The lack of diverse representation in Hollywood, Broadway, television and film has become a reoccurring issue with little to no work being done to remedy it. In response, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion, co-authored by arts advocates Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Sheila Kuehl that will reflect arts diversity throughout the county’s arts programming and create equal opportunities for everyone.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that all the benefits of, and opportunities provided by, the arts are available and accessible to all residents, no matter who they are or where they live,” said Supervisor Solis. “By moving forward on today’s recommendations detailed by the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, we are taking a firm stance on arts equality. Now that we know what can be done to ensure that the arts reaches everyone, we want to give communities an opportunity to express themselves in the language of their own artistic culture.”
In November 2015, Supervisor Solis and Ridley-Thomas co-authored a motion directing the L.A. County Arts Commission to conduct a constructive countywide conversation about ways to improve diversity in cultural organizations for all L.A. County residents. As a result, the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative (CEII) unfolded over the past 18 months.
The CEII process included an advisory committee comprised by a wide range of local experts such as Helen Hernandez, Tim Dang, and Maria Rosario Jackson. Perspectives, opinions and ideas were collected from the public through a series of town halls and working groups. Feedback from the public laid the groundwork for 13 recommendations detailing ways to improve diversity, cultural equity, and inclusion in the arts.
The motion approved by the Board today instructs the Arts Commission, pending funding allocations as part of the county’s budget process in June, to begin implementation of 4 of the following 13 recommendations; developing a county cultural policy, requiring cultural organizations that contract with the county to include statements or plans for cultural equity, creating access to work-based learning opportunities for teens and expansion of the arts internship program for community-college students
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl states “Los Angeles County is the largest and most diverse county in the country and a national leader in arts and culture, by adopting the recommendations in this motion, we are taking important steps to ensure that the cultural richness of this county is celebrated and accessible to all our residents.”
While all are not being implemented immediately, the recommendations create an important road map that can be travelled over the course of several years. “The widespread geography of the county creates many challenges to reaching into all LA County neighborhoods authentically,” said Laura Zucker, Executive Director of the Arts Commission. “In many communities, arts and culture is deeply rooted but commiserate resources are not available. The Board’s action is really about the democratization of culture.”