County supervisors make April ‘Arts Month’ and call for expansion of grant program

David "Eli" Israelian, cofounder of the mental health nonprofit Painted Brain.
David “Eli” Israelian is cofounder of the mental health nonprofit Painted Brain, a 2020-21 Community Impact Arts Grant recipient. On Tuesday, county supervisors supported expansion of the grants.
(David Israelian)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to designate April as “Arts Month” and to commit to investing in arts programming provided by social service and social justice nonprofits.

The move was meant to recognize the role that art and culture play in healing after more than a year of pandemic struggles. The motion, by supervisors Holly J. Mitchell and Hilda L. Solis, cited studies illuminating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention findings from June that 13% of adults in the U.S. increased their substance use during the pandemic and 11% considered suicide during that time.

It also cited a University of Pennsylvania study, conducted between 2014-2016, on the positive effects of cultural resources in lower-income neighborhoods, among them an 18% drop in serious crime and a 5% decrease in obesity.


“The trauma, isolation, and hardship experienced by Angelenos throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the need for a renewed commitment to enhancing community well-being,” the motion said.

“The arts can have a significantly impactful role in enhancing community well-being.”

The motion proposed an examination of the county’s available funding to continue and expand the Department of Arts and Culture’s Community Impact Arts Grants. The funds go to social service and social justice nonprofits using culture to serve the homeless, at-risk youth, immigrants, veterans and others in often racially diverse communities.

The grant program is an effort to ensure that arts funding is “equitably provided to organizations serving underserved communities and marginalized populations throughout the county,” the motion said, “especially those organizations lacking access to traditional arts grants.”