inclusionary. As a first step, he decided to start with the creation of a Cultural Equity and Inclusion Statement and Plan for The Broad Stage. Ultimately, Erick would like to create support networks, especially for mid-career arts administrators of color, to provide mentorship and career guidance.


Michelle Lopez

Cultural Policy
East LA/Boyle Heights

Michelle Lopez, East LA/ Boyle Heights, work at Cal State LA and with Mujeres de Maiz and Self Help Graphics & Art. Her action project was to work with Mujeres de Maiz to create a Statement of Purpose through evaluating the Mission and Vision of the organization. The long term goal is the develop these statements with the organization so they can establish a solid foundation. The next steps are to have the women brainstorm ideas on a google doc. This part has been difficult and will take time to get input and consensus.

Link to Project Site


Niyia Mack

Arts Education
Pasadena Unified District

Niyia Mack is a Pasadena resident representing Pasadena Unified District as an Arts Education Fellow. She's had the unique opportunity to collaborate with Pasadena based organizations, Pasadena Playhouse and Goldstar Events in her career as a producer. Niyia's main goal was to create an action project that brings awareness to the professional opportunities available in the immersive arts industry. Currently, the project is in its second stage of completion having started initial market research, target partner list, and sourcing options for funding. The impact of her proposed action project has the potential to truly shape the voices and minds that will lead the immersive arts industry in the not-so-distant future.

Link to Project Site
Link to Project Materials


Rajasri Mallikarjuna

Cultural Policy
Burbank

Rajasri Mallikarjuna, a Cultural Policy Fellow from Burbank, is a member of the Burbank Cultural Arts Commission, an advisory board for Burbank City Council. A composer, one of her goals in serving on the Commission is to bring free and low-cost music events to the community. She is working with fellow commissioners to organize a free Halloween concert on October 26, 2019, that features local musicians. The commissioners have successfully partnered with the Burbank Town Center to host the event in the newly constructed outdoor terrace of the mall during a craft event for kids, and they have already secured a local chamber ensemble to play popular film and classical music that evokes the spirit of Halloween. By organizing this event, Rajasri seeks to inspire children to play music and to set a precedent for more free and low-cost concerts to be held for the community.


Alexis Notabartolo

Cultural Policy
City District 10

Alexis Notabartolo is Chief of Staff at youth development nonprofit Young Storytellers and a resident of CD 10 (Mid-City). Alexis set out to craft a plan for increasing community engagement via creative use of space (both public and private). Using some of the 1,200 original scripts created by students in Young Storytellers 5th grade-focused Script to Stage program each year, Alexis developed "Off The Page," an event series to be held in various sites near schools that host Young Storytellers. By convening adult experts and community leaders around themes found in 5th graders' scripts (and seeing a live performance of that script), communities are offered an outlet to examine the lived experiences of some of it's youngest members in an engaging, lively way. The first Off The Page is scheduled to take place in the Westlake area in July 2019.


Tracey Onyenacho

Arts Education
LAUSD District 7

Tracey Onyenacho is a literary artist, representing LAUSD District 7 which encompasses her hometown of Gardena. She has created an arts and social justice summer program for high school students in Gardena where they are taught how to use various forms of storytelling to reflect on the effects of oppression on their lives and build practical solutions to help their communities who have faced similar circumstances. Tracey has begun building a network of creatives and social justice organizers who will be teachers for the program by connecting with them at specific gatherings and artistic functions. By summer of 2020, Tracey hopes to get the program operating in its first pilot run at Gardena High School by solidifying the adminstration's assurance with the necessity of the program and securing funding for its long term maintenance.


Tanisha Pitts

Arts Education
Long Beach

Tanisha Pitts, an Arts Education Fellow representing Long Beach, is the Executive Director of MojaMoja, a brunch benefit concert and awards show where artists donate performances to raise awareness and funds supporting initiatives empowering multicultural youth to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM). Tanisha focused on implementing an after-school music program that bridges generational gaps where music artists of all ages are encouraged to work together collectively. To date, Tanisha has reached out to former charity partner, House Of Blues Music Forward Foundation as a potential partner for her pilot program, Dream Of Music (DOM). The final goal of her project is to execute an ongoing music program with DOM that inspires a new generation of music artists to collaborate with founding legends and create a new sound of music suitable for every generation to love.

Link to Project Materials


Paola Reyes

Cultural Policy
City District 13

Paola Reyes is a Cultural Policy Fellow from Los Angeles District 13 and the community communications manager of the environmental equity nonprofit Mujeres de la Tierra. Born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, Paola has a strong background in environmental education. As part of Mujeres de la Tierra, she has taken the lead on the grassroots theater project, Telenovelas in the Park, a multigenerational, culturally relevant, educational tool that teaches the community about important environmental issues while encouraging a shift towards a healthier and more wholesome lifestyle. During ACTIVATE, Paola has extended this theater project for the first time to her local neighborhood in District 13. This year the project has built a partnership with Parks and Recreation, Summer Night Lights (Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti) and District 13 to bring a free, family presentation on Saturday, June 29 , 2019 at Lemon Grove Recreation Center. We hope to see you there!



Roxan Rivas

Cultural Policy
City District 10

The Crenshaw Community is a hub for African American culture with a culturally rich and diverse history. With the addition of the Crenshaw Metro line, Roxan Rivas was interested in exploring policies and strategies that could be implemented to maximize the health benefits and reduce the burdens to the existing residents and businesses. Further, she wanted to explore how local elected, government agencies, and developers can support healthy development without displacement along the Crenshaw Corridor and in adjacent communities. ​ ​Community investment in the Crenshaw community has tremendous potential to improve outcomes for current residents and businesses. However, many of the planned investments have also been associated with gentrification and displacement. Data suggest that affordable housing and housing stability are fundamental determinants of health (Matsuoka et al. 2017). Roxan explored alternatives that can be done to maintain the economic vitality of current residents in the Crenshaw neighborhood and preserve them to the greatest extend possible by maximizing the health benefits of these new investments​.



Arianna Rivera

Cultural Policy
Montebello School District

Arianna Rivera, a Cultural Policy Fellow and former resident of Montebello, is revisiting her hometown where she grew up and attended school. Through collaboration with a Fellow, she hopes to encourage creativity by educating families and students with workshop-like events that explores the wide array of the arts. In the first phase, she will focus on creating art through words- more specifically, storytelling. Through this project, she hopes to reach demographics of underrepresented communities.


Miranda Rivera

Cultural Policy
City District 14

Miranda Ynez is a Cultural Policy fellow of the 2018-2019 cohort representing District 14 of Boyle Heights. As an East Los Angeles native, she sees her role as an arts leader being deeply tied to the health of her Eastside neighborhoods. As a project manager at Self Help Graphics & Art, a leading community art organization based in Boyle Heights since 1973, her work involves advocating the values, insights, and knowledge of the community to help maintain the identity and voice of the neighborhood. She strongly believes that art transforms and uplifts all communities and understands how the exposure to arts and culture creates spaces to remember our histories and empower our voices. Because of this, she was inspired to create for her action project a Cultural Mapping Public Art Project which highlights the history and values within the East Los Angeles area through a visual and public art interpretation. Although there are already existing art and cultural asset mapping initiatives in Los Angeles, the disadvantage of these projects is that they are limited to accessibility and document a small amount of neighborhoods. Since these maps are only accessible online, Miranda wants to bring a visual, civic art component to the streets of Los Angeles that emphasize the already existing initiatives. Her longterm goal is to partner with other East LA community organizations to gather more recommendations on existing assets that would be used to create a public art mapping project used to represent the communities cultural treasures.

Link to Project Materials


Sophia Rivera

Cultural Policy
Pasadena

Sophia Rivera is a Cultural Policy Fellow, representing Pasadena where her family has lived for three generations. As a Chicana writer and educator from Northwest Pasadena, Rivera has created Palabras de Pasadena - a community storytelling project that has set out to document, preserve and share the stories and histories of communities of color from Northwest Dena. Currently Rivera is developing a program for intergenerational storytelling and writing sessions with community members who live and have roots in Northwest Pasadena. With Palabras de Pasadena, Rivera plans to grow this project into a community archive in the form of public art that is accessible to all of Pasadena but located specifically in Northwest Pasadena.

Link to Project Materials
Link to Project Materials
Link to Project Materials


Mariel Rowland

Cultural Policy
City District 11

Mariel Rowland, is a museum educator currently working at the Getty Museum. As an Activate Fellow she set out to facilitate the writing process for the Museum Educators of Southern California’s, (MESC), Cultural Equity Statement. Currently there is a committee of 8 dedicated educators involved: Quincy Irving, Jeanne Hoel, Ruben Lugo, Helen Alonzo, Eunice Lee, Antoine Girard, Jessica Prichard, Kai Monet. Collectively they are invested in cultural equity work and are deep in the process of research, investigation, and statement creation. The long term goal of this statement is to set clear acknowledgments of where we are as a field and ask MESC to commit to certain equitable practices by continuously using a portion of their resources to address and disrupt inequity within our field.


Jennifer Schneiderman

Cultural Policy
City District 5

Jennifer Schneiderman represents District 5. For her Cultural Arts Action Project, Jennifer worked with the Westside Neighborhood Council of Los Angeles (http://wncla.org/) on an interactive project that brought people away from their phones and into a shared experience. The neighborhood council provided a grant from their cultural policy budget that allowed Jennifer to reach a broader audience. For her project, Jennifer worked on creating a safe creative space where people of all ages, districts and socio-economic backgrounds could have a common and shared social and emotional experience. Jennifer wanted to emphasize the auditory, tactile, and analog creative experience of a typewriter as a contrast with our all-encompassing phones. Also, by embracing typos that you can't erase digitally, it builds compassion and a sense that everyone makes mistakes and that is okay. Jennifer's typewriter event took place in a booth at the Pick Pico street fair, which has been held for over 7 years. Participants were instructed to type their memories of the Westside Pavilion before it begins its new life—as Google. Their notes will be bound and kept in a book at the Palms-Rancho Park Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. People of all ages were highly engaged and interested in using the typewriters and sharing their memories, and some even showed interest in buying a copy of the book. Jennifer is now looking into publishing a book with the memories, historic images, and photos from the event.

Link to Project Site


Angela Velarde

Arts Education
City District 5

Angela Velarde, an Arts Education Fellow, works with organizations that are focused on social good in the digital and social media space. She's been an advocate in arts education in schools and in her community by volunteering with various organizations in Los Angeles. She understands the need for arts education in her community and wants to make this accessible to all students. With her Creative Futures project, individuals from all creative backgrounds will speak at Benjamin Franklin High School for an allotted time. Students will receive exposure to various career fields within the arts. Students who participate in Creative Futures will be able to create lasting connections with the best individuals in the arts. The lectures will be held once a month during the student's visual arts class period. Since this project will be student-run and volunteer-based, it will be sustainable for many generations. Most importantly, students will expand their career interests.

Link to Project Materials
Link to Project Materials
Link to Project Materials
Link to Project Materials


Harry Weston

Harry Weston grew up in Santa Cruz, California, surrounded by West African dance and drumming, his first artistic inspirations. He fell in love with hip-hop dance culture at age 15, changing his life and setting him on a path of creativity, community engagement, teaching and mentorship. In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA, and graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts Degree in World Arts and Cultures with a concentration in Dance, as well as a Minor in Civic Engagement. While at UCLA, he participated in a number of artistic and teaching endeavors. In 2009 he was invited to dance professionally with the internationally renowned hip-hop dance company, Versa-Style, whom he also managed from 2012-2016, and is now serving as Partnerships Manager. In 2010, he inherited and directed an after school hip-hop dance program at Abraham Lincoln High School in East LA, before passing it off to two alumni in 2014, who still direct the program today. And in 2012, he created his own work, "Without Fear," exploring the emotional complexity of the grieving process, premiering in the department's undergraduate showcase, "WACsmash." His work was later featured at the prestigious John Anson Ford Amphitheater in 2013 at Los Angeles’ premier street dance theater showcase, The J.U.i.C.E. Hip Hop Dance Festival. He also was fortunate enough to serve as Head Counselor for the UCLA Dance/Performing Arts Summer Intensive each summer during his time at UCLA, which he has now Co-Directed for the last two years. Harry has continued his work as a professional artist throughout his ten-year tenure in Los Angeles, touring as a principal dancer with Versa-Style in places such as India, Israel, and Scotland, and competing in prestigious hip-hop freestyle dance competitions such as Battle of the Year (Israel), Step Ya Game Up (New York), Bust A Move (Montreal), and Last One Stands (Vancouver).

You can read about his work as a 2018-19 ACTIVATE Fellow Arts Education East Los Angeles here:Link to Project Materials


Jessica Wilson Cardenas

Arts Education
City District 6, Panorama City, San Fernando Valley

Jessica Wilson Cardenas is an Arts Education Fellow serving District 6, Panorama City, in the San Fernando Valley. As an active Arts Educator, Jessica, had multiple residencies at Vista Middle School, where she taught poetry to ELL and Language Arts Students. Her action project, with her partner Juan Cardenas, is to establish a youth open mic venue for students in the community to share and express themselves through the arts. We seek to partner with an existing community business who sees the value of offering a safe place for youth to connect and create. Thus far, we have identified that target area for the open mic, along Roscoe Blvd. The ultimate goal is to establish a youth open mic, eventually to be run by the youth, with mentorship from the Los Angeles Poet Society. Our next step is to secure our partnership with small business that will be home to this new open mic series.