LA Commons Receives California Arts Council “Local Impact” Grant

Contact: Karen Mack
(213) 705-4457

Date: June 13, 2017
LA Commons Receives California Arts Council “Local Impact” Grant
State funds extend the reach of the arts to local underserved populations

[Los Angeles, CA] – The California Arts Council, a state agency, announced that it plans to award $18,000 to LA Commons as part of its Local Impact program.
The Local Impact program is rooted in the California Arts Council’s vision to create a state where the arts are a central component of daily life and accessible to all. The Local Impact program fosters equity, access, and opportunity by providing project support for arts organizations with operating budgets under $1 million. All projects extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations that have limited access to the arts.

Through masks, dance and music, Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks enables artists to work with community members to explore the rich cultural traditions of West Africa and gives voice to the many heritages of the Diaspora. Each program cycle includes community planning, weekly workshops, Diaspora artists-in-residence and Ancestors Day activities. The young people at the program’s core are rewarded as they lead the rest of the community in connecting with stories past, present and future, learning from their artist guides and developing skills to further their economic prospects.

Coming from Crenshaw High and other schools nearby, the 15 – 25 year old participants work with a common theme that unifies the community. Attending at least 16 weekly sessions, African American and Latino young people get to know their neighbors and gain deep knowledge of art forms and their community through their involvement with tradition bearers, learning dance, drumming or mask-making.

Including mask workshops, a grand procession and performances, the visually stimulating event on the last Sunday in June each year attracts a broad audience from around LA to interact with others from different cultures and experience gorgeous colors, multilayered textures and a scale that provokes awe and wonder. 2016 saw great success as 300 locals came together in workshops leading up to the Festival and 900 people joined in a day dedicated to “My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper”. With the help of funding through CAC, our 2017 “Balance” themed Festival invokes the four elements and four directions to create the alchemy needed for positive reinforcement of our own energy so that we can organize and move forward with positive vibrations in the community.

Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks addresses all of CAC’s local impact goals as they align so well with our ongoing objectives. The workshops and day of activities provide greater access to the arts for the youth, their families and the larger community by reducing barriers to participation through an exceptionally creative endeavor presented in highly accessible public spaces, designed to celebrate cultural traditions and highlight local issues. “Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks provides the community with a great opportunity to come together to make a beautiful and impactful statement,” says Karen Mack, the Executive Director of LA Commons.

“The sense of belonging you get when everyone from multi-cultured groups danced and played music was uniting and strong. When all of us do our share to inspire change and give thanks, we keep hope alive” – Angela Davis, youth participant, Day of the Ancestors: Festival of Masks

The news of LA Commons’ grant was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council, which can be viewed online at

“California Arts Council grants provide vital support for projects in diverse communities across our state,” said Craig Watson, Director of the California Arts Council. “This was an historic year of state arts support. We are proud to invest more than $8.5 million in funding 712 grant projects that will stimulate local growth and prosperity, and meet the needs of our communities through deep engagement with culture and creative expression.”

The California Arts Council will continue to grow the reach of its programs in the coming year, as the result of a significant one-time state arts funding increase for 2016-17 announced last week.

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The mission of LA Commons is to engage communities in artistic and cultural expression that tells their unique stories and serves as a basis for dialogue, interaction and a better understanding of Los Angeles. Our programs are grounded in the philosophy that culture is a valuable community resource, art is a powerful tool for telling stories and creating change, and artists have an important role to play in the community development process.

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California’s diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services. Learn more at