The City of LA releases an open call for artists, architects, and other design professionals for ideas on developing a memorial for the victims of the 1871 Chinese Massacre
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Garcetti today, in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, and the Office of Councilmember Kevin de León, will release a Request for Ideas (RFI) to develop a memorial to the victims of the 1871 Chinese Massacre.
“Our Chinese and Chinese American communities — then and now — are critical threads in the fabric of our rich cultural tapestry. The 1871 massacre of innocent lives is a stain in our history that no monument can begin to erase,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This memorial will serve as a public commemoration of the lives lost and a warning against senseless violence within our own communities.”
The RFI is the product of an extensive, year-long community engagement process spurred by recommendations in the 2021 Past Due report of the Mayor’s Office Civic Memory Working Group and shaped specifically by a Steering Committee of more than 70 Chinese-American cultural, civic, and business leaders and other key stakeholders in and around Chinatown.
“The 1871 Chinese Massacre represents one of the most savage and horrific events in our city’s history,” said Councilmember Kevin De Leon. “It’s necessary that Los Angeles create a memorial to honor the lives of the victims and, for the sake of genuine reconciliation, be a city that is transparent about even the shameful parts of our history. We owe it to all Angelenos to be honest about our past – the good and the bad.”
The RFI seeks initial conceptual proposals by Oct. 12, 2022. An Evaluation Panel of arts and design experts will then meet to choose up to five shortlisted artists or teams to receive a stipend of $15,000 each to develop their concepts further and present them in a public forum. The City will then select a single artist or team to develop the completed memorial.
Respondents to the RFI can choose to propose a physical memorial at one of two primary sites along the 400 block of North Los Angeles Street, near the Chinese American Museum and close to the historical site of the massacre. The memorial will be supported by a number of secondary sites related to the history of the massacre that may be linked as a walking tour, audio tour, or by some other means. Not all of the secondary sites are locations of 1871 violence: some are instead sanctuary sites where Angelenos of many races opened their homes or property to shelter Chinese fleeing the violence.
The City is launching the process to develop the memorial with an RFI instead of a traditional Request for Proposals (RFP) or other process as a result of feedback from extensive community sessions held in 2021, in the leadup to the 150th anniversary of the massacre. The goal is to make the RFI process as open and inclusive as possible, welcoming the most creative and worthy ideas not only from large, established firms but also from individual artists and designers.
Consistent with this goal:
No fee will be charged in connection with a submission responding to the RFI.
Deliverables at each stage will be carefully defined to avoid imposing unrealistic demands on the submitting artists and teams.
A significant stipend of $15,000 will be offered to each of the shortlisted artists/teams for the purpose of compensating applicants as they refine and elevate their original concepts to a fully rendered level.
Virtual Q&A sessions and walking tours of the primary and secondary sites will be held in advance of the initial RFI deadline, to give respondents to the RFI a detailed sense of the geography and history that gives rise to the memorial.
The new memorial seeks to simultaneously raise public awareness of the 1871 Chinese massacre — in which at least 18 residents of Los Angeles, or roughly ten percent of the city’s Chinese population at the time, were murdered — and to address contemporary concerns about race, intolerance, and violence. It strives to tell the story of the little-known largest mass killing in Los Angeles history but also to convey a broader, more universal message.
Mayor Garcetti called for a prominent new memorial to the victims of the massacre in his 2021 State of the City Address on April 19, 2021. On Oct. 24, 2021, the 150th anniversary of the massacre, he joined Chinese-American and other civic leaders in a vigil at the Chinese American Museum to commemorate the lives of the victims. On that occasion Mayor Garcetti issued the first official apology on behalf of the City for the deadly violence.