create Finalist / 2019
A Permanent Home for WCCW!
In early 2020, WCCW's five year lease will be up, and we will set out to cooperatively purchase a permanent home for the organization. The security of a space is fundamental in continuing to serve the community of women and nonbinary creative practitioners that has synthesized around WCCW, and to grow our collective resource offerings including a co-work space, artist in residence program and exhibition space, a print lab and press, a feminist library, and many programs, events, and workshops.
What does your organization do?
The Women’s Center for Creative Work is a LA-based intersectional feminist arts space that is building community & elevating the work of women & non-binary artists, makers, & creative practitioners.
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
In 2013, co-founders Kate Johnston, Katie Bachler and Sarah Williams all went and saw the exhibition “Doin’ it in Public” at Otis College of Art and Design. The exhibition was part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time and exhibited a vast sampling of the archival print and design materials from The Woman’s Building. Before that day, we knew very little about The Woman’s Building, or the Feminist Studio Workshop—the feminist art school run out of the space—but we left the show deeply inspired and invested in finding where this intersection of artmaking and feminism might be in contemporary Los Angeles.
With no luck in finding something similar, we decided to gather our communities to discuss. We started with no intention of forming an organization. In the beginning we hosted a series of dinners, first one out in the desert where Katie was living at the time, and the second in the shadow of the historic Woman’s Building in Downtown L.A. The communities that came out to these events swelled, in numbers and enthusiasm, and pushed us towards establishing something that would have more longevity—a place where these types of conversations and community building could happen on a regular basis.
Excitedly we entered into a “Year Long Laboratory” where we examined histories, economies, community, and space as it would effect this burgeoning organization. Serendipitously, at the end of the year, we applied and received a grant from spART, which allowed us to take a leap of faith, paying a deposit and the first two months rent on a space. Since that time in Spring 2015, we’ve built this organization into a robust and impactful nonprofit organization with over 550 contributing members, and thousands of people attending programs annually. It has become clear that the desire we had for a feminist creative space, was one that was shared by many creative practitioners throughout L.A. and beyond.
Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?
- Minority- and women-owned firms
- Arts establishments per capita
- Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- East LA
How will your project make LA the best place to create?
The Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to cultivate Los Angeles’ feminist creative communities and practices. Since its founding in 2013, WCCW has evolved into an undeniably critical institution in LA. WCCW presents programming that delivers participants with essential tools and skills, critical spaces for dialogue, research and creation, outlets for exposure and expression, all inside of a designated safe and open space.
Since opening our doors in Spring 2015, WCCW has presented over 1200 programs which have showcased the work of thousands of feminist creative practitioners and brought more than 30,000 people through our doors. WCCW provides physical space, educational experiences, and conceptual platforms that foster the growth of thriving creative practices. We host an engaged community that models the imagination and ingenuity that artists contribute to their environments. Providing a place and platforms for folks to create new works of art, workshop, explore new disciplines, thoughtfully dialogue about race, religion, class, immigration, sexism, trauma and offer outlets, alternatives, and plans for action. WCCW is a truly intersectional institution enhancing the lives of artists in LA and beyond. WCCW’s headquarters function as a creative co-working space for our 450+ members, with resources including a print studio, kitchen, and an in-house feminist library of over 5,000 volumes, as well as a venue where performances, readings, workshops, theater pieces, installations, and more take place almost nightly.
We have done all of this out of a small space in Elysian Valley for the past four years. With just one more year on our lease, we are applying to LA2050 to garner initial funds to help us collectively purchase a building and move into a permanent home. This $100,000 would serve partially to fund WCCW’s stake in the building, and partially for any necessary maintenance or build out. We would work collaboratively with a few other members of our expended community who would also purchase shares in the cooperatively owned building. To fund any remaining costs, WCCW will take out a bank loan that will be paid off monthly, at a rate comparable to our current rent costs.
From late Spring through early Fall 2019, we will be working to secure financial commitments from potential partners. In Fall and Winter we will work to establish the legal structures that will allow for the purchasing process, secure necessary bank loans, and start identifying buildings. By early Spring we will purchase a building and begin any necessary maintenance or buildout, and by May 2020 we will transition the organization to the new space.
In a time of explosive commercial development and gentrification, purchasing a permanent home for WCCW feels like one of the few ways to guarantee the longevity of the organization, community, and creative work that takes place here.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
For this project, how we would define success, is the ability to successfully purchase a building within the next year. This main components of this success would include creating the legal structure that would allow for investors to collectively purchase; identifying and gaining commitments from investors; securing a bank loan; and identifying a building within our budget.
Additionally, the building would offer better distribution of space, allowing for more residency and exhibition, as well as programming space. We would also like expanded co-working space and areas for shared resources like woodworking equipment, studio space, and a ceramics set-up with a kiln.