(Above) "Grow, But Never Grow Up" by Nate Frizzell.
Los Angeles County Adopts First of Its Kind Cultural Policy
A Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative Recommendation, the Policy is a Road Map to Provide Meaningful Access to Arts and Culture for Every Resident
Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture has announced the adoption of the Countywide Cultural Policy by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, a county cultural policy that is the first of its kind in the nation. Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis introduced a motion, co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, to adopt the policy at the June 23, 2020 Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting.
The Cultural Policy provides direction and guidelines for how Los Angeles County and its departments will ensure that every resident of LA County has meaningful access to arts and culture. The intent of the policy is to foster an organizational culture that values and celebrates arts, culture, and creativity; strengthens cultural equity and inclusion; and integrates arts and culture in LA County strategies to achieve the highest potential of communities and constituents across all aspects of civic life.
The Cultural Policy calls for not only the Department of Arts and Culture but all LA County departments to strive to operate in a manner that supports cultural equity and ensures that all individuals and communities can participate fully and equitably in cultural life through the arts. County commissions, agencies and authorities, municipalities, and private sector partners are also encouraged to incorporate the principles of this policy.
In good times and in bad, the arts provide us the clearest window into the human experience. Equity is at the heart of Los Angeles County’s efforts to embrace and empower the voices of our local artists. Only they can unify and heal us at this critical moment through their artistic storytelling. Arts and culture play a critical role in the economic and social resiliency of LA County, not just in our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest, but also in the long-term health and vitality of our community, said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.
By adopting the Countywide Cultural Policy, LA County prioritizes equity in the arts and recognizes that cultural inclusion is vital to the health and well-being of our communities.
The arts have the power to provide joy, solace, and healing, said Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.
This policy provides guidelines to make sure that every resident in this diverse county has meaningful access to that joyous healing power.
Everyone has the right to participate fully in the cultural life of their community, to enjoy the arts and to benefit from them, said Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture Director Kristin Sakoda.
Arts and culture have a role to play in addressing complex issues and supporting inclusion across sectors of our civic lives, from education, youth development, justice, and workforce to infrastructure, neighborhood revitalization, economy, health, well-being, and more. Investing in the arts is investing in our communities—now is a time to expand the ways we do that with a view to cultural equity.
In my role leading the County’s Economic Resiliency Task Force Arts and Culture Workgroup, I heard from many of the region’s arts organizations and they are reeling from the impact of this pandemic, said Los Angeles County Arts Commissioner and Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative Advisory Committee co-Chair Tim Dang.
The arts are not a luxury; they are embedded in the very fabric of our lives. Artists and creative workers are uniquely situated to help us imagine our future post-pandemic. I thank my fellow CEII co-chairs, Helen Hernandez and Maria Rosario Jackson; the CEII Advisory Committee; the Economic Resiliency Task Force Arts and Culture Workgroup; my colleagues on the Arts Commission; the Department of Arts and Culture; and the Board of Supervisors for their visionary leadership in championing the arts.
As a longtime member of the Arts Commission, I am thrilled to see this milestone in the County’s work to advance arts, culture, and creativity for all, said Arts Commission President Eric Hanks.
In June 2017, after an 18-month public process, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Sheila Kuehl to fund five of the thirteen recommendations included in the LA County Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative (CEII) report. One of those recommendations was to establish a Countywide Cultural Policy rooted in equity, diversity, inclusion, and access that would advance the gains made through the CEII process and would serve as a road map for how all LA County departments can contribute to cultural life for the residents of the region.
To ensure that the Cultural Policy represents the needs and opportunities inherent to LA County, the Department of Arts and Culture sought input from hundreds of community stakeholders and partners, as well as national policy experts. Arts and Culture staff documented and integrated stakeholder feedback, leveraged concurrent stakeholder engagement activities, and worked closely with the Board and County Departments to draft the Cultural Policy.
In this inaugural year of the newly established Department of Arts and Culture, the adoption of the Cultural Policy is another milestone in the County’s support of the arts. Arts and Culture will provide leadership, accountability, and coordination to support implementation and ensure arts and culture are utilized in the pursuit of the policy’s goals.