Call for Artists: Visual Communications partners with Little Tokyo Service Center for +LAB Artist Residency Program

We are pleased to announce that we have partnered with the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) for its inaugural +LAB Artist Residency Program. 

Through this program, we are looking to co-create with a media artist (film/video, new media, photography, audio) who is willing to learn about the local spaces and places that we navigate. We are also looking for an artist to inspire and teach us through their form and experiences. Together, we hope to discover stories/histories that will shape our communities, our futures, and hopefully, us.

Visual Communications will provide you our resources (staff, creative spaces, archives) and an environment to examine, explore, and engage. During your residency, VC will be also be presenting the annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. We're excited to host during this period of our annual programming.

The deadline for submission is January 15, 2018. Click here to apply.



Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) of Los Angeles is pleased to announce its inaugural +LAB Artist Residency Program. A Call for Entry on the Western States Arts Foundation CAFÉ web site is now active for California-based artists only, who wish to work within the Little Tokyo community. The deadline for submission is Jan. 15, 2018, at 10:59 p.m. PST.

Established in 1884, Little Tokyo is Los Angeles’ second oldest neighborhood and the largest of four remaining Japantowns in the United States. The neighborhood continues to serve as a cultural center for Japanese Americans across Southern California and the nation.

In its 133-year history, Little Tokyo has withstood numerous acts of displacement including the forced removal and incarceration of people of Japanese descent during World War II and the demolition of whole tracts of housing, businesses, churches, and temples that occurred during the city’s urban renewal and civic center expansion of the 1950s through the 1970s.

Today, what remains of Little Tokyo is roughly nine square blocks. The latest threat to the cultural and historic identity of Little Tokyo comes in the form of the market rate housing boom in Downtown LA, which is making the neighborhood less accessible to individuals and families of all incomes. Commercial rents have also risen, forcing out longtime small business owners.

Throughout its history, Little Tokyo and its stakeholders have struggled to define their community, based on core values such as equality, justice, sustainability, and self-determination. Arts and culture has always been an integral part of this movement.

Through this residency, LTSC seeks to further explore and deepen the relationship between arts and the pursuit of self-determination. To be fully immersed in Little Tokyo, participants will be embedded in local community organizations and will live at the historic Daimaru Hotel—a single room occupancy hotel that is an important piece of Little Tokyo’s legacy. Artists in this program will have the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to Little Tokyo’s fight for self-determination while also spending three months deepening their own community practice.

The Creative Placemaking Challenge and Opportunity for Little Tokyo Service Center and its +LAB Artist Residency Program

Little Tokyo is a special place for approximately 5000 Angelenos who call it home, and for the many thousands more who pass through it every day. In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, where there are 60 languages spoken on a daily basis, retaining the identity and history of Little Tokyo is a creative challenge that artists have embraced since they moved here more than a century ago. The +LAB Artist Residency Program in its pilot years will be asking basic questions:

  • How can we more creatively highlight Little Tokyo's story - past and present - and connection to a larger Los Angeles identity of historic ethnic neighborhoods?

  • How can we engage arts and artists/cultural workers to build local power and advance community control over Little Tokyo's future?

  • How can community development efforts support existing community, arts and cultural assets, ensuring the long-term viability of affordable housing for residents with low incomes and historic small businesses?

About the +LAB Artist Residency

LTSC, a Community Development Corporation in Los Angeles, California, presents the +LAB Artist Residency Program, which seeks four California-based artists (including one from the Little Tokyo community) for a three-month community-based residency, this coming May 1 through July 30, 2018.

Call for Entry Opens Nov. 15, 2017-Deadline Jan. 15, 2018 10:59 p.m. PST

Residency Theme

Selected California artists (including at least one artist from the Little Tokyo community)from multiple disciplines will collaborate with local arts organizations to create artworks and projects promoting community engagement and creative placemaking strategies around the broad theme of “Community Control and Self Determination” This might include: addressing issues of affordable housing and homelessness; building bridges across cultural, generational, and/or linguistic divides; devising artistic strategies to connect Little Tokyo with other communities of color; enhancing the safety and security of local residents; fostering community-wide conversations about the future development of the neighborhood; promoting a healthy and sustainable small business economy; and reclaiming city-owned land that was previously part of Little Tokyo.

The +LAB Residency will be a supportive cohort of the selected four artists in residence who will meet regularly with the each other and the collaborating organizations to research, conceptualize and manifest projects around the overarching theme of “Community Control and Self Determination” The cohort will meet weekly with community members, and bi-monthly to exchange ideas and information about the projects they are involved with.

Artists will develop projects in the first month of their residency. Applicants are not being asked to propose projects.

Artists of Multiple Disciplines Encouraged to Apply

LTSC seeks creative artists whose artistic practice reflects a desire to work collaboratively or within a community context; reflects an awareness of culture, socio-economic and political paradigms; has a demonstrated interest in subject matter addressing the history of Japanese American communities; and is willing to be engaged with a residency program through their social and civic practice; sculpture and installation; visual art; photography, video or media; design; creative writing; movement and dance; music, or performance traditions.

Accommodations and Meals

  • Please visit the Daimaru hotel website when considering whether to apply for the residency. The residency is designed to be an immersive experience in the Little Tokyo community. All of the artists will live at the Daimaru Hotel with single rooms, shared bath and toilets, and shared kitchen. The Daimaru Hotel is an historic single room occupancy hotel owned by LTSC with deep roots in the Little Tokyo community. The hotel has long-term residents from the Little Tokyo community, and some short-term rooms for visitors. It is clean and well maintained, with artwork in the halls and in the rooms. The rooms are basic and the location is in the heart of Little Tokyo. It is a unique experience in the Little Tokyo community for artists who understand this kind of urban experience. The hotel is an older structure and is not ADA compliant. Applicants who are accepted who need ADA facilities will have their needs addressed on a case-by-case basis.


Stipends, Travel and Material Support

The residency offers a monthly stipend, designed to help cover costs of the residency as well as additional expenses. There is a travel budget if needed, and a budget for projects and materials. These funds will first be submitted as a budget for approval through the artist’s host organization based on the proposed projects artists develop related to the residency theme.

  • $4000 monthly stipend

  • Up to $500 Round Trip in-state travel

  • Up to $8000 project budget

Partnering Organizations

The selected visiting artists will be hosted by local arts organizations that will provide staff support, studio and workspace. Participating organizations are the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center; the Japanese American National Museum; Sustainable Little Tokyo; and Visual Communications.

Japanese American Cultural & Community Center

Founded in 1971, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States. A hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture and a community gathering place for the diverse voices it inspires – Japanese American Cultural & Community Center connects traditional and contemporary; community participants and creative professionals; Southern California and the world beyond. Since first opening its doors in 1980, JACCC has evolved into one of the largest ethnic art and cultural centers in the U.S. Its owned-and-operated facilities include the Center Building (which houses the George J. Doizaki Gallery, the Japanese Cultural Room, conference and meeting rooms, and office space for more than 20 nonprofit tenant organizations), the 880-seat Aratani Theatre, JACCC Plaza designed by Isamu Noguchi, and the award-winning James Irvine Japanese Garden. Over the last 38 years, JACCC has presented international artists of all disciplines. We are excited about the opportunity to host an artist in residence to work on our multidisciplinary campus and work with our artistic team, Hirokazau Kosaka and Alison De La Cruz and connect with the traditional and contemporary cultural groups that are part of our community.

Japanese American National Museum

The mission of the Japanese American National Museum is to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. We share the story of Japanese Americans because we honor our nation’s diversity. We believe in the importance of remembering our history to better guard against the prejudice that threatens liberty and equality in a democratic society. We strive as a world-class museum to provide a voice for Japanese Americans and a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. We promote continual exploration of the meaning and value of ethnicity in our country through programs that preserve individual dignity, strengthen our communities, and increase respect among all people. We believe that our work will transform lives, create a more just America and, ultimately, a better world.

Sustainable Little Tokyo

The mission of Sustainable Little Tokyo is to develop a dynamic community-driven future for Little Tokyo through green initiatives, small business development, and cultural/arts programming that perpetuates its historic character for generations to come. Since late 2012, Little Tokyo has been developing and implementing a vision for neighborhood sustainability that respects and enhances the neighborhood’s history and culture. The vision is based on community values for resource conservation, mottainai, and consideration of children and future generations, kodomono tameni. In the Japanese and Japanese-American communities, “Mottainai” is a familiar Japanese phrase, roughly translated as “Don’t be wasteful.” Artists are at the heart of our Sustainable Little Tokyo work. Artists are integrated into creative problem solving and community engagement with regards to issues of the built environment, environmental strategies, land use, and working with Metro regarding transportation.

Visual Communications

Our mission is to develop and support the voices of Asian American & Pacific Islander filmmakers and media artists who empower communities and challenge perspectives. Founded in 1970 with the understanding that media and the arts are powerful forms of storytelling, Visual Communications creates cross-cultural connections between peoples and generations.

Our programming includes: the annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and year‐round screenings and exhibitions; the Armed With a Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists; the Digital Histories media production and storytelling project for senior citizens; and C3: The Conference for Creative Content. We are home to the VC Vault, one of the largest photographic and moving image archives on Asian Pacific experiences in America.

Through “AIR”, we are looking to co-create with a media artist (film/video, new media, photography, audio) who is willing to learn about the local spaces and places that we navigate. We are also looking for an artist to inspire and teach us through their form and experiences. Together, we hope to discover stories/histories that will shape our communities, our futures, and hopefully, us.

Visual Communications will provide you our resources (staff, creative spaces, archives) and an environment to examine, explore, and engage. During your residency, VC will be also be presenting the annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. We're excited to host during this period of our annual programming.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

This Call for Entry is for California artists only. At least one artist who either lives and/or is historically connected to the Little Tokyo community will be selected. Preference will be given to applicants who have experience working with communities and groups of people in some fashion in their practice, and whose work demonstrates a maturity and professionalism in their practice. Applicants must be:

  • At least 21 years of age by application deadline

  • Not currently enrolled in a degree-seeking program (a college degree is not a requirement of this program)

  • Able to participate in the residency for the full three month period

  • Must be living and working in California

  • Must stay in the Daimaru Hotel for the full three months

What is the Selection Process?

Artists who are interested in this residency will submit an application to the +LAB Artist Residency in a competitive selection process. A panel of professionals from the Little Tokyo community and the program’s partner organizations will be responsible for the selection of artists. Decisions will be made on the work samples, the applicant’s responses to the application questions, clarity of the artist statement, references and final interview.

Finalists will have Skype video interviews with the selection panel, providing an opportunity for them to share their work and ideas, and to ask questions of the panel. Following the interviews and final panel deliberations, the selected artists will be notified by phone and written correspondence.

A Description of the Work Samples

Applications must be completed at the Call For Entry website ( The title of the call is “Little Tokyo Service Center +LAB Artist Residency.” The deadline for applications is Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, 10:59 p.m. PST. No late applications will be considered. Application questions include an artist statement and additional questions about your practice and experience. You will be asked for two references, and a resume or CV.

Work Samples should be carefully selected and prepared to provide a strong representation of your work. Samples should represent work that has been completed within the last 3-5 years.

Work Sample Requirements:

  • Up to 10 jpegs for visual artists

  • Up to 3 audio or video samples for performing artists or exclusively time-based visual artists

  • Up to 5 jpegs + up to 2 audio/visual samples for visual artists working in combination of still and time-based media

  • Up to 3 writing samples/excerpts for writers (maximum of 10,000 words combined)

  • For artists creating both still and time-based work, you may submit a combination of documentation of work completed in the past 3-5 years. You may submit either (6) images and (1) video totaling no more than 5-minutes, or (2) images and (2) videos totaling no more than 8-minutes. Compilation videos, as described above, are encouraged.

Fuller Detail:

VISUAL ARTISTS NOT SUBMITTING VIDEO: submit up to ten (10) digital images of work created within the past three years. The quality of work samples is very important. Submit as jpeg files as per the CAFE system instructions. Below, provide the following information on each work you have submitted: title, date, medium, and dimensions. You can add one sentence describing each work if you choose.

VISUAL ARTISTS CREATING TIME-BASED WORK: Submit up to 3 audio or video work samples, or a combination of up to 5 images and up to 2 audio or video samples of works created in the past 3 years. Upload your audio or video files directly through CAFE as per the CAFE system instructions. Maximum file size for video samples is 100MB per file. Maximum file size for audio files is 10MB per file. Then enter below information about each work sample you are submitting: title, date, media, as well as a brief description.

PERFORMING ARTISTS: Please submit up to 3 audio or video work samples of performance-based work created/performed in the past 3 years. Note - the panel will view up to 5 minutes of materials. (You may submit one five-minute compilation if preferred.) Submit your audio or video files directly through CAFE as per the CAFE system instructions. Maximum file size for video samples is 100MB per file. Maximum file size for audio files is 10MB per file. Then enter below details about each work sample you are submitting. The list should include title of piece/performance and date, as well as a brief description.

WRITERS: Please submit up to 3 writing samples/excerpts from the past 3 years that best exemplify your work. Together, these should total no more than 10,000 words. Please combine in one PDF and upload here. You may include a brief intro summary/description for each sample in the PDF.

Files must be formatted and uploaded per Call for Entry standards for image, audio, and visual files. See here:

Apply Here

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I bring family members and/or friends with me?

The residency is a single occupancy room and cannot accommodate spouses, children, or partners. You can have them visit at your expense and have them stay at a nearby hotel. However, it remains a condition of the residency that you stay at the Hotel Daimaru.

Are there gym or fitness centers nearby?

There are local gym and fitness centers nearby.

Is the Daimaru Hotel ADA Accessible?

The Hotel is not ADA (Americans with Disability Act) accessible, as it is an older structure and the lobby is on the second floor. If a successful applicant needs a handicapped accessible facility and room we will address these needs on a case-by-case basis.

What dining options are available?

There is a shared kitchen on the third floor of the hotel where artists can prepare their meals. There are also numerous restaurants, grocery stores and food shops in the neighborhood.

Is Internet access available?

WiFi is available in the hotel. Partnering organizations will provide internet at their offices as well.

Should I bring my laptop?

We encourage you to bring your own laptop if you have one. Partnering organizations will provide access to printers and desktops.

What type of studio/workspace will be provided?

The host organizations will provide studio or workspace for each artist. Depending on discipline, project or need, the space will vary and will be determined closer to the residency date.

How long is the residency?

The residency begins May 1 and ends July 30, 2018. Artists are expected to complete the full term of the residency. If, for any reason, artists must leave during the residency for reasons other than a family emergency, they must request permission in writing.

What are transportation options are available?

There are LA Metro rail stations nearby that provide access to most of the city. Uber, Lyft, Flex Car and the Metro Bike Share system are other options. You do not need a car to get around Little Tokyo. If you want to explore further afield, we can help. LA is a big place.

Are pets allowed?

Pets are not allowed at the residency.