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Takachizu - a pop-up community exhibit + LAB designed to protect and grow the culture of Little Tokyo
Dexters Story performing as part of "Bronzeville, Little Tokyo" during Visual Communications 33rd LAAP Film Festival
Voice projection mapping during "Bronzeville, Little Tokyo" during during Visual Communications 33rd LAAP Film Festival

Little Tokyo Service Center +LAB Artist Residency Program

Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), a community development corporation in Los Angeles, CA, presents the +LAB Artist Residency Program, which seeks four artists for a three-month community based residency from May through July 2018. 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; or reclaiming city-owned land that has historically formed part of Little Tokyo.

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, Little Tokyo Service Center (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 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. The +LAB Residency will be a supportive cohort of the selected four artists in residence who will meet regularly with each other along with the collaborating organizations to research, conceptualize and manifest projects around the overarching theme of “Community Control and Self Determination.”

Little Tokyo Service Center 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 the residency program through their art making disciplines including: social and civic practice; sculpture and installation; visual art; photography, video or media; design; creative writing; movement and dance; music or performance traditions.


Los Angeles, California: United States

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 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.


  • Residency Length: 3 months
  • Average number of artists in residence at a time: 4
  • Number of artists accepted in most recent year: N/A
  • Total applicant pool in most current year: N/A


  • Application type: Open application
  • Collaboration: Must apply and be accepted individually
  • Geography: Open to US artists
  • Additional eligibility information: 

    At least 21 years of age by application deadline
    Not currently enrolled in a degree-seeking program
    Able to participate in the residency for the full three month period
    Must live and work in California
    Must agree to live at the Hotel Daimaru for the entire 3-month residency
    CV should demonstrate working professionally for at least five years

    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.

  • Application deadline: January 15

Facilities & Services

  • Housing: Private bedroom in a shared housing facility
    Private bedroom in Hotel Daimaru in downtown Los Angeles with shared bath It is important to look at the hotel website when considering the residency. The Daimaru Hotel is an historic Single Room Occupancy Hotel owned by the Little Tokyo Service Center 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 and will be an immersion in the community. This is an old building that is not ADA compliant. If an accepted applicant needs ADA compliant accommodations we will discuss on a case by case basis.
  • Meals: No meals/food provided
    Shared full kitchen on third floor. Restaurants nearby.
  • Computer/internet access: Wireless Internet
  • Accessibility: no
  • Additional studio information: 
    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. LTSC and the partner organizations will aim to ensure artists have all they need in order to fully execute their work.

Residency Fees

Residency Application Fee: $15

Stipends / other support

$4000 monthly stipend Up to $500 RT in-state travel Up to $8000 project budget The residency offers a generous monthly stipend, designed to help cover costs of the residency as well as some costs the artists will have back at home if possible. 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 artist develop related to the residency theme.

Additional expectations / opportunities

Contact Information

231 East 3rd Street
Suite G-106
Los Angeles, California 90013
United States