connect / 2018

The Art Barge: a traveling, interactive archive of art and culture precedents along the LA River.

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge by LA River Public Art Project (c/o ERW Design)

An interactive history of the art that has flourished along the LA River, the Art Barge will travel to River parks and cultural centers to activate communities along the LA River and beyond.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

The Art Barge is a pop-up event, a public art installation, and a living archive of the cultural history of the LA River. Transported by truck, with 6-week ‘dockings’ at a proposed 12 river sites, its arrival will be the catalyst for coordinated site-specific arts and educational events. Together with local arts organizations, neighborhood councils, and community arts activists, the Art Barge will collect, present, and activate a new wave of ‘localism’ and a deepened cultural heritage for all.

Which of the connect metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Attendance at cultural events
  • Attendance at public/open streets gatherings
  • Rates of volunteerism

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to LEARN
  • LA is the best place to CREATE
  • LA is the best place to PLAY
  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

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
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • We will work at sites along the entire 51-mile length of the LA River and its surrounding communities within the LA watershed/LA Basin.

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Advocate for policy
  • Digital organizing or activism
  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements
  • Influence individual behavior
  • Connect Angelenos with impactful volunteer opportunities
  • Increase donations to organizations and causes
  • Angelenos will be activated by sharing their own stories and recollections of their own art sightings along the River.

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to connect?

Gather, Collect. Activate, Connect.

The Art Barge is a traveling, interactive, living archive. It is, in itself, an activation. Its unique design and dual function as an archive will attract people of all ages and backgrounds. The activities around the barge ‘dockings’ will invite people to connect to each other and to their community.

As a living artifact for the collection of diverse stories that weave together to form a multi-faceted public place identity, these stories of public art and culture will contribute to the meaning of the River’s communities, reconstituting “communities of memory” that bridge and preserve historical with contemporary public art and cultural projects.

The LA River Public Art Project can serve as a facilitator; the communities will lead, explore, and add their stories and recollections of art events along the River. Arts and cultural activities will be presented, discussed, reviewed, and selected in conjunction with individual site partners.

Each of the proposed 12 docking sites will consider how to best tailor events, programs, and coordinate with neighborhood community organizations, businesses and residents.

Our team’s art historian and curator will bring additional perspective to the art installations, events, speaker/music series, and educational activities. While the barge will draw its county-wide audiences, local dockings will provide local residents unique access cultural events and volunteer opportunities.

The Art Barge will be designed to increase awareness of the cultural history of the River, entice people to go a park they may have never visited before, have a picnic along the River, engage with neighbors and community members at events and activities, encourage local and neighborhood organizations to develop associate events to coincide with Art Barge dockings, and enhance awareness of the cultural history of the LA River.

Potential sites include: Canoga Park High School and Pierce College, Woodland Hills (Mile 51); Lautner Building, Winnetka (Mile 49); Reseda City Park, Reseda (Mile 47); Sepulveda Basin Recreational Area, Encino (Mile 45/44); Weddington Park, Studio City (Mile 37); North Atwater Park (Mile 29-30); Sunnynook Park, Atwater Village (Mile 28-29); Louis MacAdams Park, Elysian Valley (Mile 26); Bowtie Parcel, Atwater Village (Mile 26); Ed P Reyes River Greenway, Lincoln Heights (Mile 25); Los Angeles State Historic Park, Chinatown (Mile 23-24); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boyle Heights (Mile 22-23); Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement Project, Arts District (Mile 21); Park Elementary School, Cudahy Park, Cudahy (Mile 14); Hollydale Regional Park, South Gate (Mile 13); Paramount / Dills Park / Clinton Elementary, Domingues High School, Mark Keppel Elementary, Whaley Middle School, Compton (Mile 9); Drake Park Community Center, Long Beach (Miles 1-3), and more to be identified by local communities!

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to connect

Activation? Connection? Think about the rock travelling through LA before it got to LACMA, or the first landing of the Airbus 380 at LAX: spontaneous and unexpected crowds showing up to see something great. No programming, no community directed announcements: just joy.

Our ‘connect’ activation strategy is mobility in reverse. To quote a well-worn phrase by Francis Bacon, “If Mohammed won’t go to the mountain, bring the mountain to him.” The Art Barge is envisioned as a temporary public art installation, docking at local sites, an event, a moment in history.

Activation is a local strategy.

Our ‘connect’ tactic is to provide a resource - and a stimulus. The interactive archive housed in the Art Barge will be content flexible: less data crunching, more hands-on, more connective. As cultural history is collected, viewed, and recorded, the breadth of the heritage of the River and its communities will strengthen the River’s cultural value to the community.

Our ‘connect’ tool is the Art Barge. To be custom-designed by Ball-Nogues Studio, it will not only be public art, but will also house on-site WiFi, interactive activities, archival intake, and site-specific curated activities for all-ages. Working with local organizations and art constituencies, steeped in the knowledge and networks of each community, a diverse array of events and activities will emerge for each site.

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

Each of the three metrics we have selected will have its own measurement tool.

We will impact the first metric — attendance at cultural events — though an increase in numbers of attendance in each community by 1-2% of the current County-wide figure of 12% who have attended a museum and 18% who have attended live performances. As visitors come through to the venue, volunteers will distribute and collect a unique numbered survey and ask them to take a 3-question survey.

The second metric — attendance at public/open street gatherings — is a dream metric that we have identified a way to quantify. We propose utilizing city licenses issued for public events in the previous three years for establish a baseline for number of days there were public/open street gatherings in each community. We will add the number of Art Barge’s days of operation/public events to the current year’s city licenses issued to ascertain increase in percentage of in public/open street gatherings for that year.

The third selected metric — rates of volunteerism — will be increased in each community by 1-2% of the current countywide figure of 20% who have volunteered formally. We propose creating a survey at volunteer intake/orientation days to quantify the numbers of participants.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

In 5 years, we hope the Art Barge living archive will have a permanent home along the River, that Angelenos come to the River to view and participate in art installations and events, and are inspired by the legacies of the River’s diverse communities. We envision a future river of curated public spaces, visitors arriving by bicycle or kayak or Metro, enjoying a break at a reclaimed and revitalized River.

We envision the LA River Public Art Project actively engaged in cultural development, and funded and staffed with paid employees and enthusiastic volunteers. We hope to have an established mentoring program to expand cultural and art awareness as we reach across local, regional, and global audiences.