The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, formerly the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, becomes an official, and new, County department. The agency’s longstanding work will continue uninterrupted, including grant funding for hundreds of nonprofit organizations throughout LA County; commissioning works of art for public facilities and managing the County’s civic art collection; implementing the initiatives of the LA County Arts Education Collective, which works to ensure all students in the County receive quality arts education; and researching and evaluating, then making accessible, findings in and about the local arts and culture sector.
Now, the newly established Department, abbreviated as Arts and Culture, will also elevate its work in building infrastructure and increasing access to career pathways in the creative economy; innovative cross-sector work and collaborations with County Departments (such as the Creative Strategist Artist in Residence program); and implementing the County’s Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, known as CEII, a cultural plan with a progressive suite of recommendations to strengthen diverse, equitable, and inclusive access to arts and culture for everyone in the County.
“Arts are essential to our humanity, and a key part of healthy vibrant communities,” said Kristin Sakoda, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture Executive Director. “Here in Los Angeles County, it is critical that the local arts and culture ecosystem be supported—from our formidable museums and presenters, to the small non-profits and the community initiatives—so we can ensure a thriving sector and creative local economy. As a County Department, we will be able to elevate and expand our work to reach more people, more deeply, increasing access to the arts and building cultural equity. We will advance arts, culture, and creativity advancing for everyone in the County.”
The LA County Arts Commission was established in in 1947 to support local music performances. Its role has grown to support diverse art forms and function as a full-service arts agency. Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl co-authored the historic motion that transitions the Arts Commission into a stand-alone County department in May 2018, a recognition of the vital role of arts and culture in one of the largest and most diverse counties in the country.
“In its previous iteration, the Arts Commission has been a small but mighty undertaking, excelling in its work to increase access to the arts, to innovate in areas of grant-making, and to create career pathways for people in underserved communities. As Los Angeles County’s creative economy grows ever more potent by the day, I am excited for what is to come as it begins a new chapter as the Department of Arts and Culture,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, lead author of the motion that enabled the transition.
The 15-member Arts Commission, an advisory body appointed by the Board of Supervisors, will continue to advocate the work of the new department. “I am proud to be an and advisor and ambassador for this department’s wide-ranging work throughout Los Angeles County,” said Helen Hernandez, Arts Commission President. “I was involved in the development of CEII, and I want to see that initiative continue to be implemented—everyone in Los Angeles County deserves access to arts and culture.”