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2018 Artist-in-Residence Kuniharu Yoshida doing a street Calligraphy and Pop-lock performance. Photo - Rudy Espinoza
2018 Artist-in-Residence holds a Story Circle for his performance "Tales of Little Tokyo"
2018 Artist-in-Residence Tina Takemoto conducts a "Draw on Film" workshop for youth and families. Photo Florante Ibanez
2018 Artist-in-Residence Susu Attar walks through the noren designed with images of community members. Photo Mike Dennis
2018 Artists-in-Residence Susu Attar and Tina Takemoto collaborated for "Food on Film" Photo Rudy Espinoza

Little Tokyo Service Center +LAB Artist Residency Program

The 2019 +LAB Artist Residency is a creative place-keeping residency that will focus on addressing the most recent cycle of displacement that is affecting Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. We are seeking community-engaged artists who will help LTSC successfully advocate for the responsible development of two highly contested parcels of land owned by the City of Los Angeles: First Street North (FSN) and the Mangrove block (Mangrove). While Little Tokyo has been physically and culturally reshaped by several well-documented cycles of displacement, these blocks (which include 5+ acres of developable land) represent an opportunity for the neighborhood to counteract these cycles through the implementation of the community’s vision for this land.


This year’s cohort of four artists will work together with Little Tokyo stakeholders and residents in a three-month immersive residency to create a project or projects based on this theme.

The overarching question for artists to consider is:

How can creative strategies and artistic interventions positively impact the devastation caused by past and present development that threaten the sustainability of our community:
Displacement of multi-generational small businesses
Erasure of the neighborhood’s cultural (and multi-cultural) identity
Threats to development of affordable and homeless supportive housing
Displacement of the area’s houseless community

LTSC +LAB’s vision is that selected artists will create an achievable project outcome which meets one of the following two criteria:

Projects should be designed to refine the community’s vision for these sites via interactive engagement and artistic collaboration with community members and stakeholders—particularly those who are traditionally left out of planning processes (low income residents, small business owners, people experiencing homelessness)


Projects should be designed to encourage the City of Los Angeles to implement the Little Tokyo’s vision for the subject sites and/or call attention to the legacy of displacement as a means to underscore the importance of the community vision.

These projects should also be designed in a way that they can be sustained by the community after the conclusion of the residency period.

Artists applying could look at various approaches to the residency to inspire and encourage the Little Tokyo community. We are open to participants’ interpretation of the theme, however a few examples are:

  • Design a social media campaign asking the City to support affordable housing in Little Tokyo including permanent supportive housing for the homeless
  • Develop a billboard or media campaign publicizing the displacement crisis in Little Tokyo
  • Utilize the residency workshop space on First Street North to develop and execute creative community engagement strategies.
  • Establish a base level of awareness about people experiencing homelessness throughout the Little Tokyo community and begin developing a cohesive sense of empathy amongst community members --working to reduce the stigma and misconceptions within the community, and underscoring the importance of including them in the planning and visioning processes for these sites.
  • Work with historic small businesses located on First Street North—many of which are under threat of displacement—to develop a campaign to increase business and awareness of the legacy of small businesses in Little Tokyo.
  • Residency Information:

    The LTSC +LAB Artist Residency is a community based, engaged residency, with a generous stipend and project budget. The residency is fully immersive: selected artists will live for three months in the Daimaru Hotel on First Street in Little Tokyo and will be paired with a local arts organization: Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Sustainable Little Tokyo, Visual Communications, or the Japanese American National Museum.

    Artists will work as a cohort and have a shared workshop. Studio space or other work space may be procured based on the needs of the project. Artists are expected to work with the community and their non-profit host organizations as collaborators. The cohort of artists will work with guidance from local artists and specialists from the Little Tokyo community, and each residency artist will have great leeway to bring their ideas and talents to this residency program in our unique community, Little Tokyo.


    Little Tokyo Service Center seeks artists whose creative practice reflects a desire to work collaboratively or within a community context; reflects an awareness of culture, socio-economic and political paradigms; have a demonstrated interest in subject matter addressing either the history of Japanese American communities or other communities of color; and have experience in other communities facing displacement.

    Artists with experience in the ideas and practices of creative placemaking, social practice, public practice, or community-based arts will be the most successful candidates. Artists of all disciplines may apply, although the residency may be best suited for artists working with media (video, photography), social media, design, graphic design, architecture, landscape architecture, public practice, civic practice, social practice, writing, or performance art. We do not discriminate based on age, race, or gender.


    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: 4
    • Total applicant pool in most current year: 120


    • 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 (at least 1 year)
      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
      Artists will stay in a small private bedroom in the Daimaru Hotel in the heart of Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles. 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, bathrooms and the kitchen are shared spaces and are down the hallway from the rooms.. The kitchen is heavily utilized by all residents and can be challenging to fully use depending on your personal cooking/eating habits. We advise being prepared to use some of the stipend to eat out occasionally, there are many great and affordable restaurants nearby as well as grocery stores. The residency also provides a storefront space on the ground floor for the residents where there is a refrigerator, microwave, and coffeemaker. Residents can store and prepare some food there as well as in the kitchen. This is a historic building that is not ADA compliant. If an accepted applicant needs ADA compliant accommodations we will discuss on a case by case basis. We highly recommend you review the hotel website when considering the residency.
    • Meals: No meals/food provided
      Shared full kitchen on third floor. Restaurants nearby.
    • Computer/internet access: Computer and internet connection provided in common area (shared), Wireless Internet
    • Accessibility: no
    • Additional studio information: 
      The co-host organizations (JACCC, VC, SLT, JANM) will provide technical support for the artists. Depending on discipline, project or need, they may provide work or office space but this 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 $6500 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