Report and Documentary Highlight Benefits of Artworks for Civic Engagement

Four Projects in South LA Represent Shift Towards “Art As Infrastructure”

LA County Arts Commission Civic Art Program began the Creative Graffiti Abatement Project at four sites in South LA County—A.C. Bilbrew Library, East Rancho Dominguez Park, Victoria Park and Woodcrest Library. The project’s aim was to use a combination of physical artwork and community engagement to both increase community involvement at the project site and to reduce graffiti vandalism. Throughout the four year project an embedded evaluator documented the implementation and recorded project results, combining them into a report, “Art as Infrastructure: An Evaluation of Civic Art and Public Engagement in Four Communities in South Los Angeles County,” which the Arts Commission releases today.

The report:

  • highlights the role of embedding meaningful activities in public art as an important aspect of government investment in the communities it serves
  • contains a detailed set of recommendations for public art commissioning agencies, arts organizations, artists and evaluators implementing similar projects
  • demonstrates how physical and social artworks in everyday spaces can contribute to community development and help to ensure that everyone has access to the benefits of arts and culture

The documentary, created by Mark Escribano and Sara Daleiden of s(o)ul, features work by artists Cocina Abierta Collective, Fausto Fernandez, Greenmeme, Swift Lee Office and Louise Griffin. “Civic Art: Four Stories from South Los Angeles” chronicles the development of each artwork and serves as a tool to demystify the process of creating permanent, large-scale art projects. The film highlights the potential of art development to engage civic leaders and community members while exploring the social power of art in four South LA County neighborhoods. In addition to producing the documentary, Sara Daleiden provided public engagement support for the entire project.

“This project shows that like libraries, parks and recreation centers, artwork can and should be understood as civic infrastructure,” said LA County Arts Commission Executive Director Kristin Sakoda. “Artwork is a meeting place for community events and activities, but it is also something for a community to take care of together, contributing to a sense of community ownership.”

To realize this project, the Arts Commission drew on its experience delivering arts-based solutions that enhance the value of civic spaces, securing grant funding to continue and expand its practice in this area, with the support of the Office of the Second Supervisorial District of LA County. The LA County Regional Parks and Open Space District, which funds the development and improvement of parks, recreational, cultural and community facilities and open spaces, approved the project in 2013.

For more information about the four project sites, to read the evaluation report and to watch the documentary, visit LACountyArts.org/civic-art-four-stories.

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission fosters excellence, diversity, vitality, understanding and accessibility of the arts in Los Angeles County. The Commission provides leadership in cultural services for the County, encompassing 88 municipalities, including funding and job opportunities, professional development and general resources. For more information, visit LACountyArts.org

###