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About 18th Street Arts Center

Our Vision

18th Street Arts Center is one of the top 20 artist residency programs in the US, and the largest in Southern California. Conceived as a radical think tank in the shape of an artist community, 18th Street supports artists from around the globe to imagine, research, and develop significant, meaningful new artworks and share them with the public. We strive to provide artists the space and time to take risks, to foster the ideal environment for artists and the public to directly engage, and to create experiences and partnerships that foster positive social change.

Our Mission

Our mission is to provoke public dialogue through contemporary art-making. We believe that:

  • Art making is an essential component of a vibrant, just and healthy society
  • Creative action is a vital part of individual wellbeing
  • Humanity benefits when artists are valued

Our History

Founded as a non-profit in 1988, 18th Street Arts Center has a long history as a space for artists. It originally served as studio space for a group of feminist artists in the 1970s – 80s, including Susanna Bixby Dakin (who ran for President in 1984), Judy Chicago, Barbara T. Smith, Linda Frye Burnham, and others. It became a hub for the West Coast arm of ACT-UP, an activist grassroots organization addressing the AIDS crisis, and was home to three of the NEA Four (Tim Miller, John Fleck, and Holly Hughes). It also grew out of early performance art, and was the site of publication for High Performance Magazine, and later, Highways Performance Space (still located on the 18th Street Arts Center campus). Once 18th Street incorporated as a non-profit, it became an artist residency program with a wide range of public programs and exhibitions.

With performance art, activism, social justice, feminism, and the gay rights movements in its DNA since the beginning, 18th Street has continued to foster and support the work of many of Los Angeles’ most engaging and diverse artists, and has built bridges to like-minded artist communities around the globe. 18th Street provides a hub for contemporary art through two program areas that reflect its mission:

1) A three-tiered Residency Program that fosters inter-cultural collaboration and dialogue and

2) A Public Events and Exhibition Program that focuses on engaging the public and revealing the art-making process through exhibitions, events, talks, publications and other opportunities.

Our Residency Program has three parts:

  • Long-term residencies of 1-3 years for local Los Angeles-based artists
  • Organizational residencies, for non-profits who have helped to define the character and scope of the organization
  • Visiting international artist residencies, for national and international visiting artists and curators who live at 18th Street for 1-3 months.

The Public Events and Exhibition Program comprises our Artist Lab series, focusing on mid-career Los Angeles based artists with accompanying solo exhibitions and artist-driven events; a new Moveable Lab series exploring engagement in the public sphere, presentations of emerging artists in our Atrium Gallery, and a diverse set of community-focused projects including our ground-breaking Culture Mapping 90404 interactive website and archive, and semi-annual Pico Block Party Festival.

18th Street Arts Center’s visiting artist residency program has hosted more than 500 artists from dozens of countries around the world since it first began in 1992. Their presence at the Center has enlivened the multicultural dialogue of Los Angeles. Over the past 29 years, more than 8,000 diverse visual and performing artists have participated in programs at 18th Street Arts Center ranging from group and individual exhibitions to special events and presentations.

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