Aaron Paley

President and Co-founder
Community Arts Resources (CARS)

Aaron Paley is President and Co-founder of Community Arts Resources (CARS) a trail-blazing company that creates ephemeral participatory events as well as long-term placemaking in diverse communities. He and his business partner, Katie Bergin, created CARS in 1989 and it has become the preeminent festival producer for Los Angeles. Since its onset, Paley and Bergin have developed their company beyond event programming and production to include cultural and urban planning, active transportation, community outreach, engagement, branding, and marketing. The company has consistently been on the cutting edge for planning and the activation of public space through content-driven programming, ephemeral interventions, and new models for design.  

As CicLAvia’s founding director until 2015, Paley provided key leadership for the development, launch and structure of this esteemed non-profit, the nation’s largest and most beloved open streets event. His work with CicLAvia and Mayor Villaraigosa’s office led directly to the creation of the Metro Open Streets program with two million dollars of annual funding for similar events throughout Los Angeles County. Paley and CARS helped launch the campaigns for “Vision Zero” with the City of Los Angeles and “Go Human” with the Southern California Association of Governments. His work helped pave the way for open streets events in other cities including San Jose California, Cape Town South Africa, Garden Grove, and Santa Monica. He continues to push for an equitable Los Angeles where sustainable active transportation options and vibrant public space are the rule and not mere after thoughts.

Paley and CARS laid the groundwork for several other key nonprofit organizations in Southern California besides CicLAvia including Grand Performances at California Plaza, Fringe Festival/Los Angeles (co-founder and founding Executive Director), and Yiddishkayt - the largest organization dedicated to this culture west of the Hudson. He also was the founding development director and the first coordinator for the National Performance Network. Paley served as a creative consultant with Disney Imagineering at three theme parks in the 1990s (Paris, Anaheim and Orlando) where his work with Disney Animation and Imagineering coalesced as the “Animation Academy” which has since become an ongoing attraction at every Disney theme park around the world. Paley has received numerous awards including the American Institute of Architects LA Chapter’s Presidential Honor, Good Samaritan Hospital’s Golden Spoke, Walk’n Rollers’ Golden Sneaker, and the Durfee Foundation’s Stanton Fellowship.

He received a B.A. in Architecture from the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley and an M.B.A. in Non-Profit Arts Management from UCLA and now has 45 years of experience in the worlds of arts, culture, transportation, and urban planning.