PASADENA, Calif. – Hip hop is for everyone and if you grew up in Los Angeles, hip hop is a part of your culture regardless of your background. David Lee is the Artistic Director of Culture Shock LA and he’s been teaching empowerment and confidence to young students through the art of hip hop dance for six years.
“We really love starting with hip hop because there’s so much foundation, so much history, so much rich beautiful art within hip hop that we can teach our younger students and so that they can carry that with them for the rest of their lives,” said Lee.
Due to COVID-19, arts organizations, especially those with limited resources, have been struggling to support their communities.
Thankfully, the LA County Department of Arts and Culture has allocated $10 million dollars from the CARES Act to sustain arts nonprofits during the shutdown. Culture Shock LA received $9000, which will allow Lee to maintain the free programs they provide their dance students.
“It really allows them to not only have the dance lessons, but also build life lessons and build relationships that are able to create long lasting growth,” said Lee. “And the education that comes in it, it’s not only about the books you read, it’s not only about the tests that you take, but I do feel like the education comes in the movement, the education comes in the music, the education comes in the performance.”
It’s an investment L.A. County feels well worth making. Kristin Sakoda is executive director of the L.A. County Department of Arts & Culture.
“We know that more than a third of arts organizations in L.A. have had to furlough or lay off staff, but we also know that more than 80 percent of them continue to try to provide performances or virtual experiences whether they’re getting paid or not,” explained Sakoda.
Sakoda reports 50 percent of arts organizations would not survive COVID-19 without relief funds and considering Culture Shock LA alone provides classes to thousands of students every year, the loss would be immeasurable.
Isabella Gonzalez has been a member of 8 years.
“It’s changed my life in so many ways,” said Gonzalez. “It’s really taught me how to embrace myself and really love others around me. It’s such a family oriented organization and I don’t know what I’d do without it.”
It’s been painful for Lee to see so many dance studios and arts facilities close during COVID-19 so he’s grateful the relief grant will help keep not just his organization going, but his programs alive.
“If there’s anything that we’ve learned, the arts need to stay,” said Lee. “We need to support our families, we need to support our arts students, we need to support our youth. Arts is so important to us and we need to maintain that.”
Move your body and support your local arts nonprofit.