create / 2014

The L.A. Fort: Maintain Collective Autonomy for the Arts in Los Angeles

The L.A. Fort: Maintain Collective Autonomy for the Arts in Los Angeles

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by The L.A. Fort

Our goal is to create an ever-evolving space where the public can be fully emerged in participatory environments that include installations


Please describe yourself.

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

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Our goal is to create an ever-evolving space where the public can be fully emerged in participatory environments that include installations

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
  • We often produce events in other areas of the city

What is your idea/project in more detail?

In 2012 we opened The L.A. Fort with the idea of creating a place where the public could come learn new skills, teach each other, grow creatively, and invest in their own creative capital while maintaining social and environmental awareness and ensuring sustainability. Membership is open to the public for all to participate and enjoy.Our main struggle in fully realizing this idea has been acquiring permits for the performance arts space. We aim to acquire permanent permits in order to heavily involve the public.In the short amont of time ocupying our phisical space we have produced and curated a series of all inclusive programs and art events complete with full installations made and produced by our membership.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

We currently work out of a 5,000 sq ft space that is permitted for offices. To implement our idea, we would build more ADA accessible restrooms, change the permits for the space use to performance art space and offices. We will also be able to hire a permitting consultant and make small aesthetic changes to the space to make it more suitable for different audiences and community members.

We currently hold open workdays, yoga, craft nights, workshops, readings and other activities to promote community empowerment as well as low-income workspace and studio space but no event is quite as powerful the ones we became known for that fully immersed audiences in music and interactive art. Our events not only give Angelenos a chance to create something completely of its own but it allows the public to open their minds to what they too could accomplish. Our open platform gives the opportunity to people who may not think of themselves as artistically inclined to work in a group and create something much bigger than themselves while mixing art and music in a nontraditional way for Los Angeles.

This also gives us the chance to fund new programs proposed by the public and our membership through small investments and give the guidance they need to become self sufficient and create entrepreneurs.

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

Our aim is to become a neighborhood cultural institution by focusing on education and accessibility to LA contemporary artists. By empowering our base through meetings where members get to decide the direction of projects, we are creating community building experiences and building generations of community leaders.

Allowing people to take agency and ownership over space has proven to create stronger ties in a community through our experience. Our goal is to give that opportunity to as many people as will take it. By giving people the tools and space to empower each other, more projects and ideas are bound to find root.

Whom will your project benefit?

Our project benefits mainly the downtown and surrounding areas but our aim is to be a haven for all of Los Angeles county. Our membership takes part in different installations and events all over the county as a group and individually so our reach is much further than our physical location. We are intent on working with multi-faceted groups of different economic levels and age ranges and purposefully offer a scale of events to reflect our goal. Primarily our target age range is 18-55 although we work to include younger and older audiences through different mediums. We are open to all and do not discriminate but a large percent of our membership consists of strong women and encourage all women to take on leadership roles.

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

Pasadena Arts Council is our fiscal sponsor who has 50 years of experience in the arts in Los Angeles.

Arts:Earth Partnership - AEP spends its time working with arts organizations to expand their mission to include sustainability and to harness the immense creativity, innovation and leadership within the cultural sector to help solve the issues around pollution, climate change and the preservation of our precious natural resources. Most recently LACMA has been working on joining this network.

Zine Fest LA - L.A. Zine Fest is organized by a collective of zine-enthusiasts dedicated to promoting zine culture as a means to connect the pre-exisiting communities in L.A.–artistic or otherwise. This past year, we curated the library at Zine Fest LA and have held several smaller events at our space related to Zine Fest.

the WOMEN Group - the WOMEN Group is a collective of feminist writers who publish a zine and hold a monthly reading every third Tuesday at The L.A. Fort.

Vibe Coach Industries - VCI is an all inclusive musician management company that holds it’s headquarters at The L.A. Fort. It often collaborates with members of The L.A. Fort to make music videos, stage sets, designs, and poster art.

Mister Psychedelia - MP is an event, design and sound team focusing their productions production in alternative, community music & arts events and festivals. They help produce all in house events at the L.A. Fort as well as provide education on producing event. They hold quarterly sound engineering workshops open to the public and members of the L.A. Fort.

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

  • Employment in creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Jobs per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)
  • Recruiting and retention rates at local higher education institutions (Dream Metric)

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

As a young and emerging arts center, we have already directly and indirectly created jobs between members, other organizations and directly through The L.A. Fort itself. We always encourage and support the growth of other spaces as well. The L.A. Fort is a space to learn from each other as well as teach each other. Through our time bank, we are able to value members skills and time as assets. This allows us to involve people of different education levels with validity.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

We have quarterly performance reviews that we ask our patrons to complete as well as monthly public meetings where all input is welcome and encouraged. We collect most of our data through GoogleForms and Survey Monkey. We encourage honest feedback to properly re-calibrate our operations and are always looking to improve.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

  1. Developing a creative economy while building community amongst artist and musician can be very challenging and rewarding. In providing a space for the community to actively participate in alternative music and art we have seen first hand the collective spirit that enables the community to be the change they want to see happen and have a decisive voice in their future.

  2. There’s a definite need for physical space. Being able to provide space for groups to meet and collaborate has blossomed new friendships, business relationships and brought different communities together. The L.A. Fort is a canvas for the people who involve themselves and has given thousands of people exposure to different groups outside of what they’ve known. It’s also given artists and musicians a space to refine their craft, learn new skills and grow, contrasting with each other. It’s allowed people to find other people they work well with and collaborate outside of our space while still using The L.A. Fort as a home base.

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

We are a very hard working team. Our space is almost unrecognizable from when we moved in a little over a year and a half ago. Up until now, we have been totally self sufficient relying on the willingness of our community for material, financial, and time donations. We have already done the majority of the leg work, most important of which, creating a positive reputation. With the proper funding it would not take us long to reach our desired goal.

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

  1. The biggest barrier we face is the lack of funds to implement all of our ideas. We have a very strong team full of ambition and unique dreams that want to succeed and build new ways to participate in the music and arts in Los Angeles while creating creative economy and developing social and cultural awareness.

2.Permits can be a difficult process in Los Angeles but with our funding, we will be able to hire a permitting consultant to make sure that we are abiding by California law and can move forward successfully.

What resources does your project need?

  • Money (financial capital)