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create / 2016

Taking boxcar+muse from Pop-Up to Permanent: Making Space for LA Women to Create, Connect, and Learn

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by boxcar+muse

boxcar+muse will go from pop-up to permanent, cultivating a year-round creative camp and learning lab for women, doubling our workshop series and club programming, and offering 130 new sponsorships.

Please describe your project proposal.

boxcar+muse will go from pop-up to permanent, providing its growing community with a year-round creative camp and learning lab, doubling its workshop series and club programming, and offering 130 new sponsorships for women.

By providing women with the inspiration, tools, space, and comradery for regular creative exercise and experiences, boxcar+muse hopes to democratize the process, making innovation and self-discovery outside of work or family a vital habit for Los Angeles women.

Which of the create metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Arts establishments
  • Manufacturing activity
  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Jobs per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Patents per capita
  • 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?

  • East LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

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

Once our basic needs are met we graduate to deep and driving needs for belonging, challenge, accomplishment, and self-actualization. boxcar+muse exists to meet those needs by providing women with the inspiration, tools, space, and comradery they need to live their fullest lives.

We envision a culture where flexing our creative muscles, innovating, and engaging in self-discovery is as accepted, vital, and popular a practice as is going to a gym or fitness class. boxcar+muse will help make LA the best place to CREATE by fostering this culture—welcoming women into an imaginative and safe space in which to work and play, providing creative tools and programming, and growing a diverse and inclusive community—and populating LA with the ideas, projects, businesses, relationships, and magical anecdotes that grow from it.

As proof-of-concept in a temporary location, and in just six months, boxcar+muse has connected almost 100 diverse women, taking them on creative journeys together via expert-led workshops on subjects ranging from felt-making, gardening, and improv to decision-making, financial literacy, and goal-setting. We’ve hired over a dozen local artisans and experts and forged relationships with local studios and businesses. Many friendships and barters have sprung from the “boxcarmunity” as have several collaborations, professional opportunities, and at least two Etsy shops.

We can do so much more!

Opening our doors full time will enable us to expand membership and programming, to house tools and creative equipment, to set up private and shared work areas, and to provide members with the safe, un-programmed, do-whatever-you-want fallow time and space that’s necessary to both creative process and self-care. We’ll be able to multiply our work and play sponsorship and to formalize inclusion programs. We’ll also be able to increase the breadth and depth of our offerings when member-driven clubs like The Accomplices (for racial, gender, and economic anti-oppression training and action) or All Hands on Deck (for civic and social volunteering) have regular meeting space and resources, and when we can hire series leaders for the year rather than for a month at a time. And our curated space will allow us to both incubate and promote members’ work.

boxcar+muse, itself a women-owned arts establishment, believes that inspiring women to regularly explore creativity and innovation like this will lead to gains in CREATE metrics like employment, arts establishments, women-owned firms, patents and manufacturing, and graduates-retention. We have already shown demonstrable and ongoing gains in CONNECT and PLAY metrics such as access to free WiFi, social and emotional support, cultural events, local social media friends and connections for Angelenos, and the number and quality of informal play spaces.

We believe Los Angeles, and the world, will be a safer and even more magnificent place when women are continuously engaged in the joy of exercising their genius.

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

Success is significant and ongoing progress in the direction of our vision: to provide every woman with the inspiration, tools, space, and comradery she needs to live her fullest life. We measure it using an expanded form of the following dashboard:

Quantitative o Members, participants o Member retention o Referrals o Active sponsorships (20% min.) o Women we employ/contract o Web site visits converted to live visits o Volunteer hours o Members within 5, 10, and 25 miles

Qualitative o Testimonials o Member-driven clubs o Projects, businesses, collaborations, and hires “born in the boxcar” o Comparison of diversity index to local demographics o Partnerships with local orgs o Relationships formed

We use interview, survey, discussion, observation, and web analytics to collect data, allowing us to measure numbers but also to capture the relationships, emotion, and stories that are such strong indicators of our success.

Take the bookkeeper who visits two or three times a month: she reads or builds something; she has easy conversation unrelated to work or family and even tells someone her middle name, unused since marriage; she leaves feeling healthy-minded and joyful. She doesn’t start a company or singing lessons, or write a memoir. She isn’t on a dashboard. But she’s also a success story. Because the process of creating or having a hobby “for its own sake” has healthy and transformative results, and ripple effects from a healthy community can spread across a city and beyond…

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

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research