Women’s Center for Creative Work
cultivates L.A.’s feminist creative
communities and practices.

Core Values

We offer our Core Values as guidelines for WCCW staff and anyone who engages with the WCCW community and space. They are a map of what we stand for and how we move internally and externally— connecting our intentions and actions from the smallest to the largest levels. They help us stay accountable to ourselves and to our community, remind us who and what we are working for and why, and inspire us to continue this work with integrity, generosity, and love.

If you notice anything happening at WCCW that seems out of line with our core values please let us know! We can be reached at info@wccw.us.

1. A place that affirms that art, creativity, and imagination have intellectual, personal, and political value. No art is neutral, it is either transforming or upholding the status quo.30

We embrace a radically expansive understanding of who is an artist and what is creative practice or work.

We believe that art should not be reserved for an elite few, and that culture-making is a fundamental human and societal experience. Art-making is much bigger and more important than the industries or institutions that frequently contain it.

At the same time, we see value in working to change contemporary creative industries. We do this by providing professional tools to trans and cis women, nonbinary people, and people of color, and encourage them to work professionally in these fields, or to create alternative ways of making and sharing work outside of these industries.

Whoever creates things, even for a small audience, is shaping culture. We consciously leverage our privilege as an art space in Los Angeles by operating as a platform for others. By elevating the perspectives and creative work of women and nonbinary artists, makers, and creative practitioners we are challenging dominant narratives.

Art is a form of dissent.

30No art is neutral, it is either transforming or upholding the status quo. Thanks to writer, activist, and WCCW fave adrienne maree brown for this language. Overheard at Allied Media Conference in 2018.

2. A place that cultivates a spirit of hospitality1 and care, the same as we would in our own homes.

We respect the space as we would our own home, and everyone who works here, volunteers, or visits is treated like a friend.

We care for & respect the organization (board, staff & volunteers), its capacity (our time, our energy, resources), the facility (physical space), and the community (people who are participating), and expect the same care and respect in return.

We respect and welcome those who participate in our community in accordance with our core values.

1hospitality: We extend a friendly and generous reception to everyone who engages with WCCW, and we ask all WCCW visitors & community members to extend a similar level of respect and consideration towards the space and all who work, volunteer, or host programs here.

3. Explicitly intersectional2 & working towards a feminism prioritizing women of color, queer, trans3 and nonbinary4 folx5, and other marginalized communities. We have a zero tolerance policy for transphobia6, racism7, anti-Blackness8, homophobia9, classism10, ableism11, & body shaming12.

We acknowledge and honor that Los Angeles is located on Tongva13 land and that non-indigenous Angelenos benefit from a history of settler-colonialism14 and indigenous erasure. We acknowledge the ongoing struggle of indigenous folx in the face of colonialism.

We make a dedicated effort to challenge cis-hetero-patriarchy15; white-supremacy; and exclusionary, colonial16, capitalist, and ableist systems.

We are invested in opportunities for cross-cultural exchange, celebrate difference and work to understand each other across it.  

We understand and celebrate that people come from and participate in many different feminist trajectories, we welcome all of them except exclusionary feminism (white feminism17, TERFs18).

We acknowledge our role as an art space in Los Angeles, a city that is experiencing extreme gentrification and systemic wealth inequality. We work to organize against these forces individually and organizationally, within our neighborhood, and within our arts community.

We acknowledge that capitalism is the inequitable economic system under which we currently exist, and work to improve the material conditions of ourselves and others through the development of collective and communal power and resources.
2intersectional: Initially defined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 to describe the experiences of Black women in predominantly white spaces, intersectionality is a critical framework for analyzing multiple, overlapping identities, privileges, and oppressions.

3trans: An umbrella term to include folks who identify as transgender, transsexual, and other identities where a person does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Used in contrast with cis or cisgender, which refers to someone whose self-identification aligns with their birth-assigned gender.

4nonbinary: A gender identity outside the gender binary of “woman” or “man.” Also known as “genderqueer.”

5folx: A gender neutral collective noun, generally used by people who are non-conforming in terms of gender and/or sexuality. The spelling folx instead of folks is generally thought of as inclusive to LGBTQIA+ people.

6transphobia: Dislike of, discrimination towards, or violence against transsexual or transgender people.

7racism: A systematic ideology originating during the Atlantic slave trade, and still used by those with more power to oppress, discriminate against, or inflict violence against people they define as “other” based on their race. Racism is different from “prejudice” — while anyone can be prejudiced toward anyone else regardless of their race, any prejudices people of color could have toward white people is not racism because there is no larger system in place which oppresses white people.

8anti-Blackness (or anti-Black racism): A term used to specifically describe the unique discrimination, violence and harms imposed on and impacting Black people specifically. Anti-Blackness can be and is perpetuated globally by people of all races, and Black folks may experience anti-Blackness in both predominantly white spaces and in spaces shared with non-Black people of color.

9homophobia: Negative attitudes, feelings, or aversion toward homosexuality or people who identify or are perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or transgender.

10classism: Class is relative social rank in terms of income, wealth, education, status and/or power. Classism is the systematic assignment of worth based on social class; differential treatment based on social class or perceived social class; and policies and practices set up to benefit more class-privileged people at the expense of less class-privileged people.

11ableism: Discrimination or prejudice against people who have physical, developmental, psychiatric, or emotional disabilities, illnesses, or mental differences. “Neurotypical” is a term used to describe individuals of typical developmental, intellectual, and cognitive abilities. Individuals who live with autism, are on the spectrum, or who have other developmental differences are referred to as “neurodiverse.”

12body shaming: The act or practice of humiliating or criticizing a person (or yourself) by making critical and/or mocking statements about body shape and size, or other physical attributes of yourself and/or others.

13Tongva: The Native American Tribe who are indigenous to the area where Los Angeles is now located. Gabrielino-Tongva villages were located in the Los Angeles Basin for thousands of years. As recently as 2008, more than 1,700 people identified asTongva or claimed partial ancestry.

14Settler-colonialism: Colonialism characterized by an invasive settler society that displaces and eventually replaces the indigenous population, and at the same time erases its culture and history.

15cis-hetero patriarchy: A social system under which cisgender heterosexual men hold power and women and nonbinary folx are largely excluded from it.

16colonial: A set of conditions & experiences resulting from a history of subjugation (such as colonial rule in many parts of the world or slavery & its aftermath in the US) or from the experience of living under oppressive social systems (like capitalism, white supremacy, or compulsory heterosexuality). Colonialism is perpetuated today through formal (for example: schools) and informal (for example: pop culture) education that justifies and normalizes one group having power over another.

17white feminism: Feminism that prioritizes the experiences and perspectives of cis, white, able bodied, middle class white women.

18TERFs: Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists

4. A space for active participation, a collective project where self-determined19 ownership is encouraged.

WCCW is a space with many avenues for participation and engagement, including: employment, event staffing, leading programs or workshops, volunteering, the artist-in-residence program, funding through membership and donations, and attending events. We view all of these as valid and necessary for WCCW’s continued existence.

We ask that everyone be responsible for their own participation and take care of themselves, and to ask for what they need from those who work here and each other.

We understand that conflict has the potential to be generative to our evolution, and aim to handle it directly and respectfully, with an emphasis on restorative justice20.

We appreciate proposing solutions alongside critiques in response to any oversights, gaps, absences, or blind spots. In the words of Octavia Butler, “It’s always easier to oppose than to propose.”

We are invested in the idea that through experiences shared by each participant, the larger work of building communities and reframing creative conversations unfolds.

19self-determined: The process by which a person controls, takes action, or has agency over their own life. In this context we mean we encourage and expect our community to determine their involvement and help us continue to work towards our goals.

20Restorative Justice: A practice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict and de-emphasizes punishment. Restorative responses repair harm by rebuilding broken relationships and addressing the underlying reasons for the offense. Restorative justice emphasizes individual accountability by giving decision making power to those who have been most affected by the wrongdoing, and emphasizes collective accountability by addressing the needs of the victim, the offender, and the surrounding community equally.

5. A platform for creative support and the redistribution of resources, where we consciously leverage our privilege21 as an art space in Los Angeles by creating, producing, circulating, and distributing resources to our interconnected network.

We are intently invested in creating value around the cultural production22 of trans and cis women, and nonbinary folx through supporting their exhibitions, programming, publishing, businesses, and other artistic and creative projects.

As an organization, staff, and community with varied and intersecting privileges around race, class, education, and access, we view it as our duty to consciously leverage that privilege and access to share and provide resources, especially in the form of space, information, money, tools, education, skill-shares, connections/relationships, and opportunities.

We actively engage in the creation, production, distribution, and circulation of tools to take down the white-supremacist-capitalist-cis-hetero-patriarchy, within ourselves, our community, our city, and beyond.

21leverage our privilege: Using our collective social advantages (privileges) to give access, visibility, and power to more marginalized groups and individuals.

22cultural production: The creation of all forms of art and ideas.

6. An organization that values experimentation, failure, and process.  WCCW is a thoughtful evolution; we are collectively and collaboratively working towards23. We are a process, not the product.

As individuals, a community, and an organization, we support non-linear learning and development.

We understand feminism and creative production as processes that embrace learning through experimentation, failure, and iteration.

We accept that living a feminist life and deconstructing oppressions is a life-long process, and that we are all learning together.

We challenge the notions of success and perfectionism (byproducts of capitalism and white supremacy).

23working towards: While acknowledging that perfection and ideological purity are constructions of white supremacy culture, we challenge ourselves to grow and evolve and expect that there will always be room to improve.

7. A place that cultivates a spirit of abundance, generosity & joy, with generative collaboration and radical transparency24.

We believe in the generative process of collaboration and are excited by the idea of various tendrils of feminism weaving throughout the land.

We embrace collaboration and reject competition by connecting, amplifying, promoting, sharing, and helping individuals, organizations, and projects that share our values.

We endeavor to germinate and grow collectively, through mutual support.  

We operate with a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity, being as generous as possible with money, resources, and time. There is plenty—more is more.

24radical transparency: An enthusiastic and explicit practice of sharing information about the processes, budget, priorities and history of the Women’s Center with staff, members, and the broader WCCW audience.

8. Modeling a world we wish to see by creating space for radical imagining25, visioning, and manifesting.

Through our work at WCCW, we are26 reclaiming our labour27, contesting for power28, and transforming the dominant narrative29.

25radical imagining: Through radical imagining we envision more just, more equitable futures — even beyond what seems possible today — and map out ways to create those futures.

26We were introduced to the concept of Resilience Based Organizing at our staff & board retreat with AORTA (Anti-Oppressive Resource Training Alliance) in 2018. RBO calls for organizers to reclaim our labor, contest for power, and transform the dominant narrative.

27reclaiming our labour: In response to legal and political structures designed to serve only the powerful, we use our collective labor to meet our own collective needs (for example: administering the Emergency Health Care grant or creating our own feminist HR Policies). Reclaiming our labor also means working to build new, alternative systems — the world we wish to see.

28contesting for power: If it’s the right thing to do, we exercise our right to do it.

29dominant narrative: This culture’s dominant narratives function as propaganda for the status quo. Transforming the dominant narrative means that we actively envision and articulate alternatives — alternative ways of doing things, alternative ways of relating to each other, and alternative, more just, more equitable futures.

Conceived and written by the Women’s Center for Creative Work, Sarah Williams, Kate Johnston, Nicole Kelly, Emily Walworth, Salima Allen, Hana Ward, Caitlin Abadir-Mullally and Lea Rose Sebastianis, 2018.

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