Southern California Program

La Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Arts and Culture
Los Angeles, CA
$150,000
December 2019

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (LA Plaza) is an admission-free, nonprofit institution that is exclusively dedicated to celebrating and preserving the history and many contributions of Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and all Latinos in Southern California.  It features two permanent historical exhibits and a rotating schedule of temporary exhibits of Mexican-American and Latino popular culture, history, and art.  Of LA Plaza’s 90,000+ visitors annually, about half visit expressly to view La Plaza’s exhibits, including 8,500 K-12 students, many of whom return with their families.  A W. M. Keck Foundation grant will support enhancements to LA Plaza’s core permanent exhibition, LA Starts Here! (LASH).  LASH tells the story of Los Angeles’ founding and evolution through the eyes and voices of early Mexican and Latino settlers and residents.  Presented in English and Spanish, LASH uses storyboards, photographs, videos, and artifacts to provide a snapshot of history that is rarely included in textbooks and often does not appear in the school curriculum.  Because LASH provides such unique stories and perspective, visitors often seek more information.  Over the next two years, LA Plaza will develop a set of bilingual print and digital resources that provide additional context, references for further readings, and lesson plans for teachers.  A self-guided audio tour will enhance the exhibits with additional content narrated by local Latino leaders, poets, and musicians.  Newly recruited and trained docents will lead guided tours and answer visitors’ questions.  These components will enrich visitors’ experiences, enhance the exhibition’s impact, and disseminate the stories LASH tells far beyond LA Plaza’s physical building.

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