A Year Well Spent

Last week Arts for LA hosted the City of LA Team Kickoff event to begin the process of building a self-sustaining community advocacy team in the City of LA. As I get ready to depart Arts for LA to attend graduate school this fall, I couldn’t think of a better event to end my tenure. I got to see how a year spent developing a model for building arts education advocacy networks in school districts helped to pave the way for not only the LA Team Kickoff, but for the many more community advocacy efforts that will surely come to life in the years ahead.

At the end of the pilot year for the Arts Education Advocacy Initiative, I am proud to know that thousands of students will continue to receive quality, standards-based arts instruction as a direct result of the advocacy done by the teams built this year. Eleven positions were saved as a result of this advocacy effort, including 3 Arts Coordinators and 8 elementary music teachers. In addition, much outreach was done to educate community members about Arts for All and the value of quality arts education as part of the core curriculum. I am equally proud to know that the individuals who stepped up this year and helped lead these efforts are committed to continuing their advocacy and recruiting more parents and community members into this exciting work.

Reflecting back on this year, I realize just how consistent the campaign development process was in each district. Compared to my prior organizing experience, which was very structured and streamlined, the experience of launching this advocacy pilot often felt like a never-ending process of adaptations and deviations. Now that we’ve made it to the other side, I look back and see that as we’ve navigated the challenges of bringing this pilot to life, we’ve also managed to create consistent plans, all of which were built with the same structure, included many of the same strategies and tactics, and yielded similar, successful results.

This fall I will enter Columbia University to complete a Masters degree in International Education Development. A passion for equal access to quality education is what brought me to this job in the first place, and I hope that I will be able to take what I’ve learned this year with me as I attempt to broaden equal access to quality education for students across the globe.

It was a hard decision to leave Arts for LA in pursuit of a Masters degree. After all, I’ve had the privilege of spending a year making a positive impact alongside many of the most visionary and passionate people I’ve ever worked with. I am grateful for the brilliant thinking of Arts for All and Arts for LA that set me up for success by providing me with the work plan that guided my efforts this year. I hope that the organizing model I helped develop will continue to move quality arts education forward not only in LA County, but in cities and school districts across the country.

Thank you LA County arts community for the opportunity to work with you, learn from you and be inspired by you this year. It has been a great ride for me and I hope that the tools we developed together will continue to help you build and sustain arts and arts education infrastructure here in LA County.