2018 Grants Challenge

Create Above the Radar Program – Think Tank Gallery Spotlight on Creative Opportunity

Your art is better when you don,t have to hide it. #CreateAboveTheRadar makes permitting your production less daunting, & provides opportunities for your show, mural, or event to find a scene in LA


Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

Create Above the Radar is an online & live program sharing gatekept permitting information with creators in a responsible but emancipating way. It continues our professional consultation efforts to make Los Angeles the worldwide epicenter of immersive art. LA is uniquely suited to this growing field but our creators need guidance if it is going to thrive. As an added benefit, it consolidates information for our governing bodies to better know how regulations are applied by the artists using them

Which of the CREATE metrics will your activation impact?​

Manufacturing activity

Arts establishments per capita

Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?​

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the best place to CONNECT

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles


How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?​

Advocate for policy

Digital organizing or activism

Trainings and/or in-person engagements

Create new tools or technologies for greater civic/political engagement

Encourage businesses to change practices

Increase participation in political processes

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to CREATE?​

Artists invent new ways to do things, & we all benefit from that exploration. Because most creatives buckle at bureaucracy, starting with ideas rather than legal feasibility, regulation tying up cultural opportunity acts as a hidden landmine that takes a big idea’s legs out before seeing the light of day. If more creatives could produce compliant work, they could empower their practice & employ collaborators more often; we believe collaboration is fuel for creation. We aim to pull such projects up from hiding spots below the radar, benefiting economic leadership in the process.

Bringing underground & unregulated productions that we all know exist out of the shadows removes fear to advertise or engage with the community. It also provides local economic impact by tapping a wider audience, allowing for open dialog between artists’ audiences & the City, free of hiding their art from regulation.

Weeks before Oakland’s Ghost Ship Fire, we submitted a similar LA2050 application, provided an honorable mention by judges. Since then, we’ve been offering free consultations to DIY productions coming to us after compliance speedbumps. We also co-directed Bringing Back Broadway’s annual festival spearheading use of nontraditional spaces for 3 years, with 90k+ attendees. Now we’ve been invited to join LEIA (below) to form a permitting committee with governing bodies that regulate safety for artistic creation in LA.

With them, this project institutes a catch-all website, a repository for regulatory measures & how to smoothly work through them. This resource is assembled by our experts, with a large survey of problems from local creators & solutions to those problems. It will be sent to various governing bodies for feedback, but will exist as a standalone asset for creators to explore. While it will not automatically send users directly to agency inboxes or applications (using up limited government resources for such consultation), it will provide creators with a checkbox & drop down menu system that bounces them out to informative pages on how to create compliant events & artworks. The resource will culminate with hyperlinks to application forms & office contact information, once they reach the point that agency outreach is appropriate.

LA is the epicenter for artistic creation. Our mayor called it “the most creative city in the history of the world,” but its permitting process has been convoluted, & many large projects have been chopped off at the knees. The vast sprawl & diverse creative industry of our city allows for boundary pushing work, matching our city’s constant flux of neighborhood boundaries, & we have witnessed a group of artists eager to know what the city wants from them. At the moment, the largest projects that these creators produce are fleeing to cities that have less intimidating processes (recently, the massive “Tension” show’s move to Vegas), & it's time to regain LA’s place as the most vibrant, immersive region for artistic monetization

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to CREATE​

Our project creates a tool for creative, civic engagement in LA’s diverse neighborhoods. Access to information is a huge limitation for low-income, independent creators. We expose hidden approval processes needed to activate unique spaces in LA, & provide a forum artists in marginalized neighborhoods without access to cultural funding. This shows success in navigating the bureaucracy, & as greater awareness grows with more successfully permitted work, we will offer tools to advocate for policy changes enabling smoother approval processes. Through them artists will be more comfortable advertising publicly, exposing audiences to diverse work across genres, something priorly accessible only to a small, private community of enthusiasts.

Further, programming themed around the web portal (hyped parties, workshops with City officials, panel discussions) will build case studies to navigate approval processes & share data with the City. Such activations will be documented on this web portal & social media outlets, sharing opportunities to engage in these events and lessons learned from the discussions. Locals will have a new opportunity to engage directly with officials in a productive, transparent way.

Our project encourages cultural producers to work within the system to appropriately stage events & experiences by providing access to relevant information & processes. The website will be a resource for all seeking City approval for unique art & cultural events & experiences.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

This portal is a resource for artists to create short-term experiences in their hoods. To be effective we must be a product of shared learning. Events & panels inform the creation of website functions, which contain case studies & examples of successful events. Participants share experiences, informing possible outcomes, providing material for case studies, leading to replicable solutions documented on the site.

A primary metric of success will be that engagement. Partner organization LEIA already represents a broad swath of artists working in immersive spaces, & partnership of the DCA reaches a much broader range of artists. A broader diversity of cultural experiences informs the guidance our project is able to provide in this growing cultural segment.

As a web portal, metrics are easily monitored, easily setting goals for engagement from both the project & the DCA.

LEIA has been collecting information about such work in LA & can capture hard data to measure the success of the project including stats about production numbers year over year. They can also drill down specifics of companies unable to launch work in LA & use this program to turn these failures into success stories.

We aim to provide a forum for creators to better engage with policy regulating art production. An obvious metric is the increased occurrence of short-term, site-specific, immersive art & events. Vegas has seen immersive investments top $100MIL this year; it’s time for LA to take some of these back

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

In five years, Create Above the Radar will be an active, ongoing resource for cultural producers, artists, & creators to navigate City approvals. This will promote successful events & experiences that engage Angelenos in innovative, site-specific, temporary & long-term installations & activations. The resource will live on with case studies & success stories, informing future creators in their endeavors to engage with City policy regulating art, structures, & place.

With the Olympics hitting LA at the halfway point between today and the project’s goal of artistic revitalization of the region by the year 2050, a good benchmark will be how supportive our platform will become for outside producers visiting our city — one they’ve heard described as the entertainment capitol of the world.

Ideally, the web resource & process will engage Angelenos & policymakers to update policy that has limited the growth of this young, growing segment of arts & culture in LA. Create Above the Radar will be positioned to be a forum to host & advance such policy discussions.

LEIA will continue to be a central organizing entity in this new & growing segment of art & cultural production, working toward helping members successfully create permitted events & experiences.The platform can also connect permitting professionals (including our own) to the creators who need their services as their projects grow larger & larger.