Arts & Cultural Vitality / 2013
DIYFO: DIY For Others. An accessible space for cultivating creative talent
DIYFO shares the sentiment set forth by the LA 2050 report, that cultivating and training creative minds is paramount to Los Angeles’ continued cultural success. We teach a variety of DIY skills, through events and workshops – always with a charitable component. Currently we present events in host spaces, but we want to expand and increase the frequency and scope of our programming, and to also establish a home base in Downtown Los Angeles that serves a threefold purpose: to provide a permanent home for learning, to exist as a gallery for showcasing work and ideas, and to house an open-source studio and workshop, in which community members can access tools and equipment as varied as 3D printers, bicycle repair tools, and sewing machines. With specific classes designed to reach adults, children, and teens – covering a variety of skills and techniques – DIYFO will provide an opportunity to learn and grow: to develop talent that may otherwise have been left uncultivated, and to promote participants’ lifelong appreciation for the importance of making. As with the workshops we currently present, a portion of the instructional fees will directly benefit local non-profit organizations. In addition, DIYFO will host talks and special events, designed to coincide with exhibited work, offering a unique opportunity for the public to access and understand art in an interactive environment. Work will be available to purchase, and a portion of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to partner non-profit organizations. Finally, DIYFO will provide access to equipment and art supplies in a studio setting. Visionaries of all skill levels will get the chance to learn from one another, and to collaborate on impactful, innovative work. We will also continue to coordinate directly with charitable organizations to provide onsite instruction and outreach to the people they serve. At DIYFO, we believe that everyone has creative potential, and that there exists great value in the ability to work with one’s hands – to solve problems, and to make something completely new. We believe that this approach will instill a confidence in the people we reach directly, and create a ripple effect of increased appreciation for arts and culture, citywide.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
In fewer than 18 months, DIYFO has grown from an arts and crafts-oriented meeting among friends at a bar, to an organization whose vision will change the way Los Angeles uses and cultivates its creative talents. We have teamed up with organizations like Junior League Los Angeles and Aviva, and are driven by our desire to reach those in need. DIYFO has also partnered with organizers of events like Unique LA Local Love 2012 and the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast to host onsite DIY projects – free of charge – for the events’ thousands of attendees, and will partner with Jubilee Music Festival to do the same in June. We also continue to provide programming around the city in our sponsor venues – teaching DIY, while working to raise money for a variety of organizations. We plan to accomplish much more in 2013 and beyond, by instituting our pilot program in a physical space, while meanwhile expanding our multimedia content to extend our reach – using all available resources and outlets to provide artistic opportunities, advance appreciation and understanding, and unlock the creative potential in all of LA’s residents.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
We have presented programming with non-profit organizations and have worked to raise money for still others, like Mid-Ohio Food Bank and Downtown Women’s Center, and we will only expand this outreach. We also plan to bolster our community and commercial partnerships to provide innovative and dynamic experiences for our constituents. Finally, we hope to develop programming with institutions, universities, and galleries to activate the DIYFO space and other organizations’ spaces around LA: fostering citywide enrollment, and weaving DIYFO (and the culture we promote) into the very fabric of Los Angeles.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
Because DIYFO is relatively young, establishing a designated headquarters will be, in itself, a huge measure of success. However, this initial milestone will be followed by markers that include the diversity of the workshops we offer, the range of the artwork we exhibit, the resources we are able to contribute to people in need, the scope of the skills and equipment to which we provide access, and the ability for DIYFO to sustain itself: with the long-term goal of expanding its physical presence, via satellite spaces throughout the city. During the first portion of its two-part pilot period, DIYFO will offer one to two workshops per week in host spaces, and will organize exhibitions and special events and talks. During the second period (October through December 2013), DIYFO will inhabit a pop-up space in Downtown Los Angeles, presenting 5 workshops per week, events and special sessions, rotating exhibitions, and core open-studio access. Success in this regard would be reflected in the crowd-, awareness-, and resource-building that the programming would draw, allowing for enhanced programming in 2014 and beyond. Being successful will also mean that we are able to allocate resources to directly benefit local charitable organizations, in donations of materials, funds, and time, as well as in access to hands-on learning programs and public art projects, conceived of and carried out by members of the DIYFO community. Each accomplishment will signal a small victory for DIYFO’s mission to change the way Los Angeles (and as a result, the region) approaches art and innovation. Developing unique and dynamic programming, reaching new people, staying current with material resources and expert knowledge, and making a significant contribution to the community, will all signal the ultimate indicator of DIYFO’s success – the development of a vast and vital community with collaborative DIY at its heart.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
With over half a million residents employed in the arts, it’s evident that Los Angeles abounds with talent, and we call upon innovators and arts professionals to share their what they know with others through talks, workshops, and exhibitions. We bring people and resources together, catalyzing an exchange of ideas and knowledge, and encouraging collaborative projects beneficial to Los Angeles – from public outreach to innovative projects that blur the boundaries of art, social engagement, and technology. Funding for public arts education is waning, but we believe that people of all ages and backgrounds should have access to the tools and knowledge that will allow them to realize their greatest ideas. By offering programs designed for various age groups, we will help our students develop their creative talents, and equip them to change the world. We will remove the barriers created by the necessity for highly specialized supplies and equipment, by creating a fully equipped studio space – allowing Angelenos an opportunity to learn in a guided, collaborative environment. Members of the DIYFO community will also be encouraged to contribute their unique abilities to our workshops and events. We will empower talented people to achieve great things, spurring a culture shift that encourages creative community engagement.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
Success would mean significant reach for DIYFO, but more importantly – a thriving creative and collaborative culture that would be the standard in Los Angeles: allowing artistic talent to grow and remain in LA, and attracting gifted individuals from elsewhere. As the lines between art and science and technology continue to blur, we hope to create a community on the frontier – cultivating traditional artistic techniques, and educating people about technologies like 3D printing and fabrication – resulting in cultural endeavors that cross boundaries of medium. DIYFO wants to spur a culture shift – catalyzing a movement toward a full embrace of the value of creative skills, and the vital significance of community-building. Success in 2050 will be signaled by the development of cross-industry ideas and practices that stem from an embrace of merging art and innovation. LA in 2050: a city where hands-on, imaginative cooperation is incorporated into the solutions to problems of any scale.