"It's not a flashy thing, but it's critical," says John Machado, a professor of art history at California's Chaffey College. That's why he founded The Arts Area, a nonprofit that aims to boost the creative economy in the Inland Empire, which includes parts of California's Riverside, San Bernardino, and East Los Angeles counties.
"What I was seeing was that a lot of these students were giving up on their dream," Machado tells the Los Angeles Times. "So many of our students are first generation college graduates and the majority are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color), but I saw a disparity in where the money was going."
Machado's 2016 research survey found that more than 5,000 current and former creative arts students in the region face major barriers to success, including a lack of business skills, network opportunities, workspace, and sustainable income opportunities.
The Arts Area's mission is to address academic, economic, and civic engagement in the arts.
The group's website offers a directory of organizations and businesses in the creative industry, as well as support for nonprofits and artists.
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The position young people are dealt with can be complex, and yet the entire economic system is still focused for an age that’s almost gone astray. The solution? Promoting social enterprise and getting these young people integrated into work.