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Each year, 18th Street Arts Center seeks to stimulate public dialogue around the role of artists in society. Programs at 18th Street Arts Center comprise our residency-based exhibition and public program series Artist Lab, emerging artist exhibitions in our Atrium Gallery, artist-driven events, a semi-annual Pico Block Party family festival, community programs related to our Culture Mapping 90404 online oral history project and archive, partnership exhibitions with other institutions, and an annual publication.

18th Street Arts Center’s core gallery program, Artist Lab, functions as an ‘artist laboratory’ that fosters exploration and experimentation, providing an in-depth opportunity for artists to critically develop their practice. Structured as both a residency and an exhibition, individual artists or artist teams may develop new work or generate provocative programming that investigates new avenues within contemporary art making practices. Artists are encouraged to use the space, which is open to the public, in a dynamic capacity; collaborating with other artists, using the gallery as a studio, developing on-going programs and events, creating installations, or modifying their exhibition layout over the course of their 3-month residency.

Sponsored by the Herb Alpert Foundation to honor and support jazz artists, 18th Street Arts Center annually hosts its Make Jazz Fellowship, awarded to a jazz composer for a three-month, fully funded residency. This opportunity is for an individual jazz artist to advance or complete a body of original compositions. For three months the Make Jazz Fellow lives and works among artists in sunny Santa Monica, California. The award supports the artist by providing a monthly stipend, a furnished live-in studio, and arranged opportunities to inspire Jazz students in partnership with Los Angeles-area colleges and universities. As part of the fellowship, 18th Street presents a yearly jazz concert in Spring.

Pico Block Party is our semi-annual family festival (taking place in Spring and Fall), that welcomes our extended community for art-making, open studios, and cross-cultural exchange. It has become a platform for our local cultural leaders and artists to connect with our visiting international artists as well as our Los Angeles and Santa Monica communities.

Culture Mapping 90404 is an ongoing living archive of the cultural history of our Santa Monica Pico Neighborhood. Led by neighborhood volunteers, oral histories and artistic communities are archived in our interactive online map. Frequent educational and dialogue-driven programs around the map focus on issues this project has raised, such as racial injustice, displacement, and gentrification. The site is fully bilingual in English and Spanish.

18th Street plays an important role as a center for extended research and support for international artists, and as such, we have partnered with major institutions like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on collaborative programs. A recent example is our PST:LA/LA collaborative exhibition project, which was the culmination of two years of international artist research residencies. More information on the resulting exhibition, called A Universal History of Infamy, can be found here.

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