We had the good fortune of connecting with Brooke Ishibashi and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Brooke, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
As my Be An #ArtsHero co=founder Matthew-Lee Erlbach says often, the Arts & Culture sector (ironically) has a story problem, given the fact that we are the nation’s storytellers. When our nation’s legislators view funding of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) or National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as liberal handouts, what’s missing is the fact that these are economic agencies who specialize in creative industries (not merely “arts agencies”). What’s missing is the idea of arts work as “labor.” Instead, there is the common mythology of either the “starving artist” or the “Hollywood elite,” without regard to a labor force that is 5.1 million strong, fueling over 673,000 local businesses, contributing over $919 billion to the country’s economy (over 4.3% of the GDP).

Be An #ArtsHero is here to change the conversation and create a new narrative by claiming the title of “Arts Worker” and articulating the reality that our local jobs uplift local economies nationwide, sustaining ancillary sectors like Transportation, Hospitality, Retail, and more.

There can be no American economic recovery without a robust Arts & Culture recovery: our fates are intrinsically tied together.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I recently read somewhere “Don’t ever attach yourself to a person, a place, a company, an organization or a project. Attach yourself to a mission, a calling, a purpose only.”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as I’ve always lived my life in service to others, which has forced me to neglect the service I owe to myself.

I was very badly burned in the past when I had committed myself to a passion project that I had no legal ownership of and was then cut out of the equation after years of development and labor. I was more committed to the passion project than I was to myself and because of that, I was never willing to walk away. And because of that, I lost all agency… and it didn’t end well for me.

They say “put your mask on first” and I’m learning that a life of service requires you to look out for #1 and to be so committed to your own true north that you never lose sight of the bigger picture.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d take my bestie on a tour of Little Tokyo and support the many family-owned businesses. Little Tokyo has been around for 137 years (through the Great Depression, World War II, the economic downturn of 1990-92, and the financial crisis of 2008) and is struggling to survive during the COVID crisis. With the recent spike in anti-Asian vitriol and violence, the community needs our support now more than ever!

*good ole fashioned karaoke at Max Karaoke
*artisanal mochi from Fugetsu-Do (family owned and operated since 1903!)
*vegan sushi at Shojin
*vegan donuts at Donatsu
*boba at MILK+T
*visit to the Japanese American National Museum
*video games and cocktails at barcade EightyTwo
*snacks and goodies at Nijiya Market
*shopping at Japangeles
*happy hour at Far Bar
*ramen and comfort food at Kouraku

More info: golittletokyo.com (@golittletokyo) The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to express gratitude and reverence to my ancestors, specifically my grandparents who were all wrongfully imprisoned during WWII when our country forced nearly 120,000 people of Japanese descent into prison camps for simply “looking like the enemy.”

I often think about the opportunity I have today and how it’s inherited from the struggles they faced and I feel an immense responsibility to do them justice in the work that I do and the life that i lead.

Website: BeAnArtsHero.com

Instagram: @BeAnArtsHero

Twitter: @BeAnArtsHero

Facebook: @BeAnArtsHero

Image Credits
Violeta Meyners, Sara Krulwich/The New York Times, Peter Bohler/The Washington Post

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.