create Winner / 2015

Los Angeles Review of Books Enabling LA Creativity

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Los Angeles Review of Books

LARB will profile LA writers and artists every day of the year, making the country and world aware of their work, increasing their ability to sustain creative lives by building the requisite critical understanding and infrastructure, and giving LA writers and artists the exposure they need to compete.


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

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Antelope Valley

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

  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Bring the world to LA.

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

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)
  • Recruiting and retention rates for local higher education institutions (Dream Metric)
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating (Dream Metric)

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

LA has a growing creative community in all the arts. Every week, a new publishing venture launches, a new theater space or new gallery opens, and every day many thousands of us work on a novel or screenplay or song, paint or sculpt, do new media arts, design a building, a dress, or a stage set, or begin filming. But not all of these projects find their audience, locally, nationally, or internationally, and not all can sustain careers over time.

What LARB can do is help build the audience base for LA’s creative activity, bring news and understanding and appreciation of these projects to our hundreds of thousands of readers across the country and elsewhere—10% of our readers are in CA, 60% in the rest of the country, and 30% overseas—and many are editors, critics, curators, and grantmakers around the globe. By helping create the local, national, and international audience for LA’s artists, we help them put food on their tables and enable their practice, help them pay the rent and create again. For writers and publishers to sell books, artists to sell work and performers tickets and recordings, they need to come to the attention of galleries, distributors, tastemakers, and the press. Reviews like LARB are an important part of that artistic ecology, especially here, since NY reviews have overwhelmingly focused on writers and artists from the East Coast.

LARB is one of the country’s most successful attempts to decentralize and diversify the artistic and literary conversation; we publish more diverse writers and review more diverse artists; and the more attention our LA artists receive, the more support they can receive, and the more sustainable their practice can be. In addition, since most of the people who do critical writing are themselves artists, in hiring them to write for us, we are helping to support each of them directly as well, in a small way, by paying them for their writing, writing that itself brings them to the attention of a global audience. If a sculptor carves a tree in the woods and no one sees it, her art has not fulfilled its promise; LARB’s soft power can foster and help sustain new arts establishments and creative industries, increase the visibility of women and minority artists, increase recruiting and retention rates for local higher education institutions, allow graduates to stay here rather than move to NY, and elevate the global influence of LA’s artistic achievements, making LA an even better place to create.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

We have already been successful in launching and helping sustain the careers of many young LA writers, artists, and critics, and have tracked that success. We collect detailed data on our website’s readership, and we can tell how many people read each of the pieces we publish, and can cross reference that to where the readers are located. We also have records of the writers who have contributed to LARB so far, where they reside, their race, ethnicity, gender, and other identifications, and we have the same data about the writers and artists they review, write essays about, and interview. This grant will help us identify a broader number of writer-critics and have them comment and introduce audiences to a broader swath of LA artists from even more diverse communities. We can track the dissemination of that information across social media networks, in other online conversations, and in the legacy media by measuring increased links, citations, mentions, and other media attention.

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

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support