The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture has announced that Carol Zou has been selected for a two-year residency as part of its Creative Strategist-Artist in Residence program. Zou will work with staff in the Community Centers division of the Department of Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services to develop new, multicultural, and intergenerational programming for County-operated community centers in the First Supervisorial District.
From its inception as a recommendation of the L.A. County Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, the innovative Creative Strategist program has explored how arts-based strategies can be used to solve complex civic challenges and make government more equitable. Arts and Culture pairs a creative strategist with a County Department to bring arts-based thinking, methodologies, projects, and approaches to address an issue of equity in partnership with staff. As it advances the cross-sector role of the arts; inter-departmental collaboration; and diversity, equity, and inclusion, the program supports the goals of the Countywide Cultural Policy, which calls for L.A. County and all its departments to ensure every resident has meaningful access to arts and culture.
The goal for the WDACS residency is to develop and pilot a wide range of performing, visual, and participatory all-ages arts programming that represents and engages the diverse individuals served by the community centers in the County’s First District and that can later be replicated at centers across the County. The residency will address goals of the Purposeful Aging Los Angeles Initiative, which, through the participation of Arts and Culture in the planning process, identified goals to expand intergenerational social opportunities and expand programming and participation in the arts to decrease social isolation among older adults. Studies show that participatory engagement activities with professional artists can combat social isolation, reduce doctor’s visits, increase mastery of a skill, and support wellbeing for older adults.
“Carol is an artist, writer, and educator who knows how to connect with people, inspire joy, and create projects that promote belonging and identity in communities. I am excited to launch the first residency we’ve had that will include a focus on creative aging for older adults. Intergenerational and cultural exchange can increase social cohesion, address bias, and shift the narrative on what it means to be ‘old’ or ‘young.’ The Creative Strategist program will bring that power into the service sector and I applaud our colleagues at WDACS for seeking to explore programming through a new, creative lens,” said Kristin Sakoda, director of the Department of Arts and Culture. “We hope this residency will seed new programs that can be scaled across the County.”
“Our Community and Senior Centers have long worked with local communities to celebrate their cultural and artistic identity through grassroots efforts. The creative strategist is integral to achieving our vision of integrating culture, equity, and the arts into intergenerational programming at our Centers. We are thrilled to have Carol Zou join our team and are extremely grateful for this partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture,” said Otto Solórzano, Acting Director of WDACS.
“Art bridges language barriers and spans generations, making it uniquely suited to a richly diverse place like the County of Los Angeles. I look forward to learning how this work will enrich the experiences and lives of those who participate in the programming offered throughout our community and senior centers,” said Dr. Laura Trejo, Executive Director of Aging and Community Services.
“I am honored to be part of the excellent group of creative strategists who are thinking deeply about how to use arts and culture to shift conversations on mental health, voting, transportation, re-entry and more,” said Zou. “I am looking forward to working with WDACS to explore vital themes of intergenerational and cultural connection.”
Zou has collaborated with a range of government, nonprofit, and art organizations, including Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, Michelada Think Tank, Trans.lation Vickery Meadow, Project Row Houses with the University of Houston, Asian Arts Initiative, American Monument, Imagining America, US Department of Arts and Culture, Spa Embassy, Enterprise Community Partners with Little Tokyo Service Center, and The Hive.
About the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture
The mission of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture is to advance arts, culture, and creativity throughout Los Angeles County. It provides leadership, services, and support in areas including grants and technical assistance for nonprofit organizations, countywide arts education initiatives, commissioning and care for civic art collections, research and evaluation, access to creative career pathways, professional development, free community programs, and cross-sector creative strategies that address civic issues. Visit LACountyArts.org.
About Workforce Development, Aging & Community Services
The mission of Workforce Development, Aging & Community Services (WDACS) is to deliver caring services that empower people, communities, and businesses to grow, succeed, and thrive. Los Angeles County Community and Senior Centers offer a wide range of services and provide opportunities for daily learning, skills enhancement, community engagement, socialization, and healthy living for residents of all ages.
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