create / 2015

Empowering Artists with Disabilities to Fill the Creative Industry Employment Gap

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Tierra del Sol Foundation

1 in 6 children are being born with developmental disabilities - such as Autism and Down syndrome - requiring lifelong support, adding to over 830,000 California adults with developmental disabilities. Our cultural landscape will be stunted if we don’t help the artists among this population to express themselves. Tierra will identify people who are artistically gifted, and empower them to build careers, increasing employment in creative industries such as animation, ceramics, and commercial art.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Mobilize for systems change

How will your proposal improve the following “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Jobs per capita

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to create.

Tierra’s Fine Arts program combines individualized support with professional instruction to empower individuals, with significant disabilities, to build careers in the arts. The program integrates a variety of art forms to allow participants to identify and cultivate their passion, while speaking to different audiences. Almost 140 people each day explore their interest and talents in the arts, through painting, drawing, and ceramics, at Tierra’s First Street Gallery Art Center and Sunland Studio Arts. Tierra has enabled over 10% of the people we serve (70 of 660) to become professional artists.

Artists with moderate to severe developmental disabilities develop their artistic skills, create art, and display and sell their work throughout Los Angeles County. Tierra Fine Arts is a year-round program that provides individualized instruction each weekday. The program is comprised of:

(1) Professional Arts Career Training Tierra provides professional training, by instructors who support artists in building their arts résumé, and guide development of career skills such as writing artist statements, creating exhibition themes, and selecting and installing art for exhibitions. These skills prepare the artists to market their complete, fully-developed résumés.

Each participant develops a personalized plan for career goals, independent transportation, and social skills. This plan might include developing their career skills by volunteering at non-profit organizations. Artists, in the Tierra Fine Arts program, teach arts and serve vulnerable populations at non-profits including: Joslyn Senior Center, daCenter for the Arts, and Emerson Village Assisted Living.

(2) Art Creation Artists are invited to create and submit work for consideration in exhibitions. For a recent exhibition, called “The Open Road”, Tierra artist Joe Zaldivar created and submitted an illustration of Hamer Toyota’s lobby. This piece was featured in the announcement, at the artist reception held at Hamer, and has become a permanent piece of art in the dealer’s lobby since March.

(3) Promotion and Exhibition Tierra staff members identify exhibitions that build artists résumés and share work. Tierra builds relationships with galleries and local businesses to increase the reach of the artwork at 6 or more exhibitions each year. As a result, people in Los Angeles have an example of how they, and their family or friends with disabilities, can overcome challenges to achieve their goals.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Tierra Fine Arts will engage new audiences in the painting, sculptures, and illustrations produced by artists with developmental disabilities. As a result, Tierra will achieve the following objectives:

Objective 1 – Tierra will continue to maintain full capacity of quality art programs, helping 140 people each day (260 each week) improve their skills in the fine arts, work ethic, productivity, workplace conduct, safety skills, communication skills, mobility skills, and money skills.

Objective 2 – Seventy (70) artists, with moderate to severe developmental disabilities, will build their professional arts resume by publicly exhibiting their work.

Objective 3 –Tierra will increase exhibition attendance by 10-15%. The sales, exhibitions, and attendance will be monitored and compared to prior years’, to determine if changes made in that year positively or negatively impacted the community’s involvement.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support