The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture’s Research and Evaluation Division has released three reports as part of the department’s continued efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts.
Conducted by national arts data organization SMU DataArts, the 2019 LA County Arts and Culture Workforce Demographics Study surveyed staff, board members and contractors of arts nonprofits, museums and government arts agencies throughout the county.
It found that the cultural workforce is more homogenous than the population of the county at 59% non-Hispanic white. Seventy-eight percent of respondents identified their country of origin as the US, while 12% identified their country of origin as one of 62 different countries.
Younger workers ages 15-34 tend to be more racially and ethnically diverse, and 63% of the arts and culture workforce are women.
The Department of Arts and Culture added a new requirement to the agency’s Organizational Grant Program in 2018. All applicants must submit a board-adopted policy, statement and/or plan outlining their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. In “From Words to Action,” Arts and Culture analyzes these statements to learn how the field is responding to this new requirement.
Nearly all grant applicants used the term “diversity” in their statements, but they define that term and use it in different ways.
Some applications describe their commitment by indicating the racial, ethnic or gender makeups of their boards, staff or artists, while other applicants address the question of diversity as it relates to the organization’s historical work in the communities they serve.
Demographic data is only a starting point for ensuring that everyone in the county has access to all the benefits of the arts. Collecting demographic data about who comes to an arts event and who does not gives organizations valuable facts, but it does not tell them everything they need to know in order to serve all communities equitably.
Based on interviews with deeply committed supporters of the arts from across the county, “What People Talk About When They Talk About the Arts” identifies 12 themes that speak to why people participate in the arts and how they incorporate it into their lives.
It found that people who are highly engaged with the arts do not always call those experiences “art experiences” or even think about them as “arts.”
People value art they can experience together in shared public spaces, highlighting arts experiences as a tool for bringing people of all backgrounds together.
People view the benefits of the arts as material and tangible, as well as emotional and spiritual, and culturally-rooted arts experiences are often about identity, place and belonging.
For information, visit lacountyarts.org/article-sub-categories/research-evaluation.