Arts nonprofits in Los Angeles County are expected to benefit from a record $38.5 million pandemic recovery fund, the result of an unprecedented collaboration between Los Angeles-based and national philanthropic organizations.
The L.A. Arts Recovery Fund pools contributions from more than a dozen funders to provide multi-year operating support for small and medium-sized arts organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic — those with smaller budgets that play vital roles in their communities.
Initiated by the J. Paul Getty Trust and administered by the California Community Foundation, a longtime collaborator in supporting the arts in L.A., the fund quickly attracted local and national funders who recognized the unique L.A. arts ecosystem and its relevance worldwide.
The fund also supports organizations with access to technical assistance and capacity-building. Donors are asked to join the effort to increase the pool to a goal of $50 million.
“Los Angeles’ arts organizations embody the diverse cultures of our region and are critical to making us one of the most vibrant, innovative, and collaborative arts communities in the nation,” said Joan Weinstein, director of the Getty Foundation, an operating program of the Getty Trust. “By organizing the L.A. Arts Recovery Fund, we’re mirroring their commitment to collaboration, coming together to provide what we hope will be meaningful support at a time when the very existence of these organizations is threatened. In the process, we hope to help create a more equitable and inclusive arts sector for the future.”
Supporters include The Ahmanson Foundation, Vladimir & Araxia Buckhantz Foundation, California Community Foundation, Ford Theatre Foundation/L.A. County Department of Arts and Culture, J. Paul Getty Trust, Jerry and Terri Kohl, Robert Lovelace and Alicia Miñana, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Music Man Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Perenchio Foundation, Snap Foundation, and Sony Pictures Entertainment & Sony Global Relief Fund.
The fund includes a challenge grant from the Ford Foundation’s “America’s Cultural Treasures” initiative, designed to support Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous arts organizations in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to acknowledge and honor the diversity of artistic expression in America.
L.A. County’s nonprofit arts organizations, along with the region’s artists, are powerful contributors to the local creative economy, which generates more than $203 billion annually. One of every seven jobs in Los Angeles is in a creative field, according to the 2020 Otis Report on the Creative Economy.
Yet the pandemic has taken a toll on arts and cultural nonprofits.
Surveys by Americans for the Arts show that almost half of L.A. County arts nonprofits have dipped into financial reserves and one-third have laid off or furloughed staff. One in seven say they are not confident their organization will survive the impacts of COVID-19.
“This is a defining moment for Los Angeles. Our region runs on creativity, and all the arts are interconnected,” said Wendy Garen, president and chief executive officer of The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. “The L.A. Arts Recovery Fund represents a down payment on the robust arts community we need, now and after the pandemic. Investing in our community’s cultural and arts organizations today is an investment in a more resilient economy and vital future for the entire region.”
The pandemic has magnified pre-existing financial and structural challenges experienced by arts nonprofits. On average, arts organizations hold fewer than four months of operating cash reserves.
Such budget constraints, combined with an unclear picture of how and when cultural institutions will re-open, and under what conditions larger gatherings will be safely permitted, have exposed the financial fragility of this critical part of L.A.’s nonprofit sector. Further, inequities in arts funding in the U.S., particularly among small to medium-sized organizations and those that serve diverse communities, add to the financial stresses experienced by arts leaders.
“The arts are vital to the wellbeing of our communities and our region’s recovery in this pivotal moment, but our cultural sector cannot fulfill that mission without additional support,” said Kristin Sakoda, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture. “Driven by a public-private partnership, collective philanthropic effort, and a commitment to arts organizations that reflect our diverse cultures and communities, the L.A. Arts Recovery Fund will fortify nonprofits within our cultural ecology so they can fulfill their visions, now and into the future.”
Competitive grants will provide significant flexible operating support for a minimum of two years to organizations in L.A. County with annual operating budgets of $10 million and below prior to March 2020.
“The massive toll of the pandemic on LA’s arts sector demands an urgent response. LA-based funders launched this movement to support our arts organizations, but more help is needed,” said Antonia Hernandez, president and CEO of the California Community Foundation. “We need a broad-based coalition of philanthropy, public and private institutions, and community members to come together to meet this moment and mobilize for larger systemic solutions.”
Grant applications are available starting Tuesday here. Grant awards will be announced in May.
George Lucas’ Museum Acquires Archive For Iconic San Fernando Valley Mural
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, currently under construction in Exposition Park, announced the acquisition of the archive related to the iconic San Fernando Valley mural known as The Great Wall of Los Angeles.
“Star Wars” creator George Lucas’ museum acquired over 350 sketches and plans for the monumental mural The History of California created by Judith F. Baca.
Located in the Tujunga Wash, a flood control channel in Valley Glen, the half-mile-long artwork traces a history of California, from prehistory through the mid-20th century.
The mural depicts well-known historical narratives as well as often-overlooked events such as the displacement of Indigenous communities, the internment of Japanese American citizens, and the expulsion of Mexican Americans from Chavez Ravine. The artwork is epic in scale and was epochal in impact, representing an important shift in determining whose stories are told publicly and who gets to tell them.
“We are thrilled to house The History of California Archive. This monumental work by an iconic artist contributes to shaping a more inclusive view of life in the United States and California. This incredible repository uniquely positions the Lucas Museum to illustrate the significance of public murals to storytelling,” said Lucas Museum Director and CEO Sandra Jackson-Dumont in a statement.
The History of California Archive is as much a record of Baca’s community-oriented practice and commitment to public art as it is a document of the making of the landmark mural.
The archive houses more than 350 objects related to the mural’s development and execution, including blueprints, concept drawings, mural studies, site plans, sketches and notes and correspondence, according to the museum.
In developing the mural’s narrative and visual content, Baca had many collaborators, from scholars and historians to artists to community leaders and local youth, and the archive comprises the materials that Baca herself created out of these partnerships. In-depth holdings include detailed plans for the mural’s final 1,050 feet, which span the 1930s through the 1960s and chronicle industrialization, the Civil Rights movement, and the development of California culture, from the rise of Hollywood to early rock and roll.
“Judy Baca is one of the most important Los Angeles artists working today, and we are thrilled to bring this important archive of her work into our collection,” said Pilar Tompkins Rivas, the museum’s chief curator and deputy director of curatorial and collections in a statement. “The History of California is a key work in the history of mural making and public art as well as an important Los Angeles landmark. We hope the archive will inspire audiences to dig deeper into the storytelling power of murals and think about how their own stories may or may not fit into dominant narratives.”
To celebrate the acquisition, Judith F. Baca is set to join the Lucas Museum’s Sandra Jackson-Dumont and Pilar Tompkins Rivas for a free virtual public program, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, April 14, from 5 to 6 p.m.
For more information, and to register for the event, visit the Eventbrite page here.
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