2022 Grants Challenge

Feeding the Arts and Culture Workers Pipeline

Founded by artists in 1978, LACE is the longest-running incubator for contemporary art in LA. We are building on 2 successful programs: the Emerging Curator Program and the Apprenticeship Program. LACE is committed to emerging artists, curators, and cultural workers, and this initiative will deepen mentorship and offer paid opportunities to emerging creatives often expected to gain work experience in the field with little to no pay. With this project, LACE will change the inequitable pipeline for the artistic workforce.


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?

Central LA

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

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

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

According to the recently released Otis Report for the Creative Economy (April 2022), “Shuttered concert venues, exhibition spaces, and other cultural centers prompted a roughly 20% drop in employment in both Los Angeles County and California between 2019 and 2020.” (pg. 74) Among museums, galleries, and historical sites, “Los Angeles County shed over 1,200 jobs, or a third of all Museum, Galleries, and Historical Sites jobs statewide, between 2019 and 2020.” (pg. 81) This drastic drop from the COVID-19 pandemic was in direct opposition to a steady growth in this field in previous years. Given the highly competitive nature of the field in this present moment, recent college graduates and aspiring arts professionals, especially within communities of color, will require even more practical training, mentorship, and networking to successfully enter the field. These proposed programs are essential to preparing individuals to be ready as the sectors reopen and staffing levels are rebuilt.

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

Feeding the Arts and Culture Workers Pipeline is a two-pronged approach, expanding LACE’s signature projects: the Emerging Curator Program and the Apprenticeship Program. Expanding the Emerging Curator Program. Now in its 8th year, the Program strives to discover curatorial talent in LA with a diversity of perspectives. We propose a pilot program based on successes of the last 8 years, to deepen mentorship around growing interest in the field of art curation, and to support 3 activities: an annual symposium, a mentorship program, with special attention to building a pipeline of BIPOC curators, and an exhibition for a selected proposal. Expanding the Apprenticeship Program: With over 800 participants to date, the Program develops a diverse pipeline of cultural workers. A pillar of the organization’s ethos since its 1978 inception, the program serves as a launchpad for many arts professionals to develop critical skills such as: administration, finance, development, research, communications, exhibition + event production, and facility operations. Apprentices are given unique projects to gain the skills necessary to flourish in their desired field within the art world. LA2050 funding would support active work towards eliminating unpaid internships which privilege certain individuals, are intrinsically inequitable, and lead to a white-majority workforce. LACE has established partners to support this goal, including the Getty, the Ramos Foundation, Pitzer, and others.

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

Feeding the Arts and Culture Workers Pipeline will expand career opportunities for emerging workers, specifically those that identify as BIPOC. Setting up entry-level positions that are equitably compensated will allow for a more diverse workforce and encourage other institutions to similarly step up to the plate. Los Angeles is already a major destination for arts and culture, and individuals hoping to join the city’s dynamic creative industries graduate from college or relocate to LA everyday. However, the support systems for these hopeful talents are few and far between, and too often do not provide the mentorship or financial support that a fellowship like the Emerging Curators Program, or an internship, like the Apprentice Program, should provide. This project will provide access to support across the city through institutional partnerships and mentors, as well as an international perspective through the project’s Curatorial Symposium.

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

Apprenticeships have been a cornerstone of LACE’s programming for decades, with many of the region’s most prominent arts professionals gaining their first work experience here. Through one-on-one mentorship, ongoing guidance, and supervision, LACE nurtures recent graduates and young adults each year by providing comprehensive hands-on skills development in the nonprofit arts field. Recent members of the LACE family have gone on to careers at MOCA, LACMA, the Broad, ArtCenter, LA Opera, and more. Notable former apprentices include: artists Mark Bradford and Sandeep Mukherjee, gallerist Sarah Gavlak, and Patti Nam (Hauser Wirth), among others. Alumni of the Emerging Curators Program have gone on to positions at the Getty Foundation and Research Institute and The Mistake Room, have enrolled in prestigious PhD programs in Art History, and more. LACE proposes two new activities, the Curatorial Symposium and a more formalized mentorship with partnering institutions.

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

Direct Impact: 2,000

Indirect Impact: 1,000