create / 2016

Agency of Assets

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA)

ICA LA creates exhibitions, education programs, and community partnerships that spark the pleasure of discovery and challenge the way we see and experience the world, ourselves, and each other.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

1. Legacy LA, 2. Pete Galindo, Founder & Managing Partner of Civic Center Studios

Please describe your project proposal.

ICA LA, in collaboration with arts advocate Pete Galindo and Legacy LA, will create Agency of Assets—an initiative designed to catalyze local high school youth into leadership roles in the arts and creative economy through engagement, experience, and employment. In its pilot stage, a cohort of twenty students will participate in a spring break immersion program, followed by mentorship meetings, summer job positions, and the creation of a pop-up art space in fall 2017.

Which of the create metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Arts establishments
  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)

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

  • Central LA
  • East LA

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to create?

ICA LA’s Agency of Assets will help make Los Angeles the best place to create by providing opportunities for local youth to pursue leadership roles within the booming creative sector.

ICA LA is a new contemporary art museum in Downtown Los Angeles, launched by core members of the former Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA). The organization’s new identity and 12,700-square-foot home in the Arts District, slated to open in Fall 2017, will serve as a hub for community members of all backgrounds and income levels.

LA is emerging as a global capital of cultural production. While broadening the reach of art is important for our region’s economic well-being and cultural vitality, the relationship between art and gentrification has never been more controversial. The depletion of manufacturing and the rise of creative industry has had an adverse effect on many of the surrounding low-income neighborhoods. As cultural institutions and businesses continue to propagate, the concerns of local residents become increasingly urgent.

As it prepares to open its doors, ICA LA is immersing itself in the local community and confronting issues of gentrification head on. Our LA2050 project intends to break down any barrier between arts organizations and adjacent communities—the “Us vs. Them” mentality—and to activate the museum as a forum for social change.

Agency of Assets is a three-part program: (1) spring break workshop intensive, (2) summer job placement, and (3) pop-up community art space.

The spring break intensive will expose students to diverse creative pathways through hands-on workshops, one-on-one mentorship, and daily excursions. Helen Campbell, analyst at the City of LA Housing and Community Investment Department, will collaborate with students to create a map of Los Angeles, analyzing shifting economic trends and identifying assets within the neighborhood. Participants will gain an understanding of the economic forces driving change in their neighborhoods, as well as the tools necessary to forge their own careers in the cultural sector. Each day of the one-week intensive, students will visit cultural institutions and participate in multi-disciplinary workshops.

For our second phase, ICA LA will partner with businesses, government entities, and nonprofits in the Arts District and Boyle Heights to develop one-month, full-time summer job positions. These paid learning experiences will span a number of creative fields in order to best meet students’ interests. These include architecture, graphic design, printmaking, urban planning, glass blowing, film production, and fashion design, among others.

Agency of Assets culminates with a pop-up arts space and event series, designed with the students based on what they have learned. By instilling local youth with agency, ICA LA will cultivate a new, diverse generation of arts professionals to participate in the City’s changing socioeconomic and cultural landscape.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

ICA LA’s goals include: 1) expose students to creative professions; 2) develop a dialogue to understand the social and economic forces that impact their neighborhood; 3) provide opportunities for students to gain their first work experience in the creative sector; and 4) forge meaningful, long-term partnerships between local community groups and creative businesses.

ICA LA will measure success of the pilot program based on the following:

  • Number of students who complete all three phases of the program (spring, summer, fall)
  • Percentage of students who are invited for additional opportunities with their summer employer
  • Number of students who return in 2018 to mentor the next cycle of participants
  • Employer satisfaction with the program
  • Feedback from students in the form of pre- and post-project evaluations (written and verbal)
  • Number of visitors to the pop-up arts space and series of cultural events
  • Breadth of participating business and organizations in the workshop series and internship placement program, which thus far includes Self-Help Graphics, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Linear City Development, Leadership Urban Renewal Network (LURN), Civic Center Studios, Fabian Debora (founder/artistic director of La Classe Art Academy), glassworks artist Jaime Guerrero, and the City of Los Angeles Departments of Housing and Planning, among others.

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

  • Money
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support