2022 Grants Challenge

Art + Activism

The Hammer Museum at UCLA respectfully requests a LA2050 Challenge Grant to support Art + Activism, a program launched in summer 2021. The program brings together teens from underserved high schools in Los Angeles, undergraduate and graduate student mentors, artists, and activists to explore art and activism and learn about career pathways in the arts. Funding from LA2050 will provide critical support of the program to expand in its third year and ensure its continued success and impact.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

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

City of Los Angeles

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

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

In summer 2021, the Hammer’s academic programs department launched Art + Activism, a multi-generational artmaking mentorship program that brings together high school students from culturally-underserved public schools in Los Angeles and UCLA undergraduate and MFA students to explore the intersections of art and activism, and learn about college and career pathways in the arts. Building on a strong foundation of innovative museum education programming centered on critical thinking, creativity, and social awareness through art, the program was developed in response to inequity magnified during the pandemic and in the wake of the rise to prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement. The program is a significant opportunity for the museum to provide learning and mentorship opportunities for teen audiences, a demographic that the Hammer has long been interested in better serving, and provide professional development experiences for students from UCLA’s School of Art and Architecture.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Art + Activism was developed with the aim of reducing barriers to education and opportunities in the arts, facilitate positive youth development, and promote awareness of UCLA’s School of Art and Architecture and other college and career paths in the arts to public high school students in Los Angeles. Art + Activism is a multi-generational mentorship program that brings together high school students, who participate as interns, and UCLA undergraduate and MFA students, who serve as mentors, to explore the intersections of art and activism and learn about college and career pathways in the arts. All high school interns and student mentors receive a stipend to ensure that the program is accessible to those who may otherwise need summer employment. The mentors develop and lead series of creative workshops exploring a wide variety of artistic mediums, as well as portfolio-building and other professional skills necessary for arts careers. Complementing these activities, the interns and mentors meet with professional artists, activists, and UCLA staff to learn about their work and diverse pathways for arts education and careers in the arts. Following the program in 2021, the academic programs team conducted a survey to measure the program’s success and identify areas for improvement. Responses were overwhelmingly positive with all students reporting increased career readiness, greater understanding of contemporary art/activist practices, and strengthened collaboration skills.

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

Given the impact of the program so far, and the continued importance of reaching teens without meaningful access to the arts, the Hammer’s academic programs team will offer the third iteration of Art + Activism during summer of 2023. The team will collaborate with graduate and undergraduate student mentors and a consulting artist next spring to develop the curriculum. Following an intern orientation, the program will take place over six weeks in June and July. Based on feedback after the 2021 participant survey, the program will feature more time devoted to professional development for the mentors, and an increased number of field trips to the Hammer and other art spaces to enhance opportunities for experiential learning. The third iteration of the program will expand the first two iterations by including a culminating teen art + activism summit, which will extend the learnings and dialogues of the program to a larger teen audience.

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

The primary goals of the Art + Activism program are to strengthen college and career readiness, to build competency in both contemporary art practices and activism, and to grow collaboration skills. To measure success towards these goals, the Hammer’s academic programs team will conduct a pre- and post-program survey and focus groups following the program to gather targeted feedback from high school student interns and mentors alike. The team will also conduct survey research with participants at the teen art + activism summit. This feedback will be carefully reviewed and taken in to account when planning future sessions of Art + Activism. The academic programs team will also observe the program and regularly hold conversations with the interns and mentors to gauge progress and make adjustments as needed.

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

Direct Impact: 25

Indirect Impact: 150