One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival- West Hollywood, CA

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Community vision and values, Education and youth
  • Engagement Approaches Community conversations/dialogues, Community meetings (townhalls, forums, etc), Digital engagement, Engagement through art, Engaging traditionally marginalized groups, Neighborhood events/ activities, Surveys and data, Youth Engagement
Project Description

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One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival

At certain points in its long history, LA Pride has fallen under criticism for being less relevant, too focused on partying and/or commercial interests, and for lacking an educational component to teach people about LGBTQ history. As such, the city convened a task force in 2005-2006 to look at these issues.

Based on research from the task force, the city developed a goal to gradually extend the Pride Event to incorporate a month-long series of arts, film, cultural, and social activities that celebrate the creativity and diversity of the West Hollywood/Los Angeles LGBT community.

Project Summary:
The City’s Arts & Cultural Affairs Commission (ACAC) took on the task of addressing this recommendation in 2008, resulting in the creation of One City One Pride. Organizations were encouraged to apply for general grant funds to present art projects with LGBTQ themes during the month of June and the city/commission created a branding and marketing platform to promote them through a dedicated web presence and pamphlet.

In 2012, the city further invested in the arts by adding a new staff position of Arts Coordinator who had responsibilities for programming at the Library and other venues, marketing arts events, and principal coordination for One City One Pride. In addition, council provided $25,000 of general fund dollars to support One City One Pride, which had previously not had a specific budget attached to it. The city’s addition of a staff member who could focus more time and effort onto One City One Pride allowed the program to thrive.

The majority of programming for One City One Pride is derived via an open call for city-funded grants. A conscious decision was made to have the grants be open to both arts organizations and to individual artists (a relative rarity in government funding) to provide greater accessibility for underserved populations who might not have the backing of a 501(c)3 organization.

Part of the requirements for One City One Pride grants include that the programs must be free to attend or have a maximum ticket price of $10. This is designed to make sure that programming is accessible to anyone regardless of economic status. Generally, about 90% of One City One Pride programs are free to attend.

Engagement Strategies:
In 2016, the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division undertook an 18 month community outreach process to create a cultural plan which provides a framework to organize, develop, and sustain the work of the city’s arts and culture programs over the next 5+ years. The process included contributions or input from 1,700 individuals, and involved 26 arts and culture pop-ups, 17 “Living Room Sessions” (informal talkbacks around specific arts and culture topics), the collection of 731 online and in-person surveys, and 4 workshops led by social practice artists intended to deeply engage specific populations in West Hollywood (seniors and teens). Following review by the City’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, the cultural plan was adopted by the West Hollywood City Council on August 21, 2017. The Plan is designed to continue to collect feedback from the community through ongoing “Artist Roundtables” and “Living Room Sessions.”

The resulting cultural plan, named ‘WeHo Arts: The Plan, provides a flexible framework involving 5 principles:

  1. Space
  2. Engagement
  3. Support
  4. Visibility
  5. Experimentation

Within these principles there were 20 specific recommendations. One City One Pride engages all five principles of the plan and uses the plan’s recommendations and feedback from the community in charting a course to the future.

The One City One Pride festival has produced many programs, events, and outcomes.

  • Poster designing competition – The city has averaged 100 submissions per year from artists from six continents, including submissions from several countries where gay activity is illegal, such as Iran. The competition also helps spread awareness of West Hollywood internationally.
  • Install WeHo, a “Queer Pop-Up Art Village” – A collection of installations by LGBTQ artists in U-Haul trucks that was co-produced by the city and ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives. LA Pride incorporated much of the artwork from Install:WeHo into a new “Arts and Heritage” Pavilion as part of that year’s LA Pride festival.
  • Forty events and exhibitions around the theme “I Remember” (commemorating the people and events which paved the way for the rights we hold dear today). These included:
    • A public exhibition which featured biographies of 38 influential LGBTQ rights pioneers and 40 panels on the history of the LGBTQ rights movement.
    • A reading of ‘Dear Harvey’ (a play about Harvey Milk) performed by a cast of professional actors, community members and elected officials, including City of LA Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and City of West Hollywood Mayor John Duran. Produced with Celebration Theatre, the oldest continuously running LGBTQ Theatre organization in the world.
    • A performance of and talkback with the creators of Considering Matthew Shepard, a choral work about the life of Matthew Shepard, 20 years after his death.
    • A panel discussion featuring several of the people who hand-made the first Rainbow Flags in 1978 in San Francisco.
    • An open call play-reading festival.
    • An exhibition of photographs of Christopher Isherwood (author of A Single Man, Berlin Stories) and his partner Don Bachardy, paired with original paintings by Bachardy. As a result of the exhibition, some of the photos will be included in an upcoming exhibit at the Schulwes Museum in Berlin.
    • A performance piece developed by a theatre organization which works with LGBT seniors to share their personal stories and pair them with song. 2018 featured three blind participants, one student who is encountering severe memory loss and a gentleman who was a stroke survivor.
  • Greater participation from the transgender community – The number of transgender-related applications for the One City One Pride Grant tripled from 2015 to 2018.
  • Pride leadership in the region – In 2012, West Hollywood played host to approximately 40% of all Pride Month events. The following year, West Hollywood’s programs comprised 70% of events in the region (according to the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs Annual LGBT Heritage Calendar and Cultural Guide).

Additional Resources:
One City One Pride website
West Hollywood, CA– 2019 AAC Winner: Presentation
Local Contact:
Mike Che
Art Coordinator, City of West Hollywood
8300 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069


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