The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create a new department for the arts.
The existing Arts Commission, established in 1947, will be retained as an advisory body in a transition set to begin July 1.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended the change.
“With a new arts department, we can further elevate the impact of the arts on our community culture, and economy,” Ridley-Thomas said. “The importance of the creative industries cannot be overstated, particularly in Los Angeles. Creativity is one of our most essential economic assets.”
That creative economy generated $190 billion in output in 2015, employing one in eight private workers in the region, according to a 2017 report by the Otis College of Art and Design.
Arts Commission Executive Director Kristin Sakoda expressed support for the move, calling it “a historic moment.”
The commission’s role, originally focused on local music performances, had expanded over the decades to support hundreds of nonprofit organizations and oversee a wide-ranging arts internship program for college students.
An outside consultant was hired to assess how to best elevate the importance of the arts countywide. She considered various structures and looked at best practices in other cities and counties nationwide.
Based on her report, the board concluded that an internal department would be a better platform for collaboration with other county departments and private companies. That collaboration is increasing important as the county focuses on the arts as it relates to child welfare, juvenile justice and the fight to end homelessness.
The new department is expected to create new pathways to careers in the arts and deliver innovative programming and services.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she was in favor, but added that she hoped the transition could be accomplished without increasing county costs.
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