Arts Access is Fundamental

Author: Rafael Gonzalez – President & CEO, Grand Performances, and CNM Board Member

Growing up with downtown LA as my backyard, I’m honored to today be leading Grand Performances as its President and CEO. For more than 36 years, GP has given Angelenos one-of-a-kind experiences and profound connections to local artists and world musicians. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing many of GP’s memorable performances over the last 30 years and being part of an eclectic audience that continues to evolve and reflect the LA region; one that recognizes Los Angeles as the world and the world as Los Angeles. I am blessed to be in a role that fuses my commitment to social justice, passion for the arts, and respect for the communities that make up our great city.

During Grand Performances’ 2022 summer season, I observed our audiences’ reactions and love for the diverse performances we brought to our stage. For me, it validated the importance of creating spaces for creative expression and personal growth through arts and music. I know firsthand the transformative power of the arts and music. Growing up, art and music was my salvation and light. During my K-12 years in LAUSD, I was in the school choir and made All-City, wrote poetry and songs, learned to draw, strummed the guitar, and played in a band where I mimicked my rock ‘n’ roll heroes. All this gave me the heart, discipline, confidence, critical-thinking, and self-expression that have made me the person I became. It’s a way of approaching my relationships, work, politics and life — all transferable skills that I now use every day.

With my personal and professional experience as context, Los Angeles County voters will have lots to think about on the ballot next month including choosing our state and local officials. We will be presented with propositions that span climate change, abortion rights, sports betting, and other important topics including a measure, close to my heart, that would guarantee funding for music and arts education. Providing access and instruction in the arts is fundamental to shaping our personal and collective identity including how we express ourselves, work with others, and approach the world.

As a member of CNM’s board, I understand the challenges and opportunities nonprofit employees face when working to serve the interests of our communities. Neighborhood and nonprofit leaders, CNM staff, board members, and stakeholders/allies play a key role in encouraging Angelenos to learn about the issues before us and to vote for issues that matter most when we make our voices heard in November. It’s about people, communities, and justice.

Your vote on November 8th is critical.

Find all the ways to make your voice heard. Don’t remember if you’re registered to vote? Need to check what name you’re registered under or what political party you’re registered with? Check your registration status online.

About the Author

rafaelgonzalez1 Arts Access is Fundamental

Rafael Gonzalez leads Grand Performances — inspiring community, celebrating diversity, and uniting Los Angeles through free access to global performing arts. A graduate of Cal State University, Northridge with a B.A. in Chicano Studies, he received his master’s degree from the USC Price School of Public Policy. Learn more about Rafael.

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