Arts Education Advocacy Initiative Expanding to 7 new Communities




Abe Flores blogs on his strategy for increasing support and access to Arts Education through Arts for LA's Team Initiative.






This year I am excited to announce that I will be working to help increase access and support for arts education in the following communities: Boyle Heights, Watts, Long Beach, Wiseburn, Lennox, Lawndale and Pomona. We are expanding our network and our strategy to include more partners across issues areas, focus on parent involvement and objectively document current access to arts education opportunities in each of the communities. In Spring 2012 we will have our first community conversation;  to RSVP, please follow the appropriate commmunity link above.

Each community is very different, facing unique challenges, populations and leadership. Any effort requires a tailored approach that reflects the community.  Therefore, it is essential that it is developed by and for the community.  My first step in all these communities is to understand the context by meeting the experts ('locals' living and working in the community).  Next, I'll facilitate multiple conversations with the community members to develop objectives that further arts education access & support in that community.

All of the communities I am working in have incredible leaders and arts advocates already doing great work. Arts for LA is uniquely positioned to assist in connecting the dots across the county, convening multiple stakeholders and coordinating advocacy efforts.

The arts education advocacy team initiative is informed by three focus areas: an expanded choir, community-formulated solutions and a sense of urgency.

  • Expanding the choir means forming new alliances and reaching out to groups and individuals who don’t currently equate arts education with social justice, 21st-century skills, equitable education and drop-out prevention. There are several great community-based organizations (CBOs) working to increase the quality of public education and leveling the playing field for disadvantaged communities. The arts are a natural ally in those efforts and can be part of any coalition that is coordinating efforts that address community wide issues.  I am reaching out to all CBOs active in team areas and joining existing coalitions when appropriate. Regarding public school issues, parents need to lead any efforts focused on improving the quality of education, and should be given the information (translated when needed), the skills and the means for them to express and achieve their vision of a quality education for their children. Arts for LA is creating documents in Spanish and reaching out to the PTA and other parent groups to discover ways we can aide each other's mission.
  • Viable solutions reflect a community’s needs, interests and assets - meaning that the community must develop its own solutions, have an objective understanding of the issues and how they can realistically be addressed. Starting in Spring 2012, Arts for LA will convene a community conversation followed by an advocacy capacity-building workshop series in each community in order to develop the network and appropriate objectives.
  • Creating a sense of urgency requires framing the issue to reflect the reality that a student not receiving a complete curriculum that includes the arts is getting an inferior education-- and that student only gets one shot at elementary school. Waiting for a better economic climate or for No Child Left Behind to be reauthorized is a luxury our students and families cannot afford. There are painful realities to why quality education is not equitably accessible (funding, Program Improvement status, overwhelmed principals and administrators, etc.) but there are numerous examples of school districts and schools meeting the challenge and bringing in programs (during school and after-school) through collaboration, creativity and strong leadership. Arts for LA will be communicating best practices and presenting data that documents a community's arts education status and assets.

I am very excited to be working in these great communities and am grateful to everyone I have already met.  We all have the same goal: A healthy and prosperous community.  We sometimes just have different focus areas.

If you are affilated with a CBO working in one of the communities listed above and/or have knowledge of a community arts program active in those areas, please contact me at info(at)

Also, please let me know what you think in the comment section below.