The Cultural Affairs Department, through the Watts Towers Arts Center, provides diverse cultural enrichment programming through tours, lectures, changing exhibits and studio workshops for both teachers and school children. Each year, thousands of people are attracted to the Towers’ site for the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival and the Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival.
The Watts Towers installation consists of seventeen major sculptures constructed of structural steel and covered with mortar, adorned with a diverse mosaic of broken glass, sea shells, generic pottery and tile, a rare piece of 19th-century, hand painted Canton ware and many pieces of 20th-century American ceramics – built without benefit of machine equipment, scaffolding, bolts, rivets, welds or drawing board designs – besides his own ingenuity, Sam used simple tools, pipe fitter pliers and a window-washer’s belt and buckle.
The Watts Towers Arts Center has served as a beacon of light for arts education and a conduit for social change. It continues to support and present master artists and to nurture aspiring young people. This arts education institution, which is the only tourist destination in Watts, continues to serve not only our local Southern California community, but the world at large, as is evidenced by our large number of international visitors. Through its exhibitions, tours, and other programs, the WTAC has been associated with and presented more than 1,000 artists in numerous disciplines including, visual arts, filmmaking, writing, music and performing arts in addition to its substantial museum and arts educational programming.
The Watts Towers Arts Center is internationally known for its association with and development of master artists. Just like Simon Rodia and in spite of the tremendous, measurable success of our world renowned, master artists, many still find themselves outside the range for inclusion in many of the existing art institutions.