(Above) Coniuncti (interconnected) Interconectado by the De La Torre Brothers at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.
Four years ago, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed the LA County Department of Arts and Culture to conduct "a constructive County-wide conversation about ways to improve diversity in cultural organizations" for all LA County residents. The conversation that unfolded was built on community voices and input, and in 2017, we released the Cultural Equity & Inclusion Initiative (CEII).
As the Department of Arts and Culture, our vision is to see LA county as a region where arts, culture, and creativity are integral to all aspects of civic life for all people and communities, and our charge is to develop programs and policies relating to arts and culture, with support such as grants, arts education, career pathways, training, civic art, and research and evaluation. Fostering cultural equity and inclusion is core to this charge.
The pursuit of cultural equity and inclusion means bringing about a time when all artistic and cultural practices and all communities are supported equitably. It means acknowledging the need for racial equity, as well as the need to recognize intersectionality and the complexities of our humanity, including LGBTQ, disability, gender, race and ethnicity, national origin, age and other aspects of identity.
This work takes time, persistence, humility, and intention. In a process of continual improvement we are building on our work in cultural equity all the time. To this end, we have been making progress implementing CEII, building cross-sector collaborations, supporting professional development in the cultural field, and working on our own internal capacity for diversity, equity, and inclusion as a department. This work also does not happen alone, so we thank our colleagues in the CEII Advisory Committee and our Arts Commission. Some examples of our efforts are in the link below. We look forward to continuing this conversation, and this progress, with you.
Implementing the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative
CEII included 13 actionable recommendations to further greater diversity, equity, inclusion and access to the cultural ecology. The Board of Supervisors funded and directed implementation of six recommendations. The Department of Arts and Culture continues this progress. In the last two years, we have:
This year, a record 203 college students worked in paid full-time positions at nonprofit arts organizations all over the County. Special emphasis was placed on recruiting students from our local community colleges. Since the launch of CEII, the number of participating community college students has increased fourfold.
2020 also marks the 20th anniversary of the program!
Beyond The Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative
In 2018, Arts and Culture was named one of 32 members of the Art for Justice Fund's national cohort in support of our Arts and Youth Development Project—a project whose aim is to provide arts-based programs and services for those impacted—or at risk of becoming impacted—by the criminal justice system.
Supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Cultural Field
Increasing our Internal Capacity for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Cultural equity and inclusion are not only an initiative, they are values and practices we strive to embed in our work across all program areas of our department. We work within and beyond the four corners of the CEII report and recommendations.