2021 Grants Challenge

Unity. Solidarity. Equity.

Contemporary Art League is a cooperatively owned and operated trade organization with a mission to build unity, solidarity, and equity in our field. CAL is an ambitious, long-term effort to unify and support the unprotected, under-resourced, and largely underpaid labor force of art workers within the broader creative economy in Los Angeles County. We offer community services, professional support, and advocacy opportunities to our members online and at our community center, responding directly to the needs of our community.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Art workers are unprotected and under-resourced. Without proper infrastructure to support us, art workers are a vulnerable labor force. We are also a valuable work force. “[Before Covid-19], CA's creative industries contributed $230.3B to the economy, representing 8.2% of the state's GDP—a larger share of the state's economy than Construction ($102B), or Transportation ($72B).” (1) In 2020, economic losses due to Covid-19 in the arts communities were disastrous, leading to what Californians for the Arts is calling a “pending cultural depression.” According to the 2021 Otis Report on the Creative Economy, the arts in Los Angeles lost 276,100 jobs, $26.5B in labor income, and $78.9B in output in 2020. Meanwhile, 30% of Fine Arts jobs in Los Angeles are contract labor, leaving too many art workers with precarious employment in a city with one of the highest costs of living in the country. 1. California Arts Council letter to Gov. Gavin Newsome, re: Creative Corps; March 2021

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

CAL is a cooperatively owned trade organization with a mission to build unity, solidarity, and equity in our field. We are a community-powered resource for art workers, a labor force including artists, art museum and gallery staff, art educators, and more. CAL is an ambitious, long-term effort to unify the unprotected, under-resourced, and largely underpaid labor force of art workers within the broader creative economy in LA County. This is an essential step to ensure art workers are supported in their work and to achieve equity in our field. We will focus on three areas: community services, professional support, and advocacy. We will reach our members via a website and community center. The LA2050 grant will fund development of our cooperative business model, member governance, community center visioning, and website. We plan to launch the website on May Day 2022. The community input we’ve received indicates that art workers are urgently seeking assistance with accessing healthcare, childcare, and capital. The website will offer these services, laying the groundwork for what we will offer at our community center in years to come. We also envision the website including elements such as: + How to: establish an artist studio, set up a business, form a nonprofit or cooperative + Skill-building workshops + Listings: hiring/for hire; grant, residency, and exhibition deadlines; volunteer and advocacy opportunities + Member pages encouraging sharing, exchange, and mentorship

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 500

Indirect Impact: 5,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

CAL is a new framework for the art economy in LA, favoring solidarity and equity over competition and scarcity. When CAL takes root, art workers will connect via cooperative membership, accessing services and engaging in collective advocacy. LA’s tens of thousands of art workers will be a more visible, more valued workforce. When CAL is growing, we will reflect the diverse population of LA, and our online resources will be used by hundreds of members weekly. When CAL is flourishing, our community center will offer professional services; assistance accessing healthcare, childcare, and capital; and temporary work space, allowing previously unstable art workers to thrive in LA. When CAL nourishes LA, we will have reorganized art world hierarchies that inhibit access and deny equity to BIPOC, differently abled, and LGBTQIA+ folks and perpetuate pay inequality, proving that cooperative ownership is a viable path to social and economic equity in our field, in LA, and in society at large.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

CAL was founded in September 2020 and is in its early stage. During the LA2050 grant period, we will move into the first phase of our business model. Our primary definition of success is to reach our goal of launching our website on May Day 2022 with 500 members. Parallel to this primary goal are community input, potential member recruitment, and member engagement. Leading up to and inclusive of the grant period, we have the following aims: + 50 individual informational calls + 50 informational meetings with informal and formal art groups, organizations, and businesses + 10 open community meetings + 2500 newsletter subscribers; 75% open rate + 4000 Instagram followers; 20% actively engaging with posts + 500 members in good standing + 250 members registered for potential cooperative ownership + 3500 respondents to June 2022 community survey + Establish and implement cooperative governance model

Which of the CREATE metrics will you impact?​

Employment in the creative industries

Income inequality

Minority- and women-owned businesses