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WeHo Wants To Bring Color (And Business) To All Those Empty Storefronts

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A sign for available restaurant space for lease is seen amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, is seen on May 15, 2020, on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)
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Drive around L.A.’s usually bustling commercial centers of late and you’ll see empty storefronts and “for lease” signs — evidence of the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on local businesses.

A less visible but no less significant casualty of the pandemic has been many artists’ livelihoods due to a lack of in-person audiences. Now the city of West Hollywood has come up with a plan to unite the two struggling sectors by inviting local artists to display their work in empty storefronts.

The Windows of WeHo program aims to extend a helping hand to the local artist community while also bringing light, color, and hopefully business to struggling stores, according to Rebecca Ehemann, West Hollywood’s acting arts manager:

“We’ve heard that over 95% of our artists are reporting a loss of income. And in the creative city, you know — a city full of creatives, artists, actors, performers — that number is significant, because artists are small businesses.”

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Here’s how it will work: First, the city is inviting artists to submit applications through an online form (deadline is Jan. 13). The Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission will then review and approve a list of pre-qualified artists by the end of the month. In February, the city will help local property owners work with the artists to find the right matches for their storefronts. The city expects to have eight to 10 finalists who will each receive a $1,000 reward. Installations are tentatively scheduled to begin in May or June, and will stay in place until Fall 2021.

Ehemann spoke with our newsroom's local news and culture show, Take Two, which airs on 89.3 KPCC.

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW:

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