At 18th Street Arts Center, we have great concern about the state of our nation in this post-election world and want to confirm our mission and commitment to artists and social justice. We feel it is important to do this publicly in this time when many are feeling great uncertainty and fear. Foremost in our minds is the normalization of racist, xenophobic, and sexist rhetoric in the media and in our government, which is playing out in communities across the nation in an unprecedented spike of hate crimes (as documented by the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center) against our vulnerable citizenry.
As an organization, we were founded by a group of feminist artists who challenged social injustices and complacency through political, poetic, and powerful artwork. One of 18th Street’s founders, Susanna Bixby Dakin, ran for president herself in 1984 in her piece “An Artist for President: The Nation is the Artwork, We are the Artists” to question and provoke dialogue around what it means to be a citizen and an artist. Since then, we have supported artists in many global and local communities doing incredible, important work in the world to inspire, advocate for social justice causes, and express new ideas.
We strongly and urgently renew our commitment to stand for artists and social justice, and we reject the normalization of hate, division, and complacency. The Rev. Michael Beckwith, founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center, recently spoke about the need to be first responders in times of crisis, and we see artists as the “first responders” of cultural crisis – they are well-trained in asking difficult questions, creating new frames with which to see and engage in the world, activating broad global networks of support, leveraging their privileged platforms to speak out powerfully, and living resourcefully.
Here are our pledges that we fight for and will continue to fight for:
Remain a Place Where Art Happens
We continue to be a safe haven for artists of all backgrounds to be able to express themselves, take risks, make art, and organize collaborative groups and actions. We mean it. Although our studio space is limited, if you are planning a group action or collaborative project and need a place to meet – reach out to us. Let’s work together. We must all be creative, and we must work in concert and not in competition in the times ahead.
Stand Up for Social Justice
18SAC believes art-making is an essential part of a vibrant, just and healthy society. We will fight for policies that protect vulnerable populations in our nation, and will take a stand against those that threaten them.
Expand our Support for ALL Artists in Our Community
We commit to finding ways to expand our support to ALL artists in our community – residents, visiting international artists, and our expansive community of Los Angeles artists.
These are uncertain times, and fear of the future can cause us all to react in very different ways. Above all, we pledge to listen, to be there for artists near and far, and to keep our doors open to questioning, creativity, and risk.
Thank you for being part of our community.
With great respect, gratitude, and care,
The 18th Street Arts Center Team