By Beto González
April 28, 2017

Participants and facilitators at the Promise Zone Arts launch at CARECEN. Photo: Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

On March 28th ACTA and our partners LA Commons, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural AffairsCity of Los Angeles Promise Zone Office and Youth Policy Institute, kicked off the Promise Zone Arts project with an evening of food, performance, and community engagement. The event was catered by local Cultural Treasure, community organizer and tamal maker, Sandi “Mama” Romero. Attendees enjoyed a performance by Korean pansori singer Junie Lee and participated in a cultural asset mapping exercise. The event closed with a touching poem by Rossana Perez, co-founder of El Rescate and Clínica Romero, resource centers providing free or low-cost access to services like legal representation and primary care. In attendance were community members and cultural organizations working in the Promise Zone, as well as Councilman Gil Cedillo and representatives from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office.

 Korean pansori singer Junie Lee with drummer Peter Chang perform. Photo: City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Korean pansori singer Junie Lee performs with drummer Peter Chang at CARACEN. Photo: City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Promise Zone Arts project is a two-year cultural asset mapping program that will celebrate the cultural treasures of the Los Angeles Promise Zone. The federally-designated LA Promise Zone is a collective impact, anti-poverty initiative that provides resources and leadership to public, non-profit, and community-based organizations working in Central Los Angeles. Over the next few months ACTA will facilitate participatory community engagement activities and ethnographic research training with residents to identify cultural assets that contribute to the area’s dynamic cultural fabric. The first phase of the project will take place in the southern part of the LA Promise Zone neighborhoods of Westlake, Koreatown, and Pico-Union, then continue to Hollywood and East Hollywood in 2018. We will be sharing stories from the LA Promise Zone as we celebrate the individuals, places,  events, and organizations that the community identifies as culturally, historically, and aesthetically meaningful: Cultural Treasures.

The PZA initiative has five components:

  • Participatory Cultural Asset Mapping process facilitating resident engagement in the identification of the neighborhood’s cultural treasures   
  • Recording and Documentation of Cultural Treasures to archive the stories   
  • Public Digital Cultural Treasures Storybank showcasing under-represented cultural assets and traditional and folk artists to provide exposure and opportunity.   
  • Free Cultural Treasures Celebrations for the whole family with local artists and interactive performances as well as traditional foods from the diverse communities.
  • An Academic Research Database with statistical information on the diverse artists of our City allowing us to preserve the cultures.   

There are several ways you can participate in the Promise Zone Arts Project! If you are based in these neighborhoods and have a cultural treasure to share, would like to host a community event at your venue, or want to join our fieldwork documentation team, please contact Beto González at the Alliance for California Traditional Arts

Map of the Los Angeles Promise Zone courtesy the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti.