On Aug. 4, as the coronavirus continued to curtail the regional economy, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, 2nd District, introduced a motion to provide an additional $3.6 million for arts organizations.
This motion addresses systemic inequities in the arts. Co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, 3rd District, and approved by the Board of Supervisors with 66 written comments sent in support, the motion will expand the Organizational Grant Program through additional funding for arts organizations during one of the most challenging economic environments of the 21st 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,” 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,” Kuehl added. “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% of the county’s nonprofit arts organizations are “extremely likely” to make temporary or permanent reductions in staff, and 33% 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.
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 one out of five jobs in Los Angeles County are supported by the arts and creative economy with $67 billion in labor income and $203 billion in total creative economy output.
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