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create / 2016

Shared Space for Community Engaged Creative Practice

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Cornerstone Theater Company

Cornerstone envisions a home that provides a shared space for Angelenos to come together to create, collaborate and engage in dialogue acting as a site for civic engagement and creative practice.

Please describe your project proposal.

Building a coalition of practitioners from different fields, Cornerstone proposes the development of a Shared Space for Community Engaged Creative Practice. This shared space will serve as a public space for practitioners to create a cross-disciplinary ‘engagement commons;’ an open space filled with vibrant and diverse community-based approaches and projects that cultivates platforms from which communities of LA from all backgrounds can come together and engage in civic discourse and art-making.

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
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • City of Los Angeles

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

We envision a home that provides a shared space embedded in a neighborhood community for Angelenos to come together to create, collaborate and engage in dialogue bridging communities and acting as a site for civic engagement and creative practice. This shared space will not only be functional for Cornerstone as a home base, but will also catalyze a public space for the study and practice of community-based work. As we take steps towards a new physical building anchored in a Los Angeles neighborhood, we will invite in a broad coalition of local and regional community-based practitioners to create a cross-disciplinary “engagement commons;” an open space filled with vibrant and diverse community-based approaches and projects.

With LA2050, we will initiate discussion with potential institutional partners, and our network of community stakeholders—including community activists, community-engaged artists, nonprofit leaders, and city and county officials—to identify current needs, partners and challenges. Cornerstone is interested in how our community-engagement methodology, honed over thirty years of practice, might guide the development of the Community Space. Our discussion will lead to the hiring of a consultant to complete a feasibility study for a site and physical location.

Building a coalition of practitioners from different fields, we will begin forging the collective strength by forming discussion groups, mailing lists, sharing digital space and engaging in affinity marketing. We can collectively approach civic, commercial and political leaders for support and investment in realizing the Community Space. Shared resources that the space might provide to both Cornerstone and co-founding partners include thought partnership, rehearsal space, production or exhibition space, studios, and administrative offices. We can also envision joint efforts such as project-based collaborations and as a research hub to study and examine community-based art making practices. We envision creating opportunities for field leaders, especially artists of color, seniors and young people, to engage in dialogue, undertake residencies, build their work, experiment, and cooperate with similarly engaged colleagues.

We envision a shared space that is open to all forms of civic dialogue and empowerment even those outside of art making, for example as polling sites or as a meeting space for community activists. Regionally and nationally, the potential that such a space holds will be illuminating for the field-at-large, as more and more organizations seek methods of addressing lack of equity, diversity and inclusion in our increasingly multicultural society through creative practice and aesthetic outcomes. Empowering Angelenos towards ownership of their community leads to collective impact. Catalyzing this dialogue connects local leaders; bringing them to the table creates a common agenda, while striving towards systemic change.

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

Cornerstone has a culture of rigorous evaluation.

We are participating in a national study on the intrinsic impact of our audiences. We have begun working to develop tools that are an accumulation of the metrics of engagement: the number of interactions, length of activities, and demographics related to ethnicity and income.

To collect data we make paper questionnaires available to our audiences immediately after our performances, and follow up with email invitations to electronic surveys, which collect our audiences’ experiences, emotional impact, demographics, and identification with the play and subject matter of the production.

The pilot phase of the Community Space will include community focus groups and engagement activities. For these programmatic activities we will create a system for community input. We will measure and track participant responses.

The goal of the pilot phase of the project is to brainstorm and collect ideas on the potential of what the community space could be; therefore Cornerstone will be open to any and all feedback from all community stakeholders and leaders.

With this phase of the project, Cornerstone looks to identify organizational partners. A measurement of success will be 4 to 5 partners in mutual alignment for a community-engaged art making space.

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

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support