Lassen Arts Council Hosts ‘Listening Tour’ for $60M State Program to Hire Artists as Community Health Ambassadors

Spurring from the COVID crisis, the Governor and the state legislature have launched a 60 million dollar program to employ artists to push health agendas. Program participants are coming to speak in Lassen County.

Originating from the Mayor’s office in San Francisco, the first pilot program hired artists to encourage public health best practices such as mask-wearing and social distancing in the city’s most crowded areas. Street performers could be seen carrying signs reading, ‘SF loves your mask’ and ‘masks are sexy.’

Already touring through Plumas county and today visiting the Lassen Arts council, the California Creative Corps program pilot program was designed to increase public health awareness messages to stop the spread of COVID, bring Public awareness to water and energy conservation, climate mitigation, emergency preparedness, relief, and recovery, along with civic engagement including election participation, and social justice and community engagement.

The state will administer grants to accomplish these goals to arts and social service organizations, individual artists, and cultural workers. The funds would be used for media, outreach, and engagement campaigns.

With a 4.2 million dollar grant, The Nevada County Arts Council,  in support of the California Arts Council, is touring communities across the upstate region that fall short on California’s healthy places index. Lassen and Plumas fall short on the scale that looks at social conditions that drive health, including education, job opportunities, clean air and water, and race demographics.

The Upstate listening tour began on October 1st. It will continue through December, visiting 19 counties and their local arts councils to elicit a conversation about how artists can help their communities tackle their most critical issues.

Californians for the Arts Executive Director says this is the first large-scale pandemic-era program in the country but follows the Work Progress Administration and Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973, which also aimed to hire artists into public service.

Baker says this is not a bailout effort for a struggling industry but an investment and opportunity for service in times of crisis, saying the creativity of artists can be used to heal and help communicate.

The employment of artists to act as community health ambassadors by arts and social service organizations are expected to begin as early as next year.

This evening the Lassen County Arts Council will co-host the CA Creative Corps ‘Listening Session’ at the Arts Gallery starting at 5:30.