Making Art Work For Everyone
The Arts Area provides professional development, civic advocacy, and resource support for the creative industries of the Inland Empire of Southern California, including the areas of San Bernardino, Riverside, and east Los Angeles Counties. The creative industries are those industries that comprise the creative economy, defined as the businesses, organizations, and individuals involved in producing cultural, artistic, and design goods and services. Through collaborations with local schools, arts organizations, community leaders, and businesses The Arts Area is improving academic and economic opportunities for artists and students in the region.
The Arts Area goal is to provide a local education and economic hub offering specialized education and training programs, professional development workshops, business support services, online resources, and community organizing programs and events.
The Arts Area vision of “Making Art Work For Everyone” involves opening access to academic and economic resources that would not otherwise be available to artists and students in underserved communities, thus engaging in three central themes of economic and social justice: access, opportunity, and personal accomplishment. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, The Arts Area provides a model that is accessible and relevant to the specific needs of the diverse communities in the Inland Empire. The arts have a strong social power, but that power can only reach its full potential when combined with social awareness. This is important and at the core of The Arts Area mission.
The Arts Area confronts the structural inequalities, inadequate education preparation, and challenging economic conditions of the region. The region has among the lowest income and education completion rates and the highest economic inequality in California, while many local cities also lack developed public arts and culture policies and community arts councils. The low creative industry employment rate of the region, currently accounting for approximately only 2% of total employment, is not a byproduct of a lack of interest, local creative traditions, or creative ability, but rather a symptom of the current limitations of economic access and opportunity in the region.
The Arts Area is based in the Chaffey Community College district where over 21,000 students are enrolled at three campuses. Currently over 2,000 of these students have a declared program of study in one or more areas of the creative industries. The economic needs of the district are also reflected in the local student population with over 68% receiving financial assistance. The district is also buttressed in the east by California State University at San Bernardino, to the south by the University of California at Riverside, and in the west by the Claremont Colleges and Graduate University, all of which have robust program offerings in the creative industries. By providing support to strengthen and expand the local creative economy to accommodate even one half of the California creative industry statewide employment rate of nearly 12%, would result in a tripling of creative industry employment opportunities in our local region.
In the fall of 2016, The Arts Area founder, Professor John Machado, conducted the survey research project "Assessing Student Success in the Creative Economy." The survey study explored the experiences and perceived level of success and satisfaction attained in the academic and professional careers of over 5,000 current and former local college students from creative industry programs. The study results indicated that local artists are most in need of access to professional networks, workspace, and equipment, while the largest deterrent to their careers has been a lack of adequate professional business skills and sustainable income opportunities in the creative industries. The outcomes from this study are directly reflected in the programs, services, and future goals of The Arts Area presented here in this website.
Each of The Arts Area program and service areas are aligned with under developed opportunities and the specific needs of the local students, artists, arts and cultural institutions, and creative industry businesses. The Arts Area approaches the three pillars of academic, economic, and civic engagement in a holistic manner to build bridges between the disparate components of the community. Each potential program and service area being assessed for strengths and opportunities in order to draw upon existing local assets, reduce regional redundancies, and improve the overall health of the economy.
The Arts Area is positioned at the nexus of this growth potential as it leverages opportunities driven by technological innovation that is altering the means of production and access to resources and markets. The Arts Area Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers have life-long personal and professional networks in the region, connections with the local academic institutions, and expertise in arts education, technology, and business.
The Arts Area believes the foundation for lasting economic development begins with a dedication to education and skills development, strengthening pathways to attending college, supporting careers in the creative industries, and building the needed infrastructure for a growing creative economy. The results of which will promote an economically viable and creative arts community that is an invaluable resource to students, artists, and the community at large. This is a long-term commitment to vitalize artistic and cultural awareness, stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship, and reassert a sense of hope, pride, and accomplishment in the future of the community.