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Advancing Arts in Eastern LA County: LA Plaza Eastside Arts Initiative Awards $150,000

Building on its effort to help advance the arts in Eastern  Los Angeles County, the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes (LA Plaza)-Eastside Arts Initiative (EAI) today announced a total of $150,000 in grants awarded to local artists and arts organizations in support of community arts programming.   EAI grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 were awarded to five artists and seven arts organizations.   

“During this time of thanksgiving, we are reminded of the creative professionals and artists whose hard work and novel roles enrich our neighborhoods.  We are pleased to support their efforts while re-enforcing our investment in the Eastern LA County arts community through this EAI funding,” said EAI Chair Lupe Arriola. 




Enrique Castillo, Producer/Co-Producer, “Ugly Little Monkeys”:  Documentary captures the story about the origins of the youth mariachi movement that gave rise to the global popularity of mariachi music and mariachi student education.  The documentary reflects the cultural pride of the Mexican and Mexican/American community and how a group of talented and dedicated young men achieved success in spite of the challenges they faced. Screenings of the documentary will take place in locations throughout Eastern LA County. (The title translation is derived from the original name of the youth mariachi, “Los Changuitos Feos” de Tucson). 


Jesus Martinez, Music Producer, “The Breakfast Table”:  Music series creates live music for community broadcasting online year-round from the Decibel Studio in East LA where from the “breakfast table”, producer and artists develop segments for the program’s live recordings and performances.  Artists perform their music in a live format while recording to share their trajectory with online audiences. 


Yeu Q Nguyen, Artist, “Weaving Hope SELA”:  Traveling public art program will collect and record “stories of hope” by Southeast LA residents who will also create a vibrant, interactive tapestry of art works made from recyclable textiles.  A culminating art exhibit in partnership with StayArts Gallery will showcase the residents’ creative work reflecting their stories of hope.     


William Thomas Roper, Music Composer, “Juvenile Terrestrial References-Semi-Autonomous Regions”:  Composition of a three-movement string quartet for community performances to include educational talks-Q&A, studio recording, and video documentation to be archived at two public art schools. Based on the mid 1950’s-1970 in Lincoln Park, Evergreen Cemetery and Union Station neighborhoods, this program provides an artistic representation of locations that were illustrative of racial segregation and red lining in Los Angeles. 


Fanny Veliz, Film Director, Actor, “Latina Independent Film Extravaganza – L.I.F.E.”:  Film festival to highlight and celebrate the work of Latina film directors and their contributions to cinema.  The festival will showcase their work and create a platform for pathways to film careers with the support of the “industry” community.            



Future Roots, Inc., “Deep Routes”:  Radio series collaboration with Metro Art and dublab radio explores Los Angeles’ complex and multicultural musical histories from the perspective of existing and future transit lines. The six one-hour episodes, includes companion microsite featuring essays, photographs, archival ephemera contributed by guest hosts, and will feature local artists. Using a conversational oral history format collaged with custom sound-tracking, the series will document the ways geographies have incubated subcultures and genres and provide a musically-focused asset map of Los Angeles, highlighting neighborhoods to illuminate intersections of sound and place while underscoring the intimate ties between geography and culture. 

LA River Project LA, “Lewis MacAdams Prize 2022”:  Through art-based projects, will address underused public spaces along the River while highlighting the river’s potential for connecting local communities and use by the public at large.  Public art projects will be solicited and promoted for the public spaces along the LA River’s eastern communities.  

Meztli Projects, Inc., “Cultural Worker Apprentice Program & Community Workshops”: Through facilitation by cohorts who will teach creative development, Native and Indigenous artists and creatives will learn critical teaching techniques while providing free arts programming to community members.  Program empowers and serves a community that is overlooked in the arts and provides art intensives and training – such as learning new creative skills or expanding their knowledge about art forms already practiced such as printmaking, beading, basket-weaving, and others. 

Neighborhood Music School Association, “Student Scholarship Program”: Offers high quality private one to one music instruction on a wide variety of instruments such as violin, viola, cello, guitar, saxophone, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, percussion, piano, ukulele, and voice.  Scholarships provide students whose families cannot afford any level of music instruction costs.  The 22 Teaching-Musicians are mentors with advanced degrees and experience, committed to the unique journey each student is taking in their musical study. 

Operation Street Kidz, “Operation Street Kidz Produces Your Film!”:  In partnership with Two Seas Media, students will learn how to produce high quality films through cost-effective methods learned during hands-on instruction and workshops.   A script producing competition will help select the participants who will learn the various positions of filmmaking, beginning with pre-production and being part of a film crew production.  All departments will be supervised by mentors who are experienced alumni from Santa Monica College, USC, American Film Institute and UCLA. Films will be submitted to film festivals and students will received help to continue in film or to attend film school. 

Pacific Opera Project, “Iolanta by PYOTR TCHAIKOVSKY @ The Aratani Theater:  Through an approach that is a significant change to the work, four performances of Tchaikovsky’s lolanta will be held at the Aratani Theater in DTLA’s Little Tokyo neighborhood to engage the blind and low-sight community from Eastern LA County and throughout. In the classic version of this work, the lead character is blind and gets her sight back.  In this NEW version, the character chooses to remain blind.  Partnerships with blind organizations will be established, blind artists will be hired and the program will help cultivate the blind community into opera lovers. 

Sinergia Theatre Group-Grupo de Teatro SINERGIA, “Voces del Teatro-An Oral History of Latinx Theatre in Modern Los Angeles 1960s to Present”:  A first attempt to compile a complete oral history archive of Latinx Theatre, this project will be produced in conjunction with the Latinx Theatre Alliance /Los Angeles, an ad-hoc group of individual theatre artists and practitioners focused on the promotion and preservation of Latinx culture on the local and national stage. 

LA Plaza-EAI was established in 2015 to further the arts in Eastern Los Angeles County while helping local artists and arts organizations serving in these communities.  With this latest funding cycle, the EAI has awarded more than $1.2M in grants for a wide range of artistic endeavors, including emergency relief funding. For the entire list of grant awards, see: 

Opened in 2011, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is a Los Angeles County museum and Smithsonian Institute affiliate that celebrates the past and inspires the future by sharing the untold stories about the history, art and culture of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and all Latinos in the founding and continuing evolution of Southern California through compelling and culturally enriching exhibitions, educational initiatives, and public programs.  For more information, please visit