Arts & Cultural Vitality / 2013

Slake: Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Slake: Los Angeles

Slake: Los Angeles is the first journal of narrative nonfiction, fiction, essay, memoir, photography and poetry in Los Angeles to gain worldwide recognition for its quality and design. Slake is devoted to the art of narrative storytelling in a media landscape where that mission is increasingly difficult and rare, but ever more essential. Storytelling breeds empathy and understanding, which improve community engagement and increase our civic stake. Slake will continue to give voice to the intellectual and creative resources of Los Angeles and shows them to the world at a time when Los Angeles is becoming the most important city in America as we move further into the 21st Century. Slake's highly attended readings, events, and Slake After Dark author and musician series will continue rally the literary and arts community to Los Angeles' civic mission. Most importantly, Slake will expand it's mission to include a publishing imprint that will bring the projects of underserved LA writers and artists to the world. There is no reason Los Angeles should rely on the permission of New York to get its creative capital disseminated.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Most importantly, Slake proved Los Angeles can produce a beautiful, exciting, smart journal of arts and letters that bridges the gap between stagnant old-world iterations of such and the future of long-form publishing. Slake is as intelligent as it as it is lovely and its success belies the myth that people don’t have time or don’t want to engage with more in-depth narrative. We’ve raised expectations for both Los Angeles and for the world as to what we should expect from a Los Angeles journal. Meanwhile, we’ve provided much needed gravity around which this often diffused community.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Our partners will be the universities (USC and Occidental) where we have established relationships as well as such cultural programs as The Hammer, where we’ve done successful events, and venues such as The Bootleg Theater and many other programming venues throughout the city and Pasadena at which Slake has provided rich, exciting events as well as venues such as Track 16 and Atwater Crossing to which Slake has brought hundreds to thousands of Angelenos for evenings of art, literature and music. We also collaborate with bookstores throughout the region, where our readings are often among the best attended. Slake has done highly successful programming for social and political events such as All in For the 99 and will continue to do so.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

Slake will measure success by increasing subscriptions, sales, event attendance and national and international recognitions, such as Cindy Carcamo’s piece from Slake #2, “Return To Sender” winning international awards for immigration reporting and stories by Richard Lange, Joe Donnelly, Harry Shannon, Erica Wrightson, Joseph Mattson and others who have been recognized by The Best American series. Mostly, though, we’ll measure our success by sustaining and growing Los Angeles’ literary and artistic

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

Los Angeles, the gateway to Latin America and the Pacific Rim is criminally disadvantaged when it comes to disseminating and distributing the work of its artists, writers and intellectuals. This is primarily the means of production (and locus of prejudice towards Los Angeles) in publishing remain in New York. In it’s brief history, Slake: Los Angeles, A City and its Stories, has competed with the best journalis in the world and won. Slake has been honored by press clubs, Pen Center, Livingston Awards, Franco American Foundation, and the prestigious Best Of American series five times (in two eligible issues). This is a remarkable feat and it’s been accomplished because nobody know and can harness LA’s talent better than Slake and its editors, Joe Donnelly and Laurie Ochoa.

Los Angeles needs and deserves a prominent voice and forumn for its creative and intellectual talent to present to the world. Los Angeles is critical to the 21st Century, the privileges and problems of which will unfurl in LA first.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Los Angeles, the premiere city of the 21st Century would own its own means of production for producing and publishing for broad consumption its intellectual, artistic and academic capital.