In 1992, the Rodney King riots focused national attention on the City of Los Angeles in a less than desirable light. Newspapers, magazines, and television news outlets exposed the social and racial inequality that currently divided parts of Los Angeles to the rest of the country.
A group of Venice artists and community members came together to try to bridge part of the gap and uplift and unite some of the city’s most underserved residents. They wanted to link Venice’s vibrant artistic community with the many children growing up in an environment of poverty and neglect. Their goal was to establish a community center that placed an emphasis on arts education for young people. In 1993, Venice Arts was born.
Venice Arts’ first project was a photography workshop. The class paired experienced photographers with ten of LA’s marginalized children, to explore the art form and learn how to use the camera to capture the reality of their world and their experience living in it. This initial workshop pioneered Venice Arts’ participatory media approach, which would serve as a model for future programs.
Venice Arts currently offers a variety of arts classes, with a special focus on animation, comics, filmmaking, and photography. To form strong professional relationships, classes are capped at 12 students with a 1:3 artist-to-youth ratio. Programs run after school, on weekends, and during summer breaks. Venice Arts serves over 450 students each year.
While artistic education is paramount, Venice Arts recognizes that personal enrichment, as well as professional and academic success are equally valuable for aspiring artists. Students that join the Creative Pathways program receive college counseling, help with essays and resumes, attend panels with local creative professionals, and portfolio assistance. After they graduate, Venice Arts’ Bridge Program helps alumni during their college journey.
Venice Arts is committed to the future of art and artists in Venice. They are equally committed to making art accessible to all, and the artist’s journey a potential reality for those who may not have believed it to be possible. Their commitment to education and training will serve not only their students, but Venice itself for years to come.
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