Education, Arts & Culture

Providing Opportunities for Local Artists

The Music Center will launch a new digital series called For the Love of L.A., designed to celebrate the creativity of Los Angeles and support L.A.-based artists representing the disciplines of music, dance, visual culture and more. Featured on both The Music Center’s social channels and The Music Center Offstage—the organization’s virtual platform offering newly curated programming including the commission and presentation of original artwork—For the Love of L.A. will provide more than 35 L.A. artists with a platform to express their views of Los Angeles that are relevant and reflective of the current time through video (e.g. documentation of a performance), photography (e.g. art photography, photo essay or documentation of another visual artform) and creative writing. The Music Center partnered with numerous long-time partners from the L.A. arts and culture community to serve as guest curators, who each identified local artists and then worked with them to create original work for the program.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas marches with the Centennial High School Marching Band from Compton in front of The Music Center. File photo.

The Music Center will post up to three new works of art on The Music Center’s Instagram every Tuesday from August 11, 2020–October 27, 2020, showcasing more than 35 individual works over the 13-week period. The public can get a closer look at each artist through biographies and statements alongside the complete version of the artwork in a digital library on The Music Center Offstage. In addition, the initiative also aims to inspire the public to engage and participate directly by contributing their own For the Love of L.A. creative endeavors and projects; some audience-generated content may be selected and shared in the arts organization’s social channels.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to see how the Music Center has chosen this gift for Los Angeles that celebrates community and creativity as reflected in the individual works that will be showcased over the 13-week period,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Arts are a vital part of the engagement, education, and empowerment that builds community every day here in Los Angeles County.”

“While the challenges of the times we are in make it difficult to connect with each other in a meaningful way, The Music Center remains committed to its vision of deepening the cultural lives of all in Los Angeles by offering programs that help create those connections through the power of the arts,” said Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO, The Music Center. “For the Love of L.A. will not only showcase the creativity and resiliency of artists and community members from across the County in the present, but also provide a time capsule that will document this moment through art. We’ll be able to reflect on what was in our hearts and minds and know we were able to lift each other up through creative expression and cultural participation.”

For the Love of L.A. will highlight the broad and expansive array of Angeleno creativity across diverse disciplines and geographies,” said Josephine Ramirez, executive vice president, TMC Arts. “In addition to presenting new works by professional artists, we hope that members of the L.A. community, from all ages and corners of the County, will join us in a collective effort to express ourselves in ways that spark joy, share a

perspective on the times and reflect and shape the world.”

The Music Center will introduce For the Love of L.A. with artists selected by guest curator, Marvella Muro, director of programs for Self Help Graphics & Art. The first three works include a five minute-collage of photos, poetry and music by photographer Rafael Cardenas that encapsulates the current moment of social distancing and political uprising; Cardenas’ work is set to a score by Eddika Edule Organista and features poetry by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Joshua Evans, Féi Hernandez, Jenise Miller, and Jasmine Williams. Visual artist Yaneli Delgado highlights some of the Black, Brown and Asian communities she wants audiences to know through her screen printing, and painter Manuel López turns his landscape drawing of an East Los Angeles neighborhood into a contemplative experience, using sound and animation.

For the Love of L.A. guest curators also include Ed Barguiarena (musician/composer/producer); Raélle Dorfan (executive director, Dance Resource Center); Karen Mack (founder/executive director, LA Commons); Lottie Rippon (events and special projects, DUBLAB) in collaboration with Max Rippon and Kate Emery (co- founders, Quarantine Gallery); and Dexter Story (multi-instrumentalist/composer/producer).

After the initial launch, additional original visual arts contributions will include a photo essay by photographer Stephanie Mei-Ling and painting by artist Amani Holbert; musical performances by Ethiopian musicians Kibrom Birhane and Etsegenet Mekonnen, DJ/musician/composer Mark de Clive-Lowe and Brazilian jazz vocalist Thalma de Freitas; as well as musical performance and visual art collaborations between vocalist San Cha and Maria Maea. Additional guest curators and artists to be announced. *All artists are subject to change.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas Introduces Urgency Motion to Ensure Fair and Accurate Census Count

In response to yesterday’s unanticipated announcement that the 2020 United States Census  (Census) data collection deadline will now be shortened by more than a month, to September 30, 2020, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced an urgency motion at the Board of Supervisors meeting for immediate action to be taken to elevate the concerns of LA County to ensure a fair and accurate Census count.

Specifically, the motion directs the LA County Chief Executive Officer to send a 5-signature letter to the United State Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census (Bureau) and United States Congressional leadership expressing these concerns. It also directs County Counsel to monitor the Bureau’s guidance with data collection timelines and to file or join litigation in opposing the Bureau’s decision.

“One of the most important rights we have is our hard-won right to vote, a right integral to our democracy and directly related to the results of the Census. So we must make sure that we stand up for all to be counted,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “To be undercounted is to be underrepresented and to be underrepresented is to be under-funded—we cannot lose sight of what this means for LA County.”

On August 3rd, Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced that the Census would conclude Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) and in-person interviews on September 30th, instead of October 31st. This announcement came as a shock to local governments as the October deadline set for data collection was determined in April 2020 by the Bureau. This date was previously extended due to the persistent challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the data collection period is now being shortened for reasons unknown.

A complete and accurate Census count is crucial to allocating over $675 billion in federal government resources for residents in the United States. LA County’s vast and diverse constituency has historically been difficult to measure with many hard-to-reach populations, including people experiencing homelessness. Therefore, prudent action must be taken to ensure all residents are equally represented in all levels of government, which also impacts the adjustment of electoral districts.

“The County of Los Angeles is one of the hardest-to-count areas in the United States and we need to ensure that all of our residents are counted in the 2020 Census. Our diverse community deserves an accurate count to improve the quality of life for all residents,” said Koreatown Youth and Community Center Executive Director Johng Ho Song.

“When it comes to the Census, South LA’s numbers are extremely important to the County. The County of Los Angeles’s count is extremely important for the State of CA. When LA goes undercounted, the entire state loses—funding, representation and resources,” added Community Coalition President and CEO Alberto Retana. “That is why Community Coalition has been working so hard to encourage residents to participate in the 2020 Census. It gives us the chance to strengthen our public health infrastructure, the lack of which is being exposed by COVID-19 right now. Taking the Census is another way we can step up for each other, and our communities, during this pandemic.”

This shortened Census timeline follows a recent presidential memorandum excluding non-citizens from Census allotment, presenting more barriers for the fair allocation and equitable representation for Angelenos and United States residents.

Coronavirus Recession Inspires Unprecedented Commitment to LA County Arts Funding

Photo courtesy of 2019-20 LA County Organizational Grant Program grantee, LA Music and Art School.

As the coronavirus continued to curtail the regional economy, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced a motion to provide an additional $3.6-million for arts organizations.  On the heels of a historic antiracism motion, this motion addresses systemic inequities in the arts. Co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and approved by the Board of Supervisors, the motion will expand the Organizational Grant Program through additional funding for arts organizations during one of the most challenging economic environments of the twenty-first century.

“The Organizational Grants Program has been a key part of the County’s efforts to provide underserved communities more equitable access to the rich and diverse arts opportunities that Los Angeles County has to offer,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “This critical investment will boost the recovery of the region’s creative economy and help ensure that all of Los Angeles County’s residents share in the invaluable benefits of the arts.”

“The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have deeply affected arts organizations in many of the same ways as other commercial businesses,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “With this motion, we are finding ways to continue to provide support to our local arts nonprofits and making sure that the healing power of the arts continues to be available to County residents in these troubled and stressful times.”

Despite several years of strong growth, the pandemic and resulting economic downturn has negatively impacted many arts organizations. A survey by Americans for the Arts finds that 29 percent of the County’s non-profit arts organizations are “extremely likely” to make temporary or permanent reductions in staff; and 33 percent expect the financial impact of the pandemic to be “extremely severe.” A substantial percentage of the County’s arts organizations are in danger of permanently closing, leaving the long-term health of this sector in doubt and setting back hard-earned progress in making arts opportunities more accessible to disadvantaged communities.

“The Los Angeles region’s arts and culture sector is facing an unprecedented set of challenges right now. At the same time, the sustainability of our arts organizations is critical to the recovery, health, and wellbeing of the diverse communities that we reflect and serve,” said Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture Director Kristin Sakoda, who recently announced the department had been recognized with four Achievement Awards from the National Association of Counties. “If funded, this motion will be the first major grants increase to the incredible array of LA County arts organizations in over a decade, and it advances another recommendation of the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, a significant achievement. I am grateful for the leadership and vision of the Board of Supervisors in recognizing the vital role of our County’s arts and culture organizations.”

Photo courtesy of Lula Washington Dance Theatre.

“The Lula Washington Dance Theatre strongly supports the motion by County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl to increase funding for the County Department of Arts and Culture’s Organizational Grant Program,” said Lula Washington Dance Theatre Executive Director Erwin Washington. “The added funding will give arts organizations more support to rehire laid off workers and to bring great arts programming back to the County.”

“For the Korean American Music Foundation, the Organizational Grants Program has helped our youth orchestra meet its financial obligations the past few years, serving the local community through the two to three concerts that we put on annually.  We strongly recommend that the Organizational Grant Program continues to grow and sustain the local youth and arts community, and as we’ve seen through the recent COVID-19 and civil rights unrest, we can truly see and appreciate that music does heal. Music can unite and get us through all the tough times,” said Korean American Music Foundation General Manager Gene Kam.

Photo courtesy of Contra-Tiempo, a multi-lingual dance company, and a grantee of Los Angeles County.

“As a longtime grantee of the County, we’re excited to hear of the Board of Supervisors’ continued support for artists and a more equitable and just distribution of this support across the county,” said Contra-Tiempo Founding Artistic Director Ana María Alvarez. “In a time of much uncertainty there is one thing that is clear—artists and arts organizations are actively envisioning and creating a future filled with more love, equity, justice and hope. It’s inspiring to know that the board is committed to supporting this future for Los Angeles.”

According to the motion, the County cannot afford the cultural and economic consequences of allowing community arts organizations to close their doors. As a critical part of the region’s economy, demonstrated by several years of substantial growth of the creative sector, and as a provider of arts and culture programs to underserved communities, these organizations are a key part of the solution to the current crises facing residents of the County.

The 2020 Otis Report on the Creative Economy finds that nearly 1 out of 5 jobs in Los Angeles County supported by the arts and creative economy with $67 billion in labor income and $203 billion in total creative economy output.

“The importance of the Arts and the Creative Economy as a source of job creation cannot be understated—it represents one of our greatest opportunities for the future,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “So this is not only an investment in the individuals working at arts organizations, this is a prudent investment in the future of our creative economy and the regional economic forecast at large.”

(Left to Right) Jeffrey Perkins of Otis College, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mei-Lee Ney of Otis College, Amir Whitaker of the ACLU, Otis College Student Juan Carlos Cruz, Foshay Learning Center Student Alysha Boone, Otis College Student Daisy Rosas, and Beacon Economics’ Adam Fowler at the Mark Taper Auditorium for the release of the 2020 Otis Report.

LA County to Support Litigation Efforts to Protect DACA Dreamers

In response to the Department of Homeland Security’s recently released memorandum attacking the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, the Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to join in litigation, or to file an amicus brief supporting California’s lawsuit, challenging the federal government’s actions to rescind DACA. As a way to help protect the thousands of undocumented families that are without legal protection, the Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, seeks to urge other attorney generals to send letters encouraging the President to maintain the DACA initiative. This motion will direct LA County to support these efforts.

“Now, more than ever, we must be resolved to keep fighting on behalf of our immigrant communities, especially in the face of an administration that has continually attacked a community that is so vital to every facet of our country,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “Those who have relied on DACA for their livelihood and peace of mind need our help. The contributions DACA recipients are making to our nation and county are immeasurable. The economic and human stakes are too high—they deserve and will have our continued support.”

Established by President Obama in 2012, DACA allows more than 700,000 immigrants to live and work in the United States legally even if they are undocumented. The program enables non-U.S. citizens who came to the U.S. as children and who meet several key guidelines, to remain in the country for two years. Recipients of the program are eligible for work authorization and other benefits and are shielded from possible deportation. Youth impacted by DACA are often referred to as “Dreamers.”

“As our friends, colleagues, and members of our families, DREAMers play a defining role in the L.A. County’s rich civic, cultural, and economic life,” said L.A. County Office of Immigrant Affairs Executive Director Rigoberto Reyes. “Our Office exists to help them and their families get access to available wraparound County services so they can continue investing their talent and effort to making our L.A. County the great home it is for us all.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, the Trump Administration has indicated that it will once again attempt to revoke the initiative. In the memorandum issued on July 28, 2020, calls for a rejection of all initial requests for DACA program recipients and all pending and future applications for advance parole absent exceptional circumstances, and to shorten DACA program renewals to one-year periods.

UCLA Labor Center Director, Kent Wong had this to say about the motion. “I wholeheartedly support the proposal before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to file an amicus brief in support of the continuation of DACA. DACA has benefited 800,000 immigrant youth throughout the country, including tens of thousands of Los Angeles county residents.  DACA recipients continue to contribute immensely to our society, to our economy, and many are on the frontlines of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Trump administration’s attack on DACA is immoral, unprincipled, and motivated by racial animus and political opportunism. Los Angeles celebrates the rich immigrant tradition that has made vast contributions to our communities over the generations, and we embrace the efforts to advance immigrant integration and to remove the structural barriers preventing immigrants from fully participating in our society.”

On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration initiated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, providing temporary forbearance of removal and work authorization eligibility for undocumented immigrants who entered the United States (U.S.) as children. Since its inception, the DACA program has protected nearly 800,000 individuals, including tens of thousands of immigrants in Los Angeles County (County), from deportation. Donald Trump first attempted to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September 2017, a move that would have stripped its beneficiaries of work permits and subjected them to deportation. Recognizing the countless contributions that DACA program recipients have made to their communities, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that the Trump Administration’s attempted rescission of the DACA program was unlawful.

“The County is committed to advancing the well-being of the thousands of DREAMers who call L.A. County their only home,” said Joseph M. Nicchitta, Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. “We partner in this effort with the County’s Board of Supervisors and my colleagues countywide to provide DREAMers with equitable access to support services to better their lives, whether they are business owners, workers, tenants, or consumers.”


Massive Youth Complex in Carson To Start Construction this Year

Tiger Woods, USTA, Disney, Leading Philanthropists, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas Team Up to Build the Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus Focused on Education Equity and Sports Access; Phase 1 Construction to Begin Later This Year

Tiger Woods’ TGR Foundation, the United States Tennis Association (USTA), The Walt Disney Company, philanthropist Doug Kimmelman and the Karsh Family Foundation have committed $50 million toward the nation’s largest academic and athletic complex dedicated to expanding opportunities for at-risk youth and fostering social equity in the heart of the Los Angeles region.

The Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus will be a world-class, 87-acre public campus focused on high-caliber educational enrichment and athletic programs to help young people fulfill their full potential in the classroom and on the court or playing field. Construction on the initial phase of the project, estimated at $65 million, is slated to begin by the end of the year and will include a 25,000 square foot learning center and expansive tennis facility with 40 courts, with additional athletic facilities to follow.

The TGR Foundation and the USTA Foundation will oversee youth programming, which will be made available at little or no cost to low-income families.

“The need to invest in the futures of underserved kids has never felt more urgent,” said Tiger Woods, whose TGR Foundation has a 20-year track record empowering students to pursue their passions through education. “We have a unique opportunity to do something impactful right now that will create lasting positive change for generations.”

The “shovel-ready” project is located in Carson – a community south of downtown Los Angeles neighbored by traditionally underserved areas including Compton, Watts and Inglewood. The project is already designed and approved for development by the County Board of Supervisors, which formed the unique public-private partnership under the leadership of Supervisor Mark Ridley- Thomas. The County is making the land available through a long-term lease of $100 a year, allowing donations to the Kimmelman Campus to be used exclusively to build and run the facilities, programs, and services.

“From the moment I heard about this project, I was proud to embrace the bold vision and help bring it to fruition,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who represents the area. “Now more than ever, our young people need and deserve the investment in their future that this monumental project represents. Whether on the courts, or in a learning lab, lives will undoubtedly be transformed at the Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus.”

A focal point of the new complex is a state-of-the-art STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) after-school and TGR Foundation that will complement the curriculum at area public schools. Utilizing high-tech equipment and labs, the hands-on lessons are modeled after the foundation’s award-winning program focused on preparing students for college and success in the 21st century workforce.

The Kimmelman Campus will be the largest community tennis facility on the West Coast. The USTA Foundation will make it the regional hub of its flagship National Junior Tennis & Learning program (NJTL), significantly expanding capacity for the USTA and its affiliates to provide low-cost or no cost athletic development, wellness, academic and scholarship programs to local youth. The campus will also serve as the headquarters for the USTA Southern California section, which will provide additional tennis programming in the form of junior and adult tournaments, college tennis, as well as wheelchair and adaptive tennis.

Tiger Woods, Doug Kimmelman and Chris Evert

The campus on its own will increase outdoor green space in Carson by 61 percent. Future phases of the project will include several full-size soccer fields and other athletic facilities, such as basketball courts, track and field, and fitness and play areas for community use.

“There is an urgent need for resources to support kids and help them thrive, and this project delivers at a scale that will have a transformative impact throughout the region,” said Chris Evert, the former world No. 1 tennis player who is the chair of the USTA Foundation’s Board of Directors. “I am eager to deepen our commitment in Los Angeles to bringing tennis and education together to change lives.”

The project has raised $50 million total to date from its founding partners – the Kimmelman Family Foundation, USTA Foundation and TGR Foundation – combined with major donations from Disney, the Karsh Family Foundation, and AEG. It also received in-kind gifts of $5 million and secured funding to cover yearly operating costs. This leaves a $15 million gap for the first phase, which will begin construction in 2020 and allow the facilities to begin serving young people and families in 2021. Subsequent phases will cost $60 million, for which fundraising will begin next year.

“At a time when we’re having an important national conversation about deep-seated inequities and a history of underinvestment in communities of color, we have a project that is ready to give underserved children the quality education, resources and opportunities they need to prepare for college and life,” said Kimmelman, who is spearheading the effort in honor of his late wife who taught elementary school in South Los Angeles and passed away three years ago from ovarian cancer.

Carol Kimmelman taught at Raymond Avenue Elementary School – across the street from the flashpoint of the 1992 civil unrest in South LA. She was also a member of the 1983 national champion USC women’s tennis team and fervent believer in the power of tennis and other sports to transform the lives of young people from all backgrounds.