How Side Street Projects is Supporting Artists and Communities

Side Street Projects is breaking barriers to ensure equitable access to the arts within the community. In keeping with its mission to give artists of all ages the ability and means to support their creative endeavors, the local nonprofit serves more than 1,000 artists and over 4,000 children each year.

A mobile, artist-run organization, Side Street Projects supports artists and communities through its numerous arts-based programs and projects—including SkillShare workshops, as well as Side Street’s Mobile Youth Education Program that serves at-risk youth. “We are devoted to community-centered artists through community-led programming that promotes creativity, well-being, and the potential for collective growth,” explains Side Street Projects Executive Director Emily Hopkins. “In our 28 years, we have become more than just a business. We are a community of artists who support each other through sharing of skills, and a deep love for celebrating the culture of Los Angeles and all that connects us together.”

Side Street Projects encourages creative problem-solving within a hands-on artmaking context, which is reflected in their “make do/DIY” operation. “Our offices are restored vintage trailers and modified shipping containers,” explains Hopkins of the site (located behind John Muir High School). “Our classrooms are housed in buses and trailers. It all runs on a mobile solar energy array.”

The artistically-inclined approach works and, with the aforementioned problem-solving mentality in mind, Side Street Projects has been pushing through COVID-19’s accompanying challenges, implementing virtual options of artist projects and developing virtual versions of the “My Masterpieces” public art program that serves all second graders in PUSD, and there is a plan to work with Rose City High School to develop a virtual version of “No Boundaries,” the districtwide art exhibition this spring.

Hopkins notes, “Despite going formally on pause, the Side Street community continued to work and connect. As waves of activism passed through our communities, our artists found themselves being leaders in their own networks as everyone looked to support each other on a grassroots level. The community of Side Street Projects never went on pause.”

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