2022 Grants Challenge

Nurturing the Future Storytellers of LA

Idea by Casa 0101

The LA 2050 grant will support Casa 0101’s free arts education programs. For over 20 years Casa 0101’s classes in acting, writing, dance and filmmaking have provided access to the arts to the predominantly BIPOC youth of Boyle Heights. Many students have gone on to participate in plays in Casa 0101’s 99-seat theater as playwrights, actors and backstage crew. This grant will support the ongoing expansion of the arts education programs to include filmmaking, with a focus on including training and mentorship for jobs in the creative arts field.


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

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?

We understand that both issues, Access to Creative Industry Employment and Income Inequality, are interwoven and issues that Casa 0101 has addressed for many years. This work began in 2000 in a small converted bridal shop in an historically underserved community. The early years of Casa 0101 were focused on presenting theatrical productions that were for and about the community: they were stories that focused on the experiences of the working-class, primarily immigrant, community of Boyle Heights and were written by and featured BIPOC artists in roles that showcased them as the protagonists of their own stories. Over the next 20 years, this ethos of equity and representation has grown to create a pipeline to the creative arts economy for many local youth and aspiring artists. This was done primarily through its free arts education programs that were originally focused on performance arts, but have since been expanded to prepare youth for all aspects of creative work.

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

This grant would support Casa 0101's ongoing arts and arts education programs, but will help solidify a specific program that launched in 2021 when the organization resumed in-person programming. At the height of the pandemic, Casa 0101 fully embraced the transition to virtual programming. This was especially true in the case of its youth programs. After over a year of virtual programming, the youth were ready to come back for in-person programming. After securing dedicated funding, Casa 0101 was able to launch its first Youth on-camera Acting program. The idea behind the class was to consolidate all of the youth arts programs into a single overarching project that would showcase each class through a short film production. It would be youth-led and supported by BIPOC industry professionals, who would provide guidance and mentorship. The project took on the form of a short film that was written in the youth screenwriting classes, the performers were from the youth dance and acting programs, and the crew members were a collective of youth from both classes and other local youth interested in working behind the scenes. Casa 0101 dedicated its main stage for this program over the next 3 months and the youth participated in every facet of the production of this short film. The completed film, The Train, was accepted into the LA Skins Film Festival premiering that Fall at the historic Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Casa 0101 is looking to bring this program back again.

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

Our vision for the success of our programs is in rewriting the narrative of the community of Boyle Heights. When Casa 0101 was founded over 20 years ago, the perception of the community of Boyle Heights was oftentimes characterized as dangerous and blighted. News reports were almost exclusively about gangs and crime, while completely neglecting the art, culture and history of the community. This view has continued in large part, while simultaneously being seen as desirable for its proximity to downtown LA and its cultural authenticity. This has led to real threats of gentrification and displacement. With the success of our work, Los Angeles County will be different because there will be a generation of youth who take pride in their community. They will find agency by being the protagonists of their own stories. They will be the ones who rewrite the narrative of Boyle Heights as a community rich in arts and culture. And they will be the ones who protect its history and identity.

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

We measure the impact of our work in the countless testimonies of youth from our community, many who faced severe challenges, that have benefited from our programs. Some have gone on to pursue careers in the arts and have established themselves in the industry, others have gone on to pursue careers that are not directly arts-related but have experienced the many benefits of having been exposed to the arts. We have found that many of the youth are very happy to tell their stories and share how Casa 0101 has positively impacted them (see video link below). Quantitatively, Casa 0101 sends surveys to all participants at the end of its classes and productions to measure the impact of the programs and seek ways to improve. Additionally, Casa 0101 is able to measure the impact of its programs through its theatrical productions. Many participants in Casa 0101's educational programs, whether as writers, performers or crew, find their first real stage credits on Casa 0101's stage.

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

Direct Impact: 200

Indirect Impact: 12,000