Skid Row Artists Creatively Connect
While Physically Distanced
by Henriëtte Brouwers
In response to COVID-19, The Skid Row Arts Alliance, a consortium of Skid Row Arts Organizations (Urban Voices Project, Los Angeles Poverty Department, Street Symphony, Piece By Piece, Studio 526), are acting to simultaneously bring their programming online and into the community with various immediate relief efforts. The arts are a lifeline for many in the Skid Row community. Normally, one of the strengths of the Skid Row community is that people interact face to face. As social distancing rules leave us all in isolation, maintaining connection is essential.
Recognizing this health and social crisis’s acute impact on the residents of Skid Row, The Skid Row Arts Alliance is initiating a multi-pronged response.
We have started a campaign to increase internet and tech access for Skid Row artists and residents. The Skid Row Arts Alliance is exploring immediate relief efforts combined with long-term strategies to address this digital shortage. Clancey Cornell with the LA Poverty Department launched a gofundme page to buy data SIM cards for Skid Row artists and residents as well as research other tech access efforts. Internet access is now a public health issue, with regular internet access in places like the library shut down and a lack of WiFi hotspots in Skid Row.
We have created a web page: “Skid Row Arts TV Guide” http://www.artstvguide.com/ that provides a weekly calendar of on-line Skid Row arts activities with culturally literate instructions on how to connect, created by Leeav Sofer, Artistic Director for Urban Voices Project along with Daniel Villa, of Arts Alliance member Piece by Piece, and Cornell. The intention is to promote neighborhood based #Connectivity as best as possible in the face of #COVID-19 and the hardships of social distancing. All Programs are accessible by either calling in, through Facebook Live, Zoom or YouTube. These resources are being distributed to all Skid Row residences from the tents to SRO tenants.
We are assembling near 200 Arts Care Packages that are due to be distributed the week of 4/20 to artists in the community who are regular attendees of these programs. Packages include a Skid Row Arts TV Guide Magazine, with offerings from each organization, art supplies, headphones, masks and more. Support included from USC Arts in Action program and Roski School of Art & Design.
In line with the Skid Row Arts Alliance’s relief efforts, Sofer created a website that provides the most accurate and up-to-date information in the county on the availability of shelter beds and food access in response to a gap of intercommunication between city and county organizations. http://www.homelesscovidresource.com.
Skid Row has a dynamic arts community. In Skid Row people make art where they are, on the street, in parks, in tents, missions and hotel rooms. Last year the Skid Row Arts Alliance created the Skid Row Arts Map. The map recognized arts as a community connector and identified the times and locations of all the arts activities that are free and open to anyone living in Skid Row.
The Skid Row Arts Alliance is a consortium of: Urban Voices Project, Los Angeles Poverty Department, Street Symphony, Piece by Piece, Studio 526. This project is the second collaboration between the Skid Row Arts Alliance and USC Arts in Action program who partnered with the SRAA to create the Skid Row Arts Map last year. Additional organizations participating in these efforts are: Creative I Community Arts Space and The Los Angeles Community Action Network . Read the LA WEEKLY article about the Skid Row Arts Map: https://www.laweekly.com/a-map-project-for-skid-row-arts-highlights-cultural-resources/
Los Angeles Poverty Department