The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture has awarded more than $4.8 million in arts grants for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The awards fall into two programs in the department’s grants portfolio: $4,113,000 in two-year grants for 214 nonprofit arts organizations through the Organizational Grant Program and $750,000 for 64 Community Impact Arts Grants, one-year grants for arts programming at nonprofit social justice and social service organizations and municipal departments.
The OGP is the county’s flagship arts grant program and provides funding support to a diverse and inclusive ecology of arts nonprofits that span disciplines, from theater and dance to visual arts, media, and literary arts. It includes a full range of micro-budget to larger institutions and those with deep and culturally-rooted ties to the community, such as the Japanese American National Museum, the Skirball Cultural Center, Cornerstone Theatre Company, and the Pan African Film Festival.
The CIAG program takes a different tack, broadening the context in which the arts are accessed for county residents who may not experience arts and culture through traditional outlets. CIAG grants support arts programming at organizations such as Heart of Los Angeles Youth, Inc., Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Peace Over Violence, to name a few, that serve foster youth, homeless individuals, currently or formerly incarcerated individuals, individuals with disabilities, and low-income individuals, to increase the ways the arts are used to support social services and social justice missions.
Funding for both OGP and CIAG grant programs supports a wide variety of cultural services that reach Los Angeles County residents in ways that are distinct and complementary. Together, the programs expand the reach of cultural services provided to communities, particularly those that have been historically and systemically marginalized.
“Especially now, we must prioritize programs that serve the best interest of our communities,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. “I am so thankful we are able to provide funding to incredible nonprofit organizations during this critical time, which sustains their efforts to enrich and equip residents through valuable arts and culture opportunities.”
“This investment is a key part of the county’s efforts to aid the recovery of the LA region’s creative economy and ensure that underserved communities have more equitable access to rich and diverse arts opportunities and the many benefits that they provide,” said County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
“This year, we anticipate that Los Angeles County grantee organizations will use these funds in new ways as they adjust their operations and programming in light of the pandemic,” said L.A. County Department of Arts and Culture Director Kristin Sakoda.
“We know these grants provide a critical source of public support for nonprofit organizations that, in turn, enhance the wellbeing and vitality of the region through the arts,” Sakoda said. “We continue to be inspired by the resiliency of our grantees in the face of the events of the past few months in remaining steadfast to their missions and in delivering high-quality arts and culture content to the residents of the county.”
OGP grantees will receive awards that range from $2,300 to $113,700, depending on the needs and size of the organization. These awards are flexible—they can be used to support any number of current critical needs, from organizational infrastructure to programming.
Due to Los Angeles County Fiscal Year 2020-21 Budget reductions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-21 OGP budget reflects an 8.9% decrease ($405,000), in alignment with 8% across-the-board cuts for all county departments.
Recent motions to restore funding to Department of Arts and Culture’s programs in the county’s Supplemental Budget Phase include a motion by County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to restore funding cuts to the L.A. County Arts Internship Program and a motion by Ridley-Thomas, co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, that would increase the Organizational Grant Program budget by $3.6M over three years and would include $200,000 for technical and administrative support and an additional Department of Arts and Culture staff member.
Should this get funded in the Supplemental Budget Phase, this will be the first time in more than a decade that the OGP has received a budget increase.
Both motions support key recommendations of the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative (CEII) report, which was released in the spring of 2017. Thus far, six of 13 recommendations have been adopted by the County Board of Supervisors. The initiative recommendations seek to ensure that everyone in the county has equitable access to arts and culture, and improve inclusion in the wider arts ecology for all residents in every community. Funding an expansion of the OGP would be the seventh recommendation to be enacted.
In addition, on August 4, 2020, a motion introduced by County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl, and approved by the Board, addressing the release of CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds, set aside $135M for small business assistance programs, of which $10M will go to the Department of Arts and Culture to provide grants to Los Angeles County nonprofit arts organizations suffering from business interruption due to COVID-19-related closures.
“The recent slate of motions put forth by this Board of Supervisors illustrates a commitment to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to experience arts and culture,” said Eric Hanks, president of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. “I am honored to serve alongside my fellow Arts Commissioners, who are a hardworking and dedicated group, and to participate in supporting the region’s vibrant and diverse arts and creative sector.”
Applications for the OGP and CIAG programs were reviewed and scored by 68 expert panelists from the Los Angeles region’s robust community of cultural workers, artists, curators, nonprofit arts administrators, arts funders, and arts educators. Award recommendations were reviewed by the Arts Commission and approved by the Board of Supervisors.
Organization Grant Program
Since 1947, the Department of Arts and Culture (formerly the LA County Arts Commission) has provided funding for LA County arts and culture organizations that reflect the rich diversity of the region. In addition to direct funding, OGP grantees receive professional development and training opportunities, spanning from workshops addressing cultural and racial equity to grant writing and human resources. Of the 214 2020-21 OGP grantees—located in 56 of the County’s 88 municipalities—14 percent are receiving this funding for the first time. OGP grantee organizations encompass such disciplines as arts education, dance, literary, media arts, multidisciplinary, music, choral and opera, theater, traditional and folk art, and visual art. A complete list of OGP grantees can be found here.
Community Impact Arts Grant Program
The Community Impact Arts Grant (CIAG) program recognizes the value of the arts as a vital tool for cross-sector and civic problem solving across a range of issue areas. The program funds arts programming taking place at nonprofit social service and social justice organizations and municipal departments that supports their missions and enables these organizations to deliver a wide variety of cultural services to County residents. The 2020-21 Community Impact Arts Grant program will award $750,000 to 64 grantee organizations, in award amounts that range from $2,570 to $13,880. CIAG grantee organizations serve diverse communities in Los Angeles, often in areas where more than 25% of the population earns less than the federal poverty level. A complete list of CIAG grantees can be found here.
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 pathways, professional development, free community programs, and cross-sector creative strategies that address civic issues. For more information, visit LACountyarts.org.