Through the New California Arts Fund (NCAF), the Ford has refined and expanded its arts engagement practices, offering Los Angeles area residents, particularly those in underserved communities, more opportunities to engage through the arts.
The Ford Theatres’ guiding principles and mission affirm that active participation by all communities in Los Angeles County’s cultural life is integral to building a society where everyone has a voice. Recognizing that the creative and cultural expression of all people is of equal value but that not all people have equal access to resources and opportunities, the Ford remains committed to programming that advances the region’s diverse performing artists.
In the first phase of NCAF funding, the Ford broadened its chief arts engagement program, JAM Sessions, to include peer-to-peer learning opportunities with community stakeholders and artists and enhanced evaluation methodology. This work continues, ensuring that the engagement activities the Ford facilitates are authentic and relevant for each community. Artists and participants that engage in these programs have the opportunity to experiment, expand their art practices, and connect to one another.
Intentionally applying the principles of engagement to interpersonal relations - both internally with staff and leadership and externally with Ford artists – creates a work culture where equity, diversity, and inclusion become central to the organization. As the Ford continues on this path, these principles shape the growth of the Ford’s staff and advisory bodies, while also informing the development of new arts programs.
January 1, 2014 - October 31, 2018
Virginia Diediker, Cultural Arts Supervisor, City of San Fernando
As Ford staff emerge from a period of transition that resulted in a fully renovated facility and a new leadership structure, room is made to evaluate the state of the organization and its place in the region’s arts ecology. Guided reflection leads to future planning; new strategic and business plans will focus on creating a financially healthy organization that can sustain the Ford’s arts engagement work well beyond the NCAF funding period. The plans will include avenues for strengthening board capacity and creating new revenue streams, all while embedding arts engagement and equity into the Ford’s business model.
The Ford’s new leadership has initiated an expansion in the breadth of its programming, adding a presenting series of nationally and internationally known artists to the Ford’s robust season of multicultural performing arts events presented in partnership with LA-based artists and its participatory and family-oriented arts programs. As the Ford explores new performance spaces within its existing site, it continues its commitment to offer programming that represents the rich diversity of the region, where all feel welcome to experience high quality performing arts events in a beautiful natural setting.
Acknowledging that programming in a vacuum creates irrelevancy, the Ford will continue to deepen its relationships with various community stakeholders. Launched in 2016, the Ford Connectors Council is a diverse group of local culture makers, arts producers, and community members that convene on a regular basis to dialogue around the Ford’s engagement practices, program development, and artist recruitment strategies. Over the next two years, the Ford will provide professional development opportunities and arts engagement prototype funding to further enhance the strength and reach of this group.
Looking ahead, Ford staff embrace a culture of change that supports the ability to remain adaptive and make mindful improvements, leading to a healthy organization that can better serve constituents and inform the field.