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Department of Arts and Culture Launches “PAiD,” A New Program to Support the Economic Empowerment of Underrepresented Artists in LA County

Department of Arts and Culture Launches “PAiD,” A New Program to Support the Economic Empowerment of Underrepresented Artists in LA County 347 133 COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

September 28, 2023
Kristin Friedrich, Director of Communications


Graphic Design by Handbuilt Studio.

Department of Arts and Culture Launches “PAiD,” A New Program to Support the Economic Empowerment of Underrepresented Artists in LA County

New Public Artists in Development (PAiD) program to provide professional development, mentorship, training, public art project opportunities, and advisory roles for artists, made possible with support from the Mellon Foundation.

The LA County Department of Arts and Culture (Arts and Culture) is thrilled to announce the launch of the Public Artists in Development (PAiD) program, a multi-year initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation that aims to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of public art while supporting the sustainability of the LA County creative economy with artists’ needs in mind.

The PAiD program has been designed to address many of the career challenges faced by artists. The program’s strategies expand opportunities for professional development and tackle historic and structural barriers to entering the field of public art, particularly for underrepresented and diverse artists, including those identifying as artists of color, artists with disabilities, Indigenous artists, LGBTQIA artists, self-taught artists, artists of non-traditional mediums, and emerging artists.

The $1.75 million grant funds the implementation of multiple PAiD program components. These components include the establishment of an Artist Council, temporary public art commissions, a year-long Public Art Apprenticeship, and a range of free professional development workshops and events.

This fall, the Artist Council will be the first component of PAiD to launch. The Artist Council is an eight-member group of artists selected to help inform Arts and Culture policies and practices to improve artist selection, outreach, engagement, and contracting in ways that better support artists. Each artist will also be granted a project budget to develop a temporary public artwork. Dyson & Womack, public art consultants, were selected to manage the Artist Council program including development of a series of policy discussions and the implementation of the temporary public art commissions. The first artist opportunities will become available in October, and there will be an open call for artists to apply to be part of the first Artist Council cohort. Artists can apply through the PAiD application portal at dysonwomack.com/paid.

The Public Art Apprenticeship opportunities will open in December, providing artists with one-on-one support and a project budget to complete their first public art projects. Additionally, free professional development workshops, delivered by Dyson & Womack in tandem with Arts and Culture, will kick off in early 2024. These workshops are geared toward equipping artists with transferable skills and resources and promoting community partnerships. For more information and updates, please visit Arts and Culture’s PAiD webpage or social media at @lacountyarts.

To support and inform the PAiD program, Arts and Culture has initiated a community outreach and partnerships plan to leverage the experience, expertise, reach, and networks of local arts leaders across LA County. Arts and Culture, together with consultant Dyson & Womack, will convene community partners including Betty Avila, formerly Executive Director of Self Help Graphics; Karen Mack, Executive Director of LA Commons; Eric Kim, Co-founder of Human Resources Los Angeles; Jocelyn Ayala, former Outreach Director of The da Center for the Arts; and Emily Hopkins, Executive Director of Side Street Projects, to provide critical feedback and support in shaping areas of the PAiD program.

“We are excited to leverage this generous support from the Mellon Foundation to remove barriers and ensure LA County is a place where diverse artists can truly thrive,” said Arts and Culture Director, Kristin Sakoda. “The LA County Department of Arts has long provided professional development for nonprofit arts organizations. With the Public Artists in Development program, we’re expanding our support for individual artists. Through our Civic Art Division, we commission individual artists to create original site-specific artworks in County facilities and civic spaces. But many artists, especially those historically excluded in the world of art, face barriers to entry in the field of public art at large. By supporting professional development, public art opportunities, and economic empowerment for underrepresented artists, we’re expanding diverse voices in the public realm, supporting creative careers, and promoting a more inclusive society that reflects the humanity in us all.”

“We need to ensure artists of diverse backgrounds are able to make artwork, engage in creative careers, and represent all of our communities through art in public spaces,” said Janice Hahn, Board of Supervisors Chair and Supervisor to the Fourth Supervisorial District. “The Public Artists in Development program will go a long way toward leveling the playing field for LA County artists and building equitable career pathways into LA County’s creative economy. I applaud our Department of Arts and Culture and the philanthropic support of the Mellon Foundation.”

“The County of Los Angeles believes that artistic and cultural resources enhance the quality of life for people and communities. We know that artwork and art programs encourage civic engagement, improve health and education outcomes, and foster economic vitality. With the Public Artists in Development program, we turn our attention now to the artists themselves, making sure they are supported in their careers by designing innovative, professional development opportunities that address equity gaps in the field of public art,” said Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath.


About the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture
The mission of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture is to advance arts, culture, and creativity throughout LA County. We fulfill our mission by providing services and support in areas including grants and technical assistance for nonprofit organizations; professional development opportunities; commissioning civic artworks and managing LA County’s Civic Art Collection; implementing countywide arts education initiatives; research and evaluation; career pathways in the creative economy; free community programs; and cross sector creative strategies that address civic issues. The Civic Art Division provides leadership in the creation of high-quality civic spaces by commissioning original artworks at public facilities across LA County, integrating artists into planning and design, and encouraging innovative approaches to civic art and access to artistic experiences for residents and communities. This work is grounded by the 2017 Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative and the subsequent the LA County Cultural Policy, which provides direction and guidelines to ensure that every resident of the County has meaningful access to arts and culture. For more information, visit lacountyarts.org

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.

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