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Agency of Assets is ICA LA’s Pathway to the Creative Economy
Three women working at a textile factory.

Agency of Assets is a seven month fellowship program created by the Learning & Engagement Department of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA). The initiative is designed to build pathways for youth into the creative economy by way of learning workshops, prolonged mentorships, excursions and tactical experience in the field. ICA LA engages the local community by collaborating with creative organizations, businesses, and artists to bring the Agency of Assets program to life. 

ICA LA created the fellowship as a way to confront the lack of diversity within leadership roles in the creative industry. Recognizing the importance of diversifying LA's creative economy to reflect the demographic of the city, ICA LA works to give the adequate resources and experience to youth fellows so that they can achieve economic mobility and build successful communities. The yearly cohort of 15 participants comes from areas including Boyle Heights, Downtown LA, and South LA. Utilizing the creative and social driven tools acquired from the Agency of Assets program, fellows are equipped to enact positive change within their communities. Alumni of the program bring a diverse voice to the creative economy and tell the unique stories of their communities that have long been ignored or silenced. In doing so, not only are they making an impact on their neighborhoods, but they’re also implementing structural changes within the creative economy as a whole. 

The fellowship program consists of three phases that each work to build the young creatives into confident professionals. The first phase is “Exploration” which allows participants to delve into the many avenues of the creative economy in LA through immersive field trips. These excursions allow the fellows to understand the various sectors of the creative economy while finding their preferred place within it. The exploration phase encourages the participants to learn about the mission of each business as well as what it takes to run a creative and cultural enterprise, from art museums to bookstores to grassroot organizations. In the past year, some of the organizations that partnered with ICA LA during this phase included Luna Luna, Hauser & Wirth, and The Broad Museum

The second phase of the fellowship is “Employment” where the youth participants are brought into full-time summer positions with the creative nonprofits and businesses that they became acquainted with during the exploration phase. During the employment stage, the cohort reconvenes on a weekly basis to share and discuss their learnings with one another and reflect on their development throughout the summer. 

The last phase of the Agency of Assets program is “Engagement” where the youth fellows collaborate with Los Angeles-based artists on a final exhibition that is showcased at ICA LA. This is an opportunity for the participants to present the skills that they’ve sharpened throughout the program and receive recognition for their growth as creative individuals.

In addition to giving youth fellows an understanding of the creative economy and the professional skills that will aid in their career success, the Agency of Assets program also commits to empowering young people to have agency over their futures. This includes financial literacy courses and 1:1 mentorship. ICA LA’s dedication to developing the whole person is what contributes to the success of the program's alumni and the diversification and progression of the Los Angeles creative economy.