Category Archives: Getting Moving

Empowerment Congress Summit Tomorrow!

We’re all signed up for the Empowerment Congress Summit Tomorrow. This comes at a perfect time. Remember the blog post Art Reduces Crime. And More!, now we’ll have a chance to talk with people in person about this very subject.

Here’s the workshop Jess signed up for:

Beyond Incarceration: Envisioning a New Probation Department. Los Angeles County runs the largest probation department in the world, with over 2000 youth housed in 18 probation camps and 2 juvenile halls at any given point in time. With a cost per probationer of over $7500 a month, an average camp stay of four and half months, and a recidivism rate between 50-75%, many have challenged the effectiveness of the existing system. Led by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, many organizations have called for a consent decree to require Federal oversight over probation camp reform. In addition, the progressive alternative models that are being implemented around the nation provide resources and examples of what the Los Angeles County Probation Department should aspire to. This panel will explore these alternative models and discuss how Los Angeles County can best move forward with reform.

The plan is to print out the blog post, as well as other statistical information Jess has gathered. We’ll let you know how it goes!

More info about the summit below.

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Everyone loves the library!

Well, at least I always have. The library was always a special magical place for me growing up. I loved (and still love!) books.

Raising the funds to build The Center is tough. And has taken a lot longer than I ever thought. Maybe it’s the times, maybe I had much shorter than realistic time-line, either way it’s become clear to the group that we needed to make some shorter term goals.

It was in a board meeting that Aaron made the statement “I just want to start.” And that’s become our new mantra.  In this city, where there are so many people with disposable income you never really know what will happen. People could get interested and we could have the money in a couple months, or it could be slow going and take years. We have vision and direction to build a center for the arts in South Los Angeles. A true center for the arts with a 60 seat theater for events and performances, a silkscreening studio, a dance studio, etc.. but the fact is it could take years to get our dream space.

Which begs the question, what do we do? Well, in the words of Aaron, we start.

So we’re looking into places like the public libraries, schools, etc… Places that have space we could use to teach art classes out of. It’s exciting and disappointing at the same time. It’s disappointing, because it severely limits all the awesome classes we want to offer. It’s exciting because we are living our mission statement.

“…to inspire and educate young people in the community through unique classes in the arts…”

Art should be accessible to everyone, and we will be doing just that.

I was dropping off a book at the Vermont Square Library (See the photo above of the beautiful space surrounded by an equally beautiful park.) And thought, hey while I’m here it would be a good chance to talk to them. Aaron had emailed them previously, but as we’ve found, emails so often get lost in the shuffle or the dreaded spam filter.

The librarians were super nice. AND they have an AWESOME community space in their building. It even has a sink in the room which allows us to do painting and other sink-necessary classes.

Because it’s a city owned space there are a lot of rules, which they’re looking into. The next steps on our side, is deciding what we can do that is appropriate in the space. (It’s like you’re coming into someone else’s house and you want to be respectful and considerate.) Maybe we do one or two Saturday classes to learn how to work well together and then build from there. Maybe we try and do art classes that have a tie-in with cool books. There’s a lot to figure out. We’ll be deciding our next board meeting.

Very positive news. At the very least, two art classes would up the art in the area, basically by 200%. That’s the part we need to remember, every little bit helps. Everything has a positive impact.

P.S. You can always donate so we have the funds to pay for art supplies and a building of our very own.


LA Phil, As he’s known to his peeps.

Last week I met with Leni from the LA Philharmonic. She is so nice. We were email introduced by Terence from LA Stage Alliance. She had seen our viral video, and asked him about the project.

The LA Phil is doing this really neat program right now called YOLA. Their vision is to build youth orchestras in ‘underserved communities’.  Right up our alley. When we get a building *ah the magic phrase* then this program has additional space to offer classes. How cool is that? You can read more about The LA Phil program here: link

So, in meeting with Leni she pointed out something we’ve come to realize, a lot of starting non-profits have a business partner. There’s usually the creative team and then someone with more of a real estate background who has a lot more of the connections to funding.

It’s not impossible to do this without one, but it really does help. Inner City Arts had a similar set-up when they started. The founders were Bob Bates (Co-Founder and still Artistic Director) and Irwin J. Jaeger (Co Founder). Bob was the professional artist and Irwin was the business guy with real estate experience. There’s even a quote on their website

“You pay the bills and I’ll teach the classes.”
Bob Bates to Irv Jaeger
Inner-City Arts Co Founders, 1989

So we’re keeping our eyes out. If anyone out there has this kind of experience and would like to help, please let us know.

I’m going to be meeting with Bob Bates of Inner-City Arts tomorrow and am super excited. The set-up of Inner-City Arts is very similar to what we’re going for. It’s a rare opportunity to be able to talk to an individual who has founder and continuing experience of a successful arts center.

Meeting with LA Stage Alliance

LA Stage Alliance The Center : South LA Meeting

Yesterday I met with Terence McFarland, the Executive Director of LA Stage Alliance to talk leases, buildings, and arts structure in general.  They’re in an amazing building in downtown LA. It use to be an old firehouse! In the room we met in Terence pointed out the circular depression you could still see in the carpet from where the fireman pole use to be. Fun!

Terence was such a nice guy as well as very helpful. He gave us a couple pointers and a list of a few other arts centers in Los Angeles that we should talk to. We’ll definitely follow up on that list. This is how you build big things. By talking to other folks that are doing it, learning and sharing knowledge.

Woo Hoo!

You may be wondering what this is a picture of… Well it’s me, (Jess) walking to my car in the wee hours after spending a bunch of hours at Aaron’s house where we busted ass on this fundraising campaign. We are so darn close. The shopping cart, (so all you nice folks can buy sweet “I Art LA” tees) is now working and oh so pretty. Worked on html for the website to get the campaign in gear, a lot of photoshopping, design, uploading and so on. I’ve got a very short to-do list for tomorrow, well I guess it’s “this” morning and we’ll be ready to launch our very first fundraising campaign. Let’s do this people! Lets get a building and start doing cool stuff!

After months of work we are so so so close….

Nice people introduce you to more nice people.

A couple weeks ago we met with Emiko Ono in the LA County Arts Commission office. She’s so nice and helpful! It’s amazing to me how many incredibly nice people we’ve already met on this road. We got hooked up with her from the (also super rad) Randi Tahara she’s a Senior Deputy out of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’s office. Randi gave Emiko one of our sweet proposals and there you go. Really nice of her to go above and beyond like that.

The meeting with Emiko was very helpful and insightful. She gave us information on how to be a strong organization, and some tips and resource leads to follow up on. Like the Center for Nonprofit Management. Check them out here: they over training, classes, etc… for nonprofit administration.

We also learned that the city of LA use to do some $1 per year lease programs. Unfortunately the city seems to be phasing that out, (Cause LA is broke, budgeting and all that) but hey! It never hurts to ask right? Or at the very least look into it. Who knows, maybe on of these spaces that currently have a cheep lease would let us throw a fundraiser at there space.

All in all, very uplifting, and a bunch of good stuff to follow up on. 🙂


We have been so busy over here I barely know where to begin… Oh wait!

The wonderful guys over at Three Legged Legs have finished our viral video, and let me tell you, it looks AWESOME!!!! They’re so stoked about it they’re even looking into ways to get it some airtime. If any of you people out there have some tips please pass them along. A few of us over here have been trying to figure out how to get some free time on Hulu and haven’t been able to figure it out.

All that’s left is for Aaron to update the “I Art LA” part of our website and for Sean to adjust the audio levels on the video and our campaign will be launched out into the world. Woot! Lets get some funds in here people so we can start with the art classes already! Donate and tell alllllll your friends to donate.

city hall los angeles 1

city hall los angeles 2
Our founder Jessica, met a couple weeks ago, with the folks in Councilmember Bernard C Parks, District 8, office. If you haven’t been to City Hall, seriously go check it out. The inside of the building is beautiful!

mel kadel "I Art LA"

Tony Jagoda "I Art LA"


Adam Flores "I Art LA"

We’ll also have a booth at this Thursday’s Downtown LA Artwalk. We’ll be selling the “I Art LA” tee that various amazing LA Artist have designed as part of our fundraiser. Stop by and say hello! We’ve been printing tees like crazy getting ready for this.

We’ve been contacted by some folks that own property in South LA. Very excited to talk with them and find out more about their spot.

There’s even more going on, but it’s getting late. Enjoy the various pics!

Hope to see you all at Art Walk!