Arts for LA is excited to unveil its 2023/24 Policy and Advocacy Agenda: Building a Thriving Creative Infrastructure, the roadmap for advancing Los Angeles’ artistic foundation. While Los Angeles holds stature as one of the premiere creative capitals of the world, the region has yet to fully develop a Creative Infrastructure that can adequately support its thriving creative communities, art institutions, and global impact.
This agenda aims to inform, engage and mobilize individuals and organizations to advocate for improved Creative Infrastructure which includes more affordable space for artists and organizations, equitable implementation of Proposition 28, and living wages for arts workers.
“Despite being the top per capita provider of arts in the nation, Los Angeles ranks 259th in government funding allocation. This disparity disproportionately affects BIPOC and low-income communities as well as BIPOC-centered organizations,” said Gustavo Herrera, CEO, Arts for LA. “We must work together to dismantle these funding barriers and strengthen our creative infrastructure that will ultimately benefit all of Los Angeles.”
The agenda details our four priority policy areas of focus including Resources & Capital, Equitable Arts Education, Creative Jobs, and Affordable Space. These four areas are critical in Arts for LA’s mission to build a thriving creative infrastructure that supports arts providers in the Greater Los Angeles Region. The agenda dives into the pressing issues facing the arts community, a process that engaged hundreds of artists, arts workers, arts advocates, and civic leaders from across the region in conversations and surveys to establish the policy priorities for the creative sector.
Identifying Four Key Issue Areas
In 2019, Arts for LA began to have conversations with our network of advocates about the most pressing challenges facing creative communities across the region. Four distinct issue areas emerged as a result of this process: 1) affordable space 2) equitable arts education 2) creative jobs, and 4) resources + capital. The pandemic has intensified the adverse effects on the creative sector, reinforcing the centrality of these challenges.
Laura Zucker Fellowship for Policy and Research
Arts for LA selects a Laura Zucker Fellow to conduct research into an underexplored aspect of one of our four policy areas. Our platform builds on the research produced by Laura Zucker Fellows past and present.
Community Listening Sessions
Every fall, Arts for LA hosts four listening sessions, each focused on one of our issue areas. Hundreds of community members gather to discuss our sector’s most urgent challenges and opportunities.
Policy Working Groups
Dozens of subject-area experts gather in issue-specific Policy Working Groups on a bi-annual basis to synthesize findings from our listening sessions and identify common themes that begin articulating policy solutions and advocacy strategies.
State of the Arts Summit
In October, Arts for LA hosts its annual State of the Arts Summit. This day-long conference serves as an essential community touchpoint, updating stakeholders on proposed policy and advocacy directions, soliciting community feedback, and engaging cross-sector experts to lend a broader context to the policy development process.
Policy & Advocacy Agenda Release
The Arts for LA team works to roll-up concerns and ideas expressed during listening sessions, working groups, the State of the Arts Summit, and ongoing conversations with community members. The result is our Policy and Advocacy agenda.
Covid-19 has exacerbated deep structural inequities within the creative workforce: lack of racial diversity, low and stagnant wages, and employment insecurity due to chronic undercapitalization of arts & culture organizations.
Arts for LA understands the region’s creative sector will not be healthy until it addresses these issues and so it is launching an eight-year effort: the Creative Jobs Collective Impact Initiative (CJCII), which will work to:
- Achieve parity between regional racial demographics and creative workforce representation.
- Build 10,000 entry level, creative sector job placements for BIPOC workers over the next decade.
- Establish a sector-wide median entry-level wage that is at or above the region’s living wage as determined by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator.
- Advance the CJCII by securing key partners and a legislative champion.
- Advocate to secure funding for the California Creative Workforce Act of 2021.
- Advocate for the stabilization and advancement of equity in the performing arts field by supporting the establishment of an Equitable Payroll Fund.
- Advocate for public and/or private funding for sustainable livelihood programs in the creative sector.
- Continue to research and internally implement equitable practices including salary transparency and collective decision-making models.
In dozens of convenings and conversations, our community made it unmistakably clear: the combined lack of affordable housing and workspace is driving practitioners, arts workers, and arts & culture organizations out of the Los Angeles region.
Our community also repeatedly expressed interest in solidarity-based structures that emphasize resource-sharing and collaborative models. Over the coming years, Arts for LA will work with aligned partners to build programs and policies that incentivize shared space, a communal approach to shouldering the increased costs of operating safely in an ongoing pandemic, and embed community-led arts & culture initiatives within new and existing development projects.
Advocate for space share programs that provide affordable space accessible to artists and arts organizations, through partnerships with public agencies, funders, developers and cultural and business districts.
California’s public school system is massively underfunded, with low-income students and students of color far more likely to be denied arts education.
Our community is eager to pursue multiple strategies for achieving scale and equity in arts instruction. There is a sense that community-based arts organizations have become critical to the movement for arts education, yet remain underutilized and underfunded by many school districts. Arts for LA envisions an ecosystem that supports credentialed, full-time arts teachers working in tandem with community-based arts organizations to ensure every student has access to the arts education that is their right.
- Ensure Prop 28 funds are implemented accurately and equitably.
- Advocate for meaningful participation from community based organizations in school programming.
- Participate in efforts to secure equitable access to the internet and digital devices for all students.
Resources & Capital
Our community is calling for a creative ecosystem that centers the needs of its most important resource – its people. A just and sustainable creative sector requires equitable practices, more public funding, increased community control over cultural resources, and redressing the chronic undercapitalization of BIPOC artists and BIPOC-led organizations/cultural institutions.
- Work to increase public funding for arts and culture agencies across the region.
- Assist with building widespread support for the performing arts field by contributing to a regional movement that encourages LA residents to return to performances, and advocating for public and private funding to support arts organizations facing increased reopening costs and loss of revenue due to rolling shutdowns
- Advocate for equitable funding practices, prioritizing low-income, BIPOC, undocumented and underrepresented creative communities, organizations, and workers.