On Saturday, July 11, 2020, the Arts and Culture Committee presented a state of the sector conversation with Kristin Sakoda, Director of Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture and Danielle Brazelle, General Manager of City of LA Department of Cultural Affairs. The committee and their guests discussed how arts and culture can help the community heal and move beyond profound economic and social devastation to fundamentally transform the landscape and move us forward toward greater justice, equity and inclusion.
The committee was also joined by Anji Gaspar Melanovic, who presented practical resources available to the sector. Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas provided opening remarks and closed the event with a call for thoughtful consideration of the moment the community currently finds itself experiencing. Arts & Culture Committee co-chairs Marie Kellier & Trevor Davis moderated the conversation, which presented concerns from the community, addressing issues such as:
the need for systematic support for the arts sector who are usually called upon to be active responders in times of crisis;
the need to examine the effects of AB5 on independent contractors, gig workers and small arts practices;
how to creatively allocate city and county owned space for the use of arts and culture;
maintaining ongoing advocacy for the arts, especially inclusion of the sector in the distribution of CARES Act funding;
and continued vigilance of the sector as it moves beyond the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The dialogue provided a real time behind the scenes overview of the impact of COVID-19 on each agency and their strategies in pivoting to address the needs of the sector. Finally, the committee provided a comprehensive list of practical resources as well as an expanded vision of where arts and culture could and should go from here.
The Empowerment Congress Arts & Culture Committee recognizes that participation in arts and culture is a human right, and advocates for all people to have access to the means of creative expression. In this time of social turmoil, grief and uncertainty, we are committed to finding ways for the arts and culture sector to recover from the profound impacts of COVID19, and to support the work of those addressing the racial injustices that sparked widespread social unrest. We seek to amplify the call for racial justice reflected in movements such as Black Lives Matter, and acknowledge the unsung numbers of artists and arts organizations that uplift the lives and struggles of black and brown communities. In this conversation, we discussed ways that we can join arts and cultural leaders whose work builds social and racial equity and drives us to build a more just society.