create / 2014

LADADSpace LA Murals & Mentorship Program

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Los Angeles Downtown Arts District Space (LADADSpace)

At risk youth apprentice for professional muralists and train in professional internships to become working artists


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

At risk youth apprentice for professional muralists and train in professional internships to become working artists

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA

What is your idea/project in more detail?

LADADSpace is thrilled to pilot the LA Muralist Mentorship Program; a program that apprentices at-risk youth facing criminal charges for tagging/graffiti. These first-time offenders will be assigned to us through the LA District Attorney’s Office to meet their community service obligations. Each apprentice will work under an experienced muralist, gaining hands-on experience in developing and painting a mural. In addition, apprentices will complete training in drawing and basic artistic skills, followed by internships in the Art Department at Warner Bros. and/or other Hollywood studios for film and television projects. Program closes with apprentices completing a smaller arts project in his/her community under LADADSpace supervision.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

LADADSpace’s strength lies in its deep relationships with property owners, restaurants, businesses, arts organizations, and artists in the Arts District and neighboring communities. We are rallying great support for the project across the Arts District and with our numerous community partners. LADADSpace has received encouragement from Councilmember Jose Huizar, who initially suggested that we create this program. LADADSpace is working with the LA County District Attorney’s Office to identify apprentices for the program. LADADSpace will supervise all program activities, overseeing the educational components while making sure apprentices meet internship objectives and their legally-mandated responsibilities. LADADSpace has recruited two qualified artist-instructors with years of experience teaching art at LAUSD high schools and at the college level. These artists will tailor the basic training program to individual program participants to ensure assignments and responsibilities are matched to their skill levels. The artist-instructors will meet regularly with LADADSpace administrators to ensure all program goals are realized. LADADSpace will also work with mentoring muralists to make sure that mural development deadlines are on track and that apprentices are committing to the work schedule as set by the muralist mentor. Finally, we will monitor apprentices as they manage their internship duties and fulfill internship responsibilities.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

In an effort to serve Los Angeles, which has the largest concentration of working artists in the country, it is part of LADADSpace’s mission to support and create opportunities for artists, inspiring vehicles for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary platforms for artistic expression. LADADSpace, in conjunction with its partners, is excited to organize a collective effort of local businesses, art galleries, non-profit organizations, restaurants, civic, and legal leaders to support the Los Angeles Muralist Mentorship program, helping beautify our communities, put local muralists to work, and support our most vulnerable and unsupported young artists. Taking taggers off the streets will decrease the amount of graffiti in Los Angeles. Even if only a few of the program’s participants pursue a career in the arts, that creates enormous potential for the emergence of new artists who will contribute to the growing transformation of the City’s walls into a colorful cityscape that enriches the lives of visitors and residents.
We believe that the Los Angeles Muralist Mentorship Program will foster artistic entrepreneurship and inclusivity, creating opportunities that extend to neighboring communities and bolstering cross cultural and economic relationships between the Arts District, Central Los Angeles, and East Los Angeles.

LA2050 CREATE GOALS/Metrics that the Los Angeles Muralist LA Mentorship Program include: • Employment in creative industries • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)

Whom will your project benefit?

  1. The at-risk youth from East, Central, and South Los Angeles assigned to LADADSpace who will seize the opportunities offered by the program to alter the course of their lives and follow new pathways to a brighter future.
  2. The home communities of the apprentices, particularly members of their peer group who will witness the apprentice’s transformation from tagger to artist. Home communities will also benefit from the contribution of the smaller art project that the apprentice brings back to and/or creates in his/her community
  3. Cultural tourists and city dwellers who delight in the proliferation of mural art on the City’s walls.
  4. Property owners and the city at large benefitting from both the reduction of graffiti and the availability of new mural art in the city of Los Angeles.

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

Councilman Jose Huizar, District 14 - Confirmed, worked with in the past. He will assist in recruiting wall space, mural materials, & project promotion.

LA County District Attorney’s Office, Prosecutor Dave Ikeda, Confirmed. He will match first time tagging offenders (through the LA County court system) with our program to satisfy their community service requirement.

Confirmed Muralist Mentorship Program Art Instructors Tod Lychkoff, artist/professor at LA Harbor College Derrick Hensman, artist & LAUSD art teacher & art instructor at UC Berkeley: will evaluate apprentice skill level, teach weekly lessons & supervise visits to LA Arts institutions over a three month period.

Muralist mentors Tristan Eaton & Saber will mentor apprentices in the mural making. He pursued street art as a teenager and painted on everything in the urban landscape from billboards to dumpsters. He is a self-proclaimed skateboarding punk who as a teenager was arrested for various crimes including shoplifting and tagging with graffiti. He consults with Hasbro, Pepsi, and Nike, is sponsored by Versace, & his work can be seen at the Cooper Hewitt Museum and at the MOMA. Saber is most famous for an exceptionally large piece he did on the concrete bank of the LA River in 1997. The full color piece took 97 gallons of paint and 35 nights spread out over the course of a year to complete. The final work, measuring 250 x 55 feet has been called “the largest graffiti painting ever.” Saber has been called by the Washington Post “one of the best Graffiti Writers of all time.” Both muralists are confirmed and we have worked with them previously.

Michael Walbrecht, VP Public Affairs, Warner Bros Will assist with the advising and placement of interns following the mentorship program and arts education. Confirmed, pre-existing partnership.

Department of Cultural Affairs- The Department of Cultural Affairs was authorized by the City Council to establish and run a City-wide mural program in Oct 2013. As such, we will work with DCA to identify resources, including use of available fiscal year 2014/15 City funding for the creation of new murals, in order to further fund the program. We will work with DCA to apply for Mural disposition plan funding, which provides $20K per City Council District for the creation of new murals. DCA will work with us through DCA’s role in administering the City’s mural program.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in creative industries

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

The LA Muralist Mentorship Program will: • Create an arts education program designed to support troubled young people who demonstrate an interest in art but have little or no opportunities to pursue that interest or develop their talent. • Abate graffiti • Strengthen ties between community artists, criminalized young artists, LA business owners who want to beautify their establishment walls, and the Office of City Council District 14, also interested in beautifying the city • Transform taggers into artists one person at a time • Create new mural art in the city of LA • Create new artistic projects in East, Central, and South LA from apprentices coming from these communities • Build relationships between artists and civic leaders in the Arts District and East, Central, and South LA • Direct at-risk youth into artistic training and internships that foster skills for jobs in the arts sector.

LA2050 Metric; Employment in creative industries: It is part of LADADSpace’s vision to support the evolution and livelihood of local artists and artists of neighboring communities as part of the healthy arts ecosystem of LA that can serve diverse audiences. Through our mentorship program, we will put artists to work, supporting the creativity and community connections of the mentoring muralists, teaching artists, and the apprentices. We will support the apprentices over the course of several months where he/she learns artistic skills, matures under a mentoring artist, gains hands-on job experience through an internship, and develops a scaled artistic project within his or her home community. We believe that such a personalized, lengthy program will increase chances for transformative success for participating apprentices.

LA2050 Metric; Measures of cultural and global economic influence: We believe that in order to diversify our artist and audience base, there must be organic inroads for artists to develop new work. We are interested in supporting developing multicultural artists who will in turn create strong artistic work within their communities and serve as ambassadors for the Arts District as a place that supports and nurtures talent.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

We will utilize participant surveys including satisfaction scales to gauge feedback. We will examine benchmarks and program milestones using an organizational development growth scale. As this is a pilot program, our primary goal is to make sure that each participant completes the full program. There are clear benchmarks by which we can define progress:

• Completion of the artistic basic skills training (certificate awarded) • Completion of the mural under the mentoring muralist • Completion of the Internship • Completion of the artistic project within the home communities • Retention of apprentices, mentors, and teaching artists throughout the full duration of the program. We will also check in with the apprentices during the following year to see if the program has successfully led to part-time/full time job or educational opportunities as artists.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

  • Tagging costs the city an average of 30 million dollars per year in direct and indirect costs (ie repeated removal, equipment, trucks and labor in LA county, etc.) In response to these findings, the Office of Council District 14 invited LADADSpace to develop a project to help mentor at-risk youth and troubled artists in the community.

  • As LADADSpace has grown and expanded over the last ten years, we have learned that in order for artists on the fringe of the Arts District to feel a part of the community, established in-roads and programs must be created to welcome them. This program is designed to integrate apprentices over an extensive period of professional art making in the city of Los Angeles, and we are excited to build new relationships between artists in the district and beyond!

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

The program is already underway. We have secured a wall at the West Coast Roofing building in downtown Los Angeles designated for this program, and muralist Saber has already begun the pre-planning. In addition we are in development with three other businesses in the downtown area. All listed partners have committed to the project and our timeline extends through the summer of 2015.

Project Timeline

Late Sumer and Early Fall • Organize schedule • Securing mural walls (ongoing) • Hiring mentor muralists and teaching artists • Establishing written agreements between partners and “rules” of program • Selection of arts apprentices assigned from LA County District Attorney’s Office

Fall and Early Winter 2014 • Apprentices are paired with mentor muralists and begin work (muralists may be at different stages with each project) • Apprentices receive training from art instructors who will evaluate their artistic skills and provide related assignments.

Winter 2015 • Apprentices receive certificates indicating completion of the mural apprenticeship program • Turnover of mural wall space opening up walls that are finished • Warner Bros./Additional Studio internships

Spring and Summer 2015 • Apprentices conduct small arts project in their home communities • Apprentices receive program reference(s) for jobs and/or higher education opportunities

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

• Culture Clashes: We are introducing established artists with apprentice artists who are likely brand new to the Arts District and to the experience of formalized art making. There may be some communication and cultural gaps as these groups get to know each other and learn how to work together and communicate. Fortunately the professional muralists have expressed that they too struggled with the law in their youth for graffiti and tagging, and feel they can relay their experience and insights with the apprentices. We also believe that artistic synergy between all of the artists will generate a common interest and base for communication.

• Project Time frame: This is by design a long-term multifaceted project, dependent on one-on-one relationships. While the project will move forward with or without funding, we would love to be able to support apprentices beyond their community service obligation with arts project and internship stipends. In addition, the ability to pay an honorarium to teaching artists and muralists also is a show of respect and appreciation.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)