create Winner / 2019
Bring Art Back to Venice
Venice Community Housing (VCH) kindly requests support for its art installation project, an activity of the organization’s Arts Community Collective (ArtsC2), in order to bridge the gap between art & architecture as it relates to affordable housing. The project is a manifestation of this purpose, as VCH works to add mural paintings and art installations to its permanent supportive housing & affordable housing properties.
What does your organization do?
To reduce homelessness, maximize affordable housing, empower low-income people, provide social services, & advocate for policy that strengthens the economic, racial & cultural diversity of Venice.
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
- Ivo Vergara, artist
- Henry Lipkis, artist
- Safe Place For Youth (SPY)
- Venice Arts Council
- 18th Street Arts
- Beyond Baroque
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
Tito is a longtime resident at VCH’s 200 Lincoln Blvd. property, a supportive housing development for formerly chronically homeless individuals. Tito has lived in Venice since 1963 when Venice was a much different place than it is now. While Venice is gentrifying at a rapid rate, Tito says this is not a new fight. In the ’80s-‘90s he saw many friends and family members evicted from their homes. Tito advocated for affordable housing in the ‘90s by attending marches and demonstrations. At the same time, Tito faced his own struggles with drug addiction. He recounted his trips to county rehabilitation facilities, with relapses in between, recalling that the final time he went to rehab and got clean, “I was surprised I wasn’t dead already.” As Tito struggled with his sobriety, he also found himself living on the street. He described these conditions as leaving him to feel “not even like a human being.”
In 2005, Tito was connected to VCH and secured permanent supportive housing. He admitted that he has “survivors’ guilt”, because there are so many people still on the street suffering — many who are people he grew up with in Venice and has known since childhood. Tito said he feels incredible grateful for his housing, even for the simple things like a place to wash dishes and take a shower.
Tito is also a well-known Venice artist. He knew he had artistic talent since in elementary school, and recalls creating finger paintings of cowboys that he saw on television. Tito went on to be a multimedia artist as an adult. He laments that Venice is not the artist community it once was, as most artists have been pushed out because of soaring housing costs. As a result, he feels “the flavor of Venice has become bland.” He notes that while there are some artists here in Venice, many are not true Venetians, but rather wealthier people coming from other parts of LA.
Tito’s is one of the faces that will be featured on VCH’s first mural on Lincoln Blvd— Tito’s home for the last 14 years. As a longtime resident of Venice and tenant with VCH, and an artist with a unique look and style, Tito was an obvious choice for someone VCH wants to honor and memorialize through public art.
Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?
- Employment in the creative industries
- Arts establishments per capita
- Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
How will your project make LA the best place to create?
ArtsC2 consists of VCH staff, tenants, local artist, and volunteers, who will manage this project. ArtsC2 will further VCH’s advocacy strategies by incorporating art projects into existing and new housing developments. VCH tenants and program participants will give feedback on design and participate in the creation of art. Through art installations, ArtsC2 hopes to highlight that the formerly homeless who now live in supportive housing care about their homes and take pride in contributing to their community.
Participants of Venice YouthBuild, one of VCH’s programs, will also assist with art installations. YouthBuild provides 18-24 youth from low-income and underserved backgrounds with education, job training, and leadership development. All participants are AmeriCorps members and their work on this project will count towards their required AmeriCorps hours.
ArtsC2 includes external committee members, many of whom come from other organizations, such as Beyond Baroque, 18th Street Arts, and Venice Arts Council. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will be the primary tool to identify and hire local artists. Other tactics include inviting community members to participate in creating art and hosting unveiling celebrations at the completion of each project. Community engagement strategies include building relationships with artists and art organizations, hosting tenant meetings to get feedback on art concepts, and canvasing in surrounding neighborhoods with information about the projects.
VCH’s first mural will take place at a building that includes housing for 13 formerly chronically homeless individuals. VCH hired artist Ivo Vergara, who has created a design that features portraits of Venice natives, community activists, and VCH tenants.
VCH serves over 1,300 individuals annually. This includes homeless and low-income adults, youth, and children living in the communities of Venice, Mar Vista and Del Rey. 100% of those served by VCH are low-income. More than 30% of current tenants have experienced homelessness prior to residing with VCH. Public art installations will also serve the greater community and the nearly 30,000 tourist who visit Venice Beach on a daily basis (City of LA Dept. of Rec. and Parks).
VCH’s first mural will begin mid-April. The timeline for art installations on 4 additional buildings will be as follows: May: Distribute RFQ and compile list of potential artists. July: Finalize artist selection and begin community engagement for Project #1 at 4215 Centinela Ave. Aug — Sept.: Artist creates installation and unveiling party. Oct. - Dec: Repeat process for Project #2, at 102 Navy St. Feb-April: Repeat preparation process for Project #3, at 4429 Inglewood Blvd. May-July: Repeat preparation process for Project #4, at 920 Sixth Ave.
VCH will work towards the following goals: Add additional members to ArtsC2; Complete art installations on schedule; Identify and gather at least 300 permanent and affordable housing supporters.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Pilot project (testing a new idea on a small scale to prove feasibility)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Success will be defined by creating art installations on 4 of VCH’s properties by summer of 2020. VCH will measure this by monitoring that the hired artists complete their projects in the given timeframe, that each project has 2 community engagement meetings prior to beginning the art installation, and by gaining at least 300 supporters for its supportive and affordable housing developments, as measured by the submission of support letters.
VCH will also measure the success of each event by developing a set of “Lesson’s Learned” at the completion of each installation. This will provide insight on what worked, what didn’t work and what can be improved on in order to make the next art installation even better.