2011 LA Convergence Report-Out

Thu, 10/27/2011 (All day)

LA Arts Convergence, Mitchell MaherNearly 200 arts advocates converged at The Music Center: Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County to discuss the state of the arts and its role in creating a vibrant community. 

Read this report in Spanish.

The event, which was held on Oct. 17, was presented by Arts for LA and co-hosted by The Music Center.

“As we leave here today, as we continue to keep pushing those boulders over those mountains, you gotta know that we are doing work and we are making progress inch by inch by inch,” said Danielle Brazell, executive director for Arts for LA.

The day began with welcoming remarks from Stephen Rountree, president and CEO of The Music Center. These were followed by an invocation by artist Tim Miller and a plenary which focused on new arts and culture opportunities in California and featured remarks from Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, chair of the California Arts Council and Josephine Ramirez, program director of arts for The James Irvine Foundation, Anthony Radich, executive director of The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), and Craig Watson, director of the California Arts Council.  

LA Arts Convergence, Mitchell MaherThe plenary was moderated by Laura Zucker, executive director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. 

Attendees then divided into three issue-specific breakout sessions: arts education, creative economy, and civic engagement.  Each of the breakout sessions aimed to answer a specific question. 

Those that attended the arts education session attempted to answer: “How can equity and access to arts education be achieved for all students attending public school in Los Angeles County?”

“Principals are begging for (arts) education,” said Sophie Fanelli, director of research and policy for UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA), a panelist at the arts education session. 

Other panelists at the arts education session included Ayanna Hudson, director of Arts for All/Arts Education for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Cynthia Campoy Brophy, executive director for The HeArt Project, and Steve Zimmer, board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District. 

This session was moderated by Joe Landon, executive director of the California Alliance for Arts Education.

“What is the relationship between the commercial and nonprofit sectors within the creative economy?” was the question panelists and guests at the creative economy session tried to answer.

LA Arts Convergence, Mitchell Maher“If you walk away with anything today, one of my walking away points was ‘What is going on inside your own organization that may cause you to have to change the way people think?’” said Charmaine Jefferson, executive director for The California African American Museum and panelist at the session.

She was joined by Michael McDowell, senior director for cultural tourism at LA INC.: The  Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, Samuel Hoi, president at Otis College of Arts and Design, and Michael Kelly, executive director at the Los Angeles Coalition.

The third breakout session, which centered on civic engagement and was moderated by Jan Williamson, executive director for the 18th Street Arts Center, strived to answer: “What is the role of arts providers and other partners in creating healthy communities?”

“You have to liberate people from the idea of ‘art’ and the baggage that the word carries before you can talk to them about it,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, director of the Culture, Creativity and Communities Program at The Urban Institute and panelist at the session.

The civic engagement breakout session had the largest group of panelists which included Beatriz Maria Solis, director of Healthy Communities for the South Region, Mike Blockstein, principal at Public Matters, LLC, Juan Devis, director of production and program development at KCET Public Media, Sushma Raman, president of Southern California Grantmakers and John Kim, co-director of the Advancement Project.

All of the seats available at each breakout session were filled as arts and culture enthusiasts gathered to discuss arts issues.

LA Arts Convergence, Mitchell MaherThe event concluded with a luncheon and keynote address by Mark Landsman, arts advocate and producer as well as director of “Thunder Soul,” a film presented by Jamie Foxx about the alumni from Kashmere High School Stage Band in Houston who return to play tribute to their band leader, Conrad Johnson, who broke the color barrier and turned his band into a successful jazz band in the 1970’s.  

In his keynote address Landsman told Johnson’s story and his experience in making the film.

“This is the legacy of Conrad Johnson and those like him past, present and hopefully future,” said Landsman. “This is the legacy of everyone in this room. It is my hope that this story and others like it will fuel your advocacy and help make a strong and irrefutable case for quality music and arts education in every public school in this country.”  

Arts for LA thanks the attendees and presenters, who included City Council deputies, artists, School Board members, organizational representatives, educators, nonprofit leaders and representatives from the business community.

Reporting by Juana Esquivel, Arts for LA Communications Intern


Photos by MB Maher for Arts for LA

Arts for LA thanks the Music Center: Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County for co-hosting the event.  The 2011 LA Convergence was supported by generous funding from The Boeing Company, the California Community Foundation, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the James Irvine Foundation Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.