Forward Progress on First LA County Arts Department

The Board of Supervisors took further steps toward creating the first Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture Department. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Board Chair Sheila Kuehl had coauthored the motion earlier this year with broad support from arts funders, creators and institutions.

“When we think about nearly 800,000 creative industry jobs in 2016, $200-billion in economic output, and $9-billion in taxes, we understand the impact of the arts and the creative economy,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “With the new Arts and Culture Department, our region’s reliance on the financial output from the many sectors of the creative economy – digital media, sporting and other special events –will be included and enhanced.”

The transition of the LA County Arts Commission to the LA County Department of Arts and Culture is anticipated to be completed by July 1, 2019.

“There was a time when the arts were seen as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have,” LA County Arts Commission Executive Director Kristin Sakoda said when the Board voted to create the new department. “Today the ordinance creating the first ever Department of Arts and Culture for the County of Los Angeles marks a historic milestone for the arts in LA County and elevates the County’s vital role in public support for arts and culture.”

The LA County Arts Commission was initially established in 1947. It has grown in the last 71 years since from solely supporting local music performances to supporting hundreds of nonprofit organizations and functioning as a full-service local arts agency.

Throughout the decades, the Commission’s role has expanded to include innovative and meaningful programs including working with school districts throughout the County to develop and implement a strategic plan to integrate arts into K-12 public schools. It also administers the Civic Art program, where artists are aligned with capital projects to bring aesthetics and programming to the community in which the project is located, as well as the Arts Internship Program. To date, more than 2,000 college and university students participate in a paid internship for ten weeks during the summer in arts organizations and venues throughout the County.