County supervisors to consider a push for arts diversity (updated)

Venezuelan maestro Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra during a concert in San Francisco on Nov. 30, 2012 during a U.S. tour. Los Angeles County Supervisors are now weighing a motion that would aim to diversity the county's arts institutions.
Venezuelan maestro Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra during a concert in San Francisco on Nov. 30, 2012 during a U.S. tour. Los Angeles County Supervisors are now weighing a motion that would aim to diversity the county's arts institutions.
Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure on Tuesday that directs the County Arts Commission to set up a task force with the goal of diversifying the region's arts institutions.

Supervisor Hilda Solis, one of the proponents, said the advisory group would report back to the board on best practices for making performing arts centers, museums and other institutions – and their programming – more inclusive of the county's ethnic mix.

“As a county we should be representing all of the residents and folks that live in the county," Solis said, "and it would be equally reflected in our visual and performing arts institutions, at every level, whether it is on their board, their staff, their programming and their audiences.”

A recent national study pointed to a lack of diversity in museums: Only 4 percent of the nation’s museum directors are African American; only 3 percent are Latino.

The report, released this summer by The Mellon Foundation, suggests that "diverse educational pipelines into curatorial, conservation, and other art museum careers are going to be critical if art museums wish to have truly diverse staff and inclusive cultures."

Supervisors Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas cited the report in their motion.

Solis said she’d like to see more diverse hiring in local arts institutions, more programming that appeals to non-white residents, and more events held in ethnic communities outside the urban core.

She recently joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in sponsoring a free performance in Pomona by Venezuela's Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, an event she called a success.

"We had well over 1,000 people come from as far as East L.A., from as far as South Gate...who had never been exposed to anything like that," Solis said.

The advisory group is to report back to back to the board with recommendations and proposed funding sources for making an arts diversity plan work. A final report will be due in about nine months. 

This story has been updated.