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LA County Board of Supervisors Approves Motion to Enhance Diversity at all Levels of Arts Institutions
By Rosa Santana, Special to the Sentinel
Published November 19, 2015
Actor Esai Morales, of “La Bamba” movie, speaks in favor of diversity in the arts before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Actor Esai Morales, of “La Bamba” movie, speaks in favor of diversity in the arts before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, co-authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, that requires the County Arts Commission to establish an advisory group of diverse arts leaders who will work with arts institutions to develop recommendations for ways to enhance the participation and leadership of individuals from underrepresented communities in the arts. The Commission is to report back to the Board with proposals that would lead to more diverse arts boards, staff, audience members, and programming at appropriate arts institutions.

A recent national study of diversity in American Art Museums released by the Mellon Foundation found that minorities are significantly underrepresented in top positions. Among museum leaders, only 4 percent are African American and 3 percent are Hispanic. Further, the study found that minorities have no significant pipeline for leadership positions.

(left to right) David Valdez, Comedian and Actor; Esai Morales, Award-winning actor; Supervisor Hilda L. Solis; Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

(left to right) David Valdez, Comedian and Actor; Esai Morales, Award-winning actor; Supervisor Hilda L. Solis; Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

“As a leader in the arts and perhaps the most diverse County in the nation, Los Angeles should be at the forefront of discussions and actions taken to improve cultural equity,” Supervisor Solis said. “Greater inclusion at all levels will strengthen our cultural institutions and help ensure maximum access to the arts for all, as well as future audiences and supporters for these important institutions.”

“Los Angeles is the creative capital of the world and a melting pot of cultures,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who co-authored the motion. “The arts organizations and programs in Los Angeles County should reflect this rich diversity in order to be sustainable, and to reach a greater audience.”

Laura Zucker, the Executive Director of the LA County Arts Commission, stated: “The County is taking the lead in a significant conversation here. That the Board of Supervisors wants recommendations that can move this conversation to action is a tremendous opportunity.”

(left to right) David Valdez, Comedian and Actor; Esai Morales, Award-winning actor; Supervisor Hilda L. Solis; Ben Guillory, Executive Director and Actor, Robey Theatre Company.

(left to right) David Valdez, Comedian and Actor; Esai Morales, Award-winning actor; Supervisor Hilda L. Solis; Ben Guillory, Executive Director and Actor, Robey Theatre Company.

The Supervisors’ motion pointed out that one out of every seven jobs in the County is being generated from an arts-related field, according to the Otis Report on the Creative Economy. “Children from every part of our community not only need access to a robust arts education, but also need a robust pipeline for entering these jobs. We hope that this report will provide recommendations to achieve this end,” said Supervisor Solis.

Read her motion here.

The motion asks the Arts Commission to establish a broad-based advisory task force, receive input from around the County, and identify philanthropic and nonprofit partners in moving forward with its Final Report, which is due in about nine months.

Among those who spoke in favor of the motion were:

*Rachel Moore, President and CEO of the Music Center

*Michael Govan, President and CEO of Los Angeles County Museum of Art

*Helen Hernandez, Executive Director, IMAGEN Foundation and Arts Commissioner

*Esai Morales, Award-winning actor

*Ben Guillory, Executive Director and Actor, Robey Theatre Company

*David Valdez, Comedian and Actor

*Laura Zucker, Executive Director, Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

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