Let's Paint the Town!
Let’s Paint the Town puts artists back to work showing that they are ESSENTIAL to the health and safety of our communities. Launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Let’s Paint the Town employs artists to create public murals, connecting artists to the creative economy and benefitting neighborhoods across LA. Taking an arts-centered community approach to economic development, Let’s Paint the Town will commission artists to produce public art murals across the Arts District of DTLA, in partnership with the ADLA BID.
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
Arts District Los Angeles Business Improvement District
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?
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?
While Los Angeles is host to a robust cultural economy, with 1 in 6 people in LA employed in the creative industries, these industries have been widely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Otis College of Art and Design 2021 report on the creative economy in California found employment loss of nearly a quarter of the cultural workforce in Los Angeles. Downtown LA is home and host to a majority of the city’s art institutions and historically to many of its artists, and as such was disproportionately affected. Research by the Small Business Administration showed the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation sector of the economy having the highest percentage of “temporary closings” (53.3% of businesses surveyed). Artists and the arts sector in LA face the potential for long-term detrimental impact, with studies stating as many as 42% of jobs will never come back. Art Share LA launched Let’s Paint the Town as part of its mission to support art, and artists, as essential while benefitting LA.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
Let’s Paint the Town was launched by Art Share LA in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting artists back to work showing that they are ESSENTIAL to the health and safety of our communities. Businesses were boarded up and LAPD expressed concern for community safety. Art Share is proud to be part of a movement to employ artists to create public murals, connecting artists to the creative economy and benefitting neighborhoods across LA. This next phase of Let’s Paint the Town seeks to focus on the Arts District of Downtown LA, which was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 closures, and which continues to face public safety concerns. Art Share LA is a pioneer in creative placemaking in DTLA, founded in 1998. Art Share is the only community-based nonprofit arts organization in the Arts District to provide accessible and affordable housing and creative spaces for artists. Taking an arts-centered community approach to economic development, Let’s Paint the Town seeks to commission artists to produce public art murals across the Arts District of DTLA, in partnership with the Arts District Los Angeles Business Improvement District. The project will entail 6 smaller scale interventions, offering emerging artists opportunities to do in-situ residencies, taking city walls and boarded up buildings as public canvases. Let’s Paint the Town will commission two large-scale community impact murals that will remain within the LA landscape for years to come.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Los Angeles will continue to revive and thrive as a creative center, with art and culture playing a key role in the economic revitalization of Downtown LA. Artists will be recognized as essential workers, and continue to have a stake in the neighborhoods they help to develop. As the DTLA BID Arts & Culture Report notes, “Building a concentrated creative community, developing cultural infrastructure and attracting culturally engaged residents, employees, and visitors are key success factors for top cities. And DTLA is Exhibit A.” Art Share LA will leverage its position as a pioneer in creative placemaking in DTLA, where it plays a key role in providing affordable housing for artists and accessible creative spaces, and continue to act as an advocate for artists as they create public art that impacts the neighborhood and engages the local community.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Art Share LA initiated Paint the Town during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Art was dubbed “non-essential” and nearly two-thirds of artists across the nation faced unemployment. The impact on artists and on the arts sector in LA was evident – studies by Film LA and Americans for the Arts noted that the “first to close, last to open” effect on the creative industry may prove to be permanently detrimental. Art Share LA quickly sprung into action to offer some reprieve to creative workers in LA. Art Share supported mural artists by commissioning them to paint boarded-up businesses, paying 70 artists to paint murals across LA. This program was presented to the LA County Board of Supervisors as a model of artists being essential workers. Let’s Paint the Town promotes the city’s symbolic revival while continuing to offer opportunities for artists to access the creative economy, receiving compensation for public art murals and gaining recognition while benefiting the LA community.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 25
Indirect Impact: 14,000
Describe the specific role of the partner organization(s) in the project, program, or initiative.
The Arts District Los Angeles Business Improvement District has committed to partnering with Art Share L.A. to assist in identifying sites for the Paint the Town initiative, to facilitate the permitting process with the city, and to maintain the public murals following their completion. The Arts District Los Angeles BID is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to serving artists, businesses and residents in the district. Their primary objective is to enhance the well being of residents, artists and businesses in the Arts District community.