L.A. County Arts Commission provides business advice to artists

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The Los Angeles County Arts Commission is hosting a West Hollywood workshop on Saturday. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez says it's intended to help artists along as the economy falters.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Commission executive director Laura Zucker says most of L.A. County's 150,000 artists have college degrees, so they're hardly starving.

Laura Zucker: It's a larger sector than the defense industry. And making sure that we keep that engine running is an important part of making certain that our economy survives this terrible recession.

Guzman-Lopez: Creativity's keeping many artists afloat. To supplement their incomes, many moonlight teaching art at public schools. Zucker says the L.A. Unified School District's suspension of payments to scores of artists a couple of months ago served as a lesson.

Zucker: What's important here for artists is to, like it is for all of us, is to diversify, diversify, diversify your sources of income. Spread your services across multiple school districts and a lot of different employers, and you're less likely to get really badly socked by one of those putting employment opportunities on hold.

Guzman-Lopez: The commission's providing free expert advice to individual artists and arts groups at its quarterly Saturday workshop. Other topics include health insurance for artists and how to land jobs creating public art. Previous sessions have led to partnerships where artists place art in empty storefronts.

Zucker: There is money in that because both municipalities and developers don't want buildings to look vacant.

Guzman-Lopez: Zucker maintains that keeping artists, musicians, and performers productive is key to maintaining a good quality of life – even as people worry about their financial well-being.