The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture announced on Tuesday the official adoption of a new Countywide Cultural Policy by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, a policy that they are proudly proclaiming as “the first of its kind in the nation.”
Promising robust and intentional investment in cultural infrastructure that supports artists and nonprofit cultural organizations, the policy recognizes in its text that a system of interdepartmental coordination, accountability, and deliberately crafted, pragmatic inclusivity has not only value but urgency. The policy is the result of a process that began like everything in government, with endless committees and approval to fund studies which generated more committees and eventually the text of this policy. However the timing of its official adoption this week could not be more salient, as the issues it tackles are currently top of mind.
“Arts and culture play a critical role in the economic and social resiliency of L.A. County, not just in our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest, but also in the long-term health and vitality of our community,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis in a statement. “By adopting the Countywide Cultural Policy, L.A. County prioritizes equity in the arts and recognizes that cultural inclusion is vital to the health and well-being of our communities.”
A notable passage from the Policy’s text includes that acknowledgement that, “Despite the many benefits of the arts, due to historic and systemic inequity and disinvestment, not all communities have had equal access to cultural resources, representation, public sector investments, and opportunities to participate in cultural life through the arts. Ensuring access to the arts and cultural equity is important for the long-term viability of the cultural sector and quality of life for all in the county.”
Along with a number of specific plans to include and incorporate the arts across more departments within government as well as in more actions across all aspects of the civic landscape, the text further calls out the need to “Identify ways to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land at county public events and ceremonial functions and celebrate the contributions of culture bearers and traditional arts practices of diverse communities.”
Also in a statement, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture Director Kristin Sakoda writes, “Everyone has the right to participate fully in the cultural life of their community, to enjoy the arts and to benefit from them. Arts and culture have a role to play in addressing complex issues and supporting inclusion across sectors of our civic lives, from education, youth development, justice, and workforce to infrastructure, neighborhood revitalization, economy, health, well-being, and more. Investing in the arts is investing in our communities — now is a time to expand the ways we do that with a view to cultural equity.”
Read the full text of the policy and the history its creation at lacountyarts.org.