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2022 Grants Challenge

Beyond empowering artists from underserved communities.

Idea by DSTL Arts

With your support, DSTL Arts will continue our mission to inspire, teach and hire emerging poet/artists from underserved, historically-marginalized communities through literary arts workshops and professional development seminars; paid Teaching Poet/Artist Internships and mentorships; and will continue publishing multiple publications featuring the writing and artwork produced by participants in our various community-based programs.

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

Access to Creative Industry Employment (sponsored by Snap Foundation)

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

East LA

South LA

County of Los Angeles

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?

Established in late 2012, DSTL Arts serves South & East LA, where, on average, 40% of households live in poverty, are 74% Latinx, & 17% Black; approximately 51% are foreign-born. 36% of households are linguistically isolated, with a majority being Spanish-speaking. Nearly 66% of the population of South & East LA have less than a high school diploma, & 94% have less than a bachelor's degree, with 56% of 16–19-year-olds having neither a job nor a high school diploma. In addition to high youth unemployment, adult unemployment is significantly higher in South LA when compared to the rest of LA. Our neighborhoods consistently lack access to affordable, art-making activities, let alone materials for creative expression or instruction. Literary programs, specifically, are rarely offered to bilingual or linguistically isolated communities in the community’s native language, ultimately disenfranchising & gatekeeping our community from inclusion in the Arts; as an industry & as a whole.

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

Our Poet/Artist Development Program provides mentorships in the arts to Emerging Poet/Artists from historically-marginalized communities & supports the creation & publication of chapbook-length creative writing & visual art manuscripts. This program also offers 7 monthly seminars for participants that guide them in developing crucial tools & skills for establishing a career in the arts. These seminars focus on topics related to business planning & management, marketing & branding, & financial management as related to being a working artist. Our enrollment prioritizes Emerging Poet/Artists, ages 18 & older, meeting at least 1 of 3 eligibility criteria: 1) low income, based on family size; 2) individuals with physical or learning disabilities; and/or 3) current or former foster youth. Additional factors, such as immigration status, being gang affected, etc., are taken into consideration as well. Select participants are also hired as Teaching Artist Interns under our Creative Impact Workshops series, & they work alongside our staff to offer community-based workshops. As paid Teaching Artist Interns, they co-plan & conduct social justice-oriented, intergenerational arts workshops culminating in the publishing of a community-generated anthology collecting artworks produced by workshop participants & other community members. In addition to contributing to this annual anthology's production, up to 10 of our enrolled Emerging Poet/Artists have their chapbook manuscripts published.

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

Our Emerging Poet/Artists & staff are partners in developing a broader awareness of the cultural richness of our community through accessible, bilingual, intergenerational arts workshops & more. Using our Mobile Art Lab to provide access to technologies that empower individuals to create and reproduce artworks, such as tablets, public WiFi & a large-format printer/scanner; plus our virtual workshops, we further empower people as creators & contributors to our local creative economy. By offering financial opportunities, we also give our Emerging Poet/Artists a professional incentive for creating artwork that could lead to future opportunities, including invaluable experience as teaching artists, & potential for recurring income from the sale of their published chapbooks. Using social media, & other technologies, we further provide access to our programs & services, not just to individuals, but to communities who are greatly underserved & underrepresented in the arts as a whole.

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

Our annual impact includes: –publication of a minimum 10 program participant-generated projects (literary chapbooks and/or comic books/graphic novels) –train & compensate 12 Teaching Artist Interns –conduct 7 professional development seminars & 12 intern-led arts workshops Additionally, post-seminar/workshop evaluations often indicate new skills acquired during each session by a minimum of 90% of attendees. Attendance for each PD seminar averages 15 participants, plus an average of 200 individuals viewing our recorded seminars on our YouTube channel annually. Intern-led workshop attendance averages 10 individuals (in-person) with an average of an additional 100 viewers watching the recorded lessons on our YouTube channel during the submission period for the related community-generated anthology. The greatest impact, however, is the financial support given to our Emerging Poet/Artists as Teaching Artist Interns and/or through royalties resulting from the sale of their publications.

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

Direct Impact: 545

Indirect Impact: 600