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Lancaster Museum and Foundation will assist in 2020 Census count

Isabell Rivera OW Contributor | 8/23/2019, midnight

The Lancaster Museum and Public Art Foundation (LMPAF) recently launched its latest program, #CountMeIn, designed to increase the participation of Lancaster residents in the upcoming Census. #CountMeIn is a collaborative, community engagement project led by Artist-in-Residence, Robin Rosenthal, along with photographers, Jane Szabo and Edwin Vasquez.

Through a series of workshops, community gatherings, candid photography, and a public exhibition, the artists will work with Lancaster residents to increase the self-enumerated responses of identified Low Response Score (LRS) neighborhoods in the 2020 Census.

Every ten years, the U.S. Census counts every resident in the nation. The data collected determines the number of seats held by each state in the U.S. House of Representatives and is also used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds to communities across the nation. Historically, the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH) have had high LRS. Neighborhoods with elevated LRS typically go undercounted and thus remain underrepresented and underfunded.

For the first time in 2020, the census will be conducted primarily through online self-responses instead of hard copy mailing efforts. This change has the potential to drastically impact state and county funding even further. Many critical factors can be barriers to participation in the census, including education, race, spoken language, poverty level, homelessness, immigration status, and level of trust. #CountMeIn seeks to reach those in low reporting neighborhood block groups by building trust through hands-on workshops, artist interactions, and creative place-making projects.

The Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH) team has found that the best way to build trust between an organization and the community is to introduce artists who reflect the community in which they live and work – who look like them and speak the same language. This is especially important for areas like Lancaster; in the Antelope Valley, approximately 101,320 people are living in Hard to Survey (HTS) block groups.

The Lancaster Museum and Public Art Foundation, the Museum of Art and History, and the city of Lancaster hold the belief that organizations and community leaders must be proactive in educating, encouraging, and empowering residents to participate in the census.

CountMeIn partner organizations include the Housing Corporation of America, a non-profit organization which hosts art workshops in many of the housing developments in downtown Lancaster; Art-in-Residence, an artist collective led by Nathaniel Ancheta, Dave Martin, and Janice Ngan; and the Children’s Center of the Antelope Valley, a non-profit organization that serves children and young families in the area. Photographer Wyatt Kenneth Coleman, who worked alongside Coretta Scott King, is a consultant on the project.

CountMeIn is funded by the city of Lancaster, the Lancaster Museum and Public Art Foundation, and a generous grant from the California Arts Council.

To learn more about the #CountMeIn project, visit www.lancastermoah.org/count-me-in.

The Lancaster Museum of Art and History is dedicated to strengthening awareness, enhancing accessibility, and igniting the appreciation of art, history, and culture in the Antelope Valley through dynamic exhibitions, innovative educational programs, creative community engagement, and a vibrant collection that celebrates the richness of the region. MOAH is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with extended hours on Thursdays until 8 p.m.

For more information, visit www.lancastermoah.org.