The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture (Arts and Culture) has announced that civic leader Randi Tahara has joined its Arts Commission, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ long-standing advisory body for the arts.
The commission seats 15 members, diverse arts community leaders chosen by the board to represent each of the five districts in the county. Tahara was appointed by Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell.
Tahara was born and raised in Supervisorial District 2 (SD2), the district she would go on to serve for three decades, including as an arts and culture policy advisor to SD2 supervisors. She was a lead liaison with 2nd District arts organizations, nonprofits, and artists during her county career, connecting constituents to arts resources and helping artists develop their voices as arts advocates, and she ultimately served as assistant chief deputy to two supervisors prior to her March 2022 retirement.
Some of Tahara’s career milestones include initiating county support to designate New Temple Missionary Baptist Church as an L.A. City Historic/Cultural Monument, developing and executing an SD2 initiative using theater performances to engage and empower SD2 residents and stakeholders, and drafting the motion (June 6, 2012) to rescind the action taken by the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 27, 1942 that supported the unconstitutional, involuntary incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
She was also serving with the county when the board voted to adopt the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, the historic board vote to create the L.A. County Department of Arts and Culture.
Tahara currently sits on the Board of Directors of: Nihon Buyo Kai of California, a nonprofit that promotes Japanese classical dancing in Los Angeles and provides low-cost, accessible quality programs; A Noise Within theater; and the Los Angeles Police Museum. She’s a member of the Theatre of NOTE and a volunteer with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Now, as an arts commissioner, she will advise a department that she helped launch — Tahara drafted the motion to transition the Los Angeles County Arts Commission into the new Arts and Culture Department. Her connection to the arts goes back to childhood. She was immersed in the Japanese art forms of classical dance and music (koto and shamisen), tea ceremony, and flower arrangement, and earned teaching (natori) status from the headmaster of the Bando (classical dance) and Kineya (shamisen) schools in Japan.
Today, she performs regularly in theater productions throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. Recent roles include a Japanese grandmother suffering from dementia (The Brickhouse Theatre), Bloody Mary in “South Pacific” (Westminster Community Playhouse), and with Rogue Artists Ensemble/East West Players’ joint production of “Kaidan Project: Alone,” an immersive, interactive experience in 2021.
“After working closely with the Arts Commission and the Department of Arts and Culture for 26 years, I am thrilled to be among these passionate and brilliant commissioners and dedicated county staff, working collectively to improve the quality of life for all Angelenos,” Tahara said. “I am humbled by Supervisor Mitchell’s confidence in me to represent her on this esteemed commission, and am grateful for this opportunity to continuing serving SD2 stakeholders and residents.”
“Randi Tahara is uniquely positioned for the Arts Commission. She has a deep reserve of knowledge and lived experience in both the operations of the County Board of Supervisors and in L.A. County’s arts and culture ecosystem,” said Mitchell. “Throughout her career, she’s been in the offices where board policy is created and resources are allocated, the stages and studios where art is created, and the nonprofit boardrooms that steer services to the people of L.A. County. She’ll bring an incredible insider’s lens to the Arts Commission and its work.”
“After collaborating with her closely during her county service and seeing her arts advocacy on behalf of L.A. County’s communities, I am excited to welcome Randi Tahara to the Arts Commission and engage with her again,” said Kristin Sakoda,director of the Department of Arts and Culture. “She is knowledgeable of many of the department’s programs and county initiatives, and her priorities align with the values and work of the Department of Arts and Culture — making arts more accessible, ensuring equitable funding and support for organizations, and strategically utilizing the arts as an agent of positive change.”
“The Arts Commission is made up of talented people with very different skillsets and resumes,” said Eric Eisenberg, president of the Arts Commission. “But they share one overriding goal — to advance arts and culture in L.A. County. It’s my job to pinpoint and channel each commissioner’s expertise toward this goal, so I’m obviously delighted to work with Randi Tahara. She knows how the county works, and has personal and professional experience with local arts and cultural organizations.”