Logo for Venice Arts


Our Story
Soon after the civil unrest in Los Angeles, and after one of what were to be many cuts to arts education in Los Angeles' public schools, a group of Venice residents—artists, business people, and other community members—came together to figure out how to link Venice's then large community of emerging and established artists with the significant number of kids living in poverty. Our dream? A vibrant, neighborhood arts center open to the whole community, but with a core commitment to nurturing creativity and possibility in the lives of young people. In 1993, Venice Arts was born.

With an all-volunteer crew of photographers who understood the power of visual storytelling and self-representation—especially for kids marginalized because of their economic class, race, or immigration status—our first workshop, Venice Through Our Eyes, was conceived. It taught 10 kids how to use their camera to explore, describe, and share their world, and launched our pioneering work in what is now called participatory or participant-produced media, which is still a strong component of our programs today.

Now, we serve over 450 low-income young people, each year, through what remains our largest, core program, Art Mentoring & Education; engage a broad community at our Gallery through exhibitions, screenings, and public programs; and consult and train others interested in our model around the world.

Who We Serve

Venice Arts’ largest, longest-running program, Art Mentoring & Education, provides a sequenced, Media Arts Education curriculum, college success programs, and creative career development—completely free of charge to low-income young people from throughout Los Angeles. Our Center for Creative Workforce Equity targets young people ages 16-24, offering a sequenced program—from exposure, education, and training through internship placement—that helps build a more equitable and inclusive creative sector. Priority is given to uplifting those whose lives have been most challenged, including homeless, foster, justice involved, and LGBTQ youth.

Through all of our programs we reach over 800 young people, each year. As community demand far exceeds our current facility capacities, we turn away approximately 150 low-income youth annually. 95% of youth served are low-income; 53% live in poverty. Just under 50% live in Venice, Mar Vista, Culver City, and neighborhoods with high pockets of poverty on the West Side; the balance live throughout Los Angeles County including Mid-City, South L.A., and Inglewood, and some travel from as far as Norwalk and the Antelope Valley to participate. Most (85%) are youth of color, the majority children of immigrants, and nearly all attend poorly performing public schools and have no access to meaningful creative education.

At our Gallery, we provide a venue for photographers and filmmakers to exhibit and screen their work, and for community members—including the young people in our programs and their families—to engage with artists and art. We market broadly, although most intensively to the local area, and draws audiences of approximately 1000 people, each year, from a range of backgrounds, ethnicities, and income levels interested in photography and filmmaking.

Our consulting, training, and participant-produced documentary project-based and client-driven and are conducted locally, statewide, and internationally. We work primarily with economically marginalized community members or the organizations that serve them, each reflecting a range of concerns unique to their communities.

A neighborhood arts center with a regional and global reach. Venice Arts attracts participants from Los Angeles and, through its consulting programs, from around the globe.

When reality meets film production...