The Women’s Center for Creative Work was founded in 2013 by artist Katie Bachler, graphic designer Kate Johnston and producer Sarah Williams. (Katie moved to the East Coast in 2014, Kate and Sarah still serve as WCCW co-directors.) We decided to bring our community together to talk about contemporary feminism and its trajectory in a convivial setting with A Women’s Dinner in the Desert and then A Women’s Dinner in the City, two events which galvanized our community in powerful ways we hadn’t quite anticipated. The need for such events had been churning just under the surface; with those first two dinners we tapped the makings of an exuberant community of women ready to connect and collaborate, discuss and support each other. The network was already forming! We were compelled by this burgeoning community to consolidate, host more events, to give it a name, to look towards the future. The Women’s Center for Creative Work was born.
During the first year after our founding the WCCW engaged in a nomadic research and development phase called Year Long Laboratory, in preparation for settling into a permanent physical space. We participated in residencies, hosted panels, discussions, workshops & dinners in order to examine different institutional paradigms, network organizational structures, community models, and collective workspace arrangements to inform our groundwork for an organization that can be nurturing to its community as it continues to grow and change.
In the Spring of 2015 we moved into our current location on the bank of the LA River in Frogtown, which houses our offices, community workspace, and the majority of our programming. For the first two years in our brick and mortar space, we have presented programming based around a quarterly theme in conjunction with artists in residence, exploring topics such as Soft Power, Civics, and Coalition.
With May 2017 marking two years in our Elysian Valley space, we started a process of reflecting our history and our future. With two years under our belts, and a more nuanced understanding of what running a small, community-centered, nonprofit really means, we set out to re-asses our mission, focus, and purpose. We are currently entering an exciting new phase of the organization—one in which we re-envision our relationship to the local arts and social justice communities, as well our own Elysian Valley neighborhood.
With the hiring of a new Outreach & Programming Coordinator in summer 2017, we doubled down on our investment to listening and being accountable to the communities in which we live and work; on offering more opportunities and material resources to a wider audience; and on honing WCCW as a space where learning, organizing, creating, work, conversations, and collaboration towards a more equitable neighborhood, feminism, and city can happen in real life.
The collaborative process through which we aim to shape the next season of the Women’s Center begins in Fall 2017. Follow our progress here.