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PSSST 2017: Artists Supporting Artists

PSSST 2017: Artists Supporting Artists

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by PSSST

PSSST will amplify Los Angeles’ role as an international arts center by expanding our 2017 interdisciplinary programming, which is driven by the concept of artists supporting artists.


Please describe your project proposal.

PSSST will cultivate and amplify Los Angeles’ role as an international arts center by expanding our 2017 interdisciplinary programming that includes: LA Artist Residency, Inter/National Residency, Young Artist Fellowship, Community Conversations, Crit Club, exhibitions and performances, film screenings, lectures, and live music. Our 2017 programming, driven by the concept of artists supporting artists, will present 80 underrepresented artists at 50 events for more than 5000 audiences.

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”)
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating

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

  • Central LA

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

LA is becoming the US capital for contemporary art, attracting artists through cheaper rents and ample space. In an inscrutable and hierarchical art world, where few artists live off of sales of their work, PSSST is committed to sustainability for artists and diversity in the art world. With a 20-year rent-free lease, a professionally-equipped Boyle Heights facility, and artist-driven programming, PSSST is integral to LA serving the local arts ecosystem.

PSSST was founded on the principle of artists supporting artists through fair compensation, community-building, interdisciplinary experimentation, and exchange between diverse communities through exhibitions, events, artist residencies, lectures, screenings, educational programs, and support for new work. PSSST actively works with artists underrepresented in institutions and in the art market–women, POC, LGBTQ, and artists whose work is not easily monetized.

Founded in 2013, PSSST’s 2000 sqft, exhibition/performance space opened to the public in June 2016. PSSST boasts an Inter/National Residency and a Local Residency, both of which provide artists with live/work space and substantial stipends. Inter/National Residents thus far include: Marissa Perel, a self-identified disabled and queer choreographer, Elliot Jenetopolous, a transgender Lighting Designer, and our current resident Carver Audain, an African-American sound artist; Audain’s residency will culminate in a solo exhibition in October 2016. Local Artist in-Residence Guadalupe Rosales is a queer Chicana whose archival project on the Chicano party crews and ditch parties of the 90’s will result in a solo show in January 2017.

Since opening in June, PSSST has hosted a large-scale and internationally-recognized exhibition, 3 Community Conversations, 8 public programs that included film screenings, experimental music performances, and panel discussions that featured 37 artists and served over 1100 audience members.

In 2017, PSSST will host 6 Inter/National residents, 3 Local residents, 2 Young Artist Fellows, 6 Community Conversations on intersectional topics ranging from gentrification to queer space, and a monthly Crit Club where 15 invited artists will gather to discuss their work. PSSST will host 4 exhibitions and 24 events that will include performances, film screenings, lectures, and live music. PSSST will present and compensate 80 underrepresented artists at over 50 events for more than 5000 audience members/visitors.

PSSST staff are all working artists. Co-director Jules Gimbrone is a queer, non-binary, transgender performance and sound-based artist and composer. Co-director Barnett Cohen, a first-generation American, is a queer Jewish cisgendered man, who works in text and sculpture. Community Outreach Coordinator Pilar Gallego is a transgender Latinx artist. Young Artist Fellow, Brenzy Solorzano, is an undocumented Chicana developing a long-term exhibition project.

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

PSSST will consider our project successful if we:

-Compensate our all-artist staff and interns

-Host 9 artists-in-residence (6 from outside LA, 3 from LA)

-Present 50 public programs to at least 5000 audience members

-Pay $35,000 in artist fees

-Provide 2,000 sq ft in in-kind studio space

-Attract audiences that are predominantly artists, LGBTQ communities, women, and people of color

-Receive financial support from at least 2 public funding sources

-Provide artists with opportunities and professional development through PSSST’s holistic support which includes professionally-equipped facility, comprehensive social media marketing, financial support, administrative assistance, and connections to key curators and programmers across Los Angeles

-Establish our non-profit organization as a key stakeholder in Los Angeles’ contemporary arts landscape that is known for supporting underserved artists

-Attract critical coverage by at least 5 local and 5 national art news sources

-Grow our Board of Directors by 30%

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

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support