Virtual reality, graffiti, and other ideas to expand arts instruction


California law requires schools to offer arts instruction from first to 12th grade. But, in practice, not all students are getting equitable access to arts education.

So the Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective is trying a new approach: forming an Arts Ed Innovation Lab, and working with stakeholders to create prototypes – small but scalable projects that creatively increase access to arts education for more, and ideally all, students. 

​"We launched the Arts Education Innovation Lab with this idea of really rethinking, 'What is it going to take to really get us to scale in arts education so that arts education doesn't continue to just be for some kids in some classrooms in some schools in some parts of the county," Los Angeles County Arts Commission director of arts education Denise Grande told the group of over 40 gathered for the Innovation Lab's Boot Camp. 

The over 15 prototypes supported by the Arts Ed Innovation Lab center on five main "pillars":

  1. The Arts are Essential
  2. The Arts are Core in Public Education
  3. Providing a Conduit for Advancing Teaching & Learning
  4. Expanding Education Boundaries to Increase Self-Initiated Arts Learning
  5. Creative, Collaborative Communities

One prototype aims to create a mobile graffiti yard for budding street artists. 

Another, called "El VAPA Access," would focus on middle school students by "redefining the designated EL class" – or English learners – "to be VAPA-driven" – meaning, motivated by the visual and performing arts.

"We take the VAPA teacher at the middle school and have them provide the designated EL class," Orange County Department of Education VAPA coordinator Steve Venz explained to the group. 

Some of the prototypes even include ideas from outside of the arts and education worlds. For example, "Virtual Reality Arts Ed to Experience Self as Artist" aims to use VR technology to bring students places where they couldn't go physically, like "performing onstage with the ancient Greeks" or "painting in Picasso’s studio."

"Arts Playground" would provide creative spaces and supplies in places like public parks, borrowing from the model of public swimming pools. 

Kaz Matamura came to prototype boot camp with her program, called "Speak Up Now!" She wants to teach students public speaking skills, and sometimes she uses theater games to do it. She says she went to boot camp because she wanted to find people who could help her bring her program to more students, and to learn from their expertise. 

"To me, it's like being in a creative candy store," she explained. "So, I'm just taking a lot of recipes."


National Arts and Humanities Month

October is National Arts & Humanities Month (NAHM) - a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America. NAHM was launched by Americans for the Arts 30 years ago as National Arts Week in honor of the twentieth anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1993, it was reestablished by Americans for the Arts and national partners as a month-long celebration, with goals of:

FOCUSING on the arts at local, state, and national levels;

ENCOURAGING individuals and organizations to participate in the arts;

ALLOWING governments and businesses to show their support of the arts; and

RAISING public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives.

Find out more and access resources here.


Arts and Sciences Cities of Distinction Awarded to the DCA!

The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) will receive the Arts & Sciences Cities of Distinction Award from the Phi Beta Kappa Society in recognition of the quality, depth, range, and vibrancy of its community engagement with the arts and sciences. 

"Los Angeles is the creative capital of the world, so culture isn't an afterthought for us - it's part of who we are, and it's essential to the health and happiness of our people," said Mayor Eric Garcetti. "Art has the extraordinary power to transform perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors, especially when it lives in places that are accessible to everyone."

As the nation's most prestigious academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa is best known for inducting outstanding undergraduate students across the nation. It launched the Arts & Sciences Cities of Distinction Award in 2016 to spotlight cities or metropolitan regions for their exceptional artistic vitality, cultural vibrancy, and scientific engagement. Previous recipients of this award include the cities of Chicago, Portland, Oregon, and Atlanta.


Youth Arts Leadership Workshop Saturday, October 14th

Arts for LA is hosting its first ever Youth Arts Leadership Workshop on Saturday, October 14th (10am - 4pm) at The Broad Stage Administrative Offices. This program is designed for young leaders interested in advocating for the arts in their schools and communities. 

The Youth Arts Leadership Workshop offers young leaders between the ages of 12-18 years old the opportunity to enhance their advocacy skills through youth-led workshops focusing on Personal Leadership, Advocacy 101 & Best Practices, Marketing Strategies and Student Engagement.

If you know of any youth leaders who may be interested in this workshop, please make sure to RSVP today due to limited availability of space. Travel stipends (for youth participants who are interested in attending the workshop) are available upon request by calling (213) 225-7526 or emailing


We Need You - ArtsVote 2017

#ArtVote Update

With the LA County elections a mere month away, Arts for LA is currently conducting our Arts & Culture Candidate Surveys, which promote dialogue around issues related to arts education and cultural policy with candidates and residents.

If you live in any of the school districts or cities below, we need your help contacting candidates to encourage them to submit their survey responses. We provide a script and a list of candidates and their contact information. Phone calls can be made from home or the Arts for LA offices, depending upon availability. If you're available, please contact Program Manager Abril Iniguez-Rivas at or call (213) 225-7580 as soon as possible. Volunteer callers are needed from Monday, October 10 - Friday, October 20. 

For the November 7 ballot, Arts for LA is surveying 85 candidates in the following elections:

School Board Elections:

  • ABC Unified School District (Trustee Areas 3 and 6)
  • Compton Unified School District
  • El Monte Union High School District
  • Hughes Elizabeth Lake Union School District
  • La Canada Unified School District
  • Rosemead School District
  • Whittier City School District
  • Whittier Union High School District

Municipal Elections:

  • Hermosa Beach
  • La Habra Heights
  • Rancho Palos Verdes
  • San Marino
  • South El Monte

Registration is now Open for LA Convergence

On November 2, 2017, the LA Convergence will bring together leaders, organizations, community members and artists at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Downtown Los Angeles. The theme for the 2017 LA Convergence is Expanding our R.E.A.C.H. In a year during which many communities are experiencing unprecedented challenges and discrimination, how do we expand our efforts to ignite grassroots and large scale change in our communities? Melina Abdullah, PHD will be the keynote speaker, sharing her vast expertise, perspective and solution based ideas to the forum.

As a catalyst for cross-sector conversations and collaboration, the 2017 LA Convergence will build upon the R.E.A.C.H. an acronym (Revitalize, Educate, Activate, Connect and Heal) in order to spark solution-based conversations focused on the expansion beyond ourselves in order to advocate for collaborative change within our communities.

Registration is now open! 

If you would like to volunteer with us for LA Convergence, please complete the Volunteer Registration Form here: or contact Abril Iñiguez-Rivas at

If you have questions about ticketing, please contact Karen Louis at


Navigating the Political Landscape

Navigating the Political Landscape

Webinar 3 for Data-driven Arts Advocacy

Navigating the Political Landscape features Arts for LA's Executive Director Sofia Klatzker, facilitating a conversation with California State Senator Ben Allen.

You can find a link to the Webinar HERE.


2017-18 Budget Report

2017-18 Budget Summary for Los Angeles County and CA Arts Funding

To keep you informed, Arts for LA continues to monitor cultural budgets at the local, county, and state, and can report the following.

Increased FY 2017/18 Budget for City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs

For fiscal year 2017/18, DCA reports its adopted budget increased 5.9% to $13.1 million. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti says, "Los Angeles is the creative capital of the world, so art isn't an afterthought for us — it's part of who we are, and it's essential to the health and happiness of our people. Art has extraordinary power to transform perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors, especially when it lives in places that are accessible to everyone. We're proud to invest in the artistic genius that thrives in our city, because it gives Angelenos more opportunities to exercise their imaginations and inspire one other."

"Since taking office nearly four years ago, I have collaborated with my colleagues to return the arts to public spaces. Recently, the LA City Council revived murals and re-instituted the Arts Development fee — a clear focus on the importance of arts in our communities. As Chair of the Arts, Parks, and Los Angeles River Committee, I will continue to identify opportunities for greater public access to these experiences in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.

“This funding increase will allow DCA to enhance its existing programming," said DCA General Manager Danielle Brazell. "With this continued investment, the city is demonstrating its dedication to delivering artistic and cultural experiences to all our communities.”

Stable Funding for LA County Arts Commission Grants Program and New Funding for Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative

The Organization Grant Program (OGP) of the LA County Arts Commission has received level funding for 2017-18 at $4,518,000. Over 400 nonprofit arts organizations receive OGP funding.

In addition, on Monday, June 26, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved funding for the following five CEII recommendations:

  • Development of a Los Angeles County Cultural Policy ($50,000 one-time);
  • Requirement for cultural organizations that contract with the County to include statements, policies or plans for cultural equity ($50,000 ongoing);
  • Expansion of college arts pathways through paid arts internships for community college students ($448,000 ongoing);
  • Development of teen arts pathways to create access to work-based learning opportunities for teens ($230,000 ongoing);
  • Placement of artists to work cross-sector to address social problems ($235,000 ongoing).

“This FY 2017-2018 budget prioritizes the Arts Commission and County arts programming. I’m glad we are able to showcase our arts potential and highlight our artistic jewels within the County,” states Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.

Governor & Legislature Make $6.8 Million Increase Permanent for California Arts Council

On June 27, Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget that includes a $6.8 million permanent increased funding allocation for the California Arts Council (CAC). The budget also includes an additional $750,000 ongoing allocation to directly support increased arts programming for youth engaged in California's juvenile justice system, as well as an additional $2 million increased allocation for California's Arts in Corrections program.

The overall California Arts Council budget also includes approximately $1.1 million in annual federal support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and approximately $2.5 million in annual funds from sales and renewals of California's Arts License Plate and voluntary state tax return contributions to the Keep Arts in Schools Fund. With all sources combined, the Arts Council's total 2017-18 budget will be approximately $19.48 million, plus an additional, separate $8 million state allocation for Arts in Corrections.

"We are grateful to Governor Brown and our state legislators for their belief in the power of the arts to enrich our lives and foster safe, healthy, and vibrant California communities," said Donn K. Harris, California Arts Council Chair. "The state's increased investment in culture and creative expression has helped to grow arts programs benefitting Californians at all levels of society, and demonstrates clearly who we are and what we value as a state. 


Save the NEA

We woke on March 16 to the confirmation that President Trump’s budget proposal calls for the elimination of a number of programs and agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts.

While disappointing, this is not a surprise, and many of our advocacy friends are prepared with actions we can take starting today. 

Also, now that we know we are fighting to save and protect the endowments, it is important to remember that today is the beginning of a much longer appropriations process, and Arts for LA is committed to keeping you informed with updates and actions to take as they happen.

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What You Can Do Right Now

We woke this morning to the confirmation that President Trump’s budget proposal calls for the elimination of a number of programs and agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts.

While disappointing, this is not a surprise, and many of our advocacy friends are prepared with actions we can take starting today. 

Also, now that we know we are fighting to save and protect the endowments, it is important to remember that today is the beginning of a much longer appropriations process, and Arts for LA is committed to keeping you informed with updates and actions to take as they happen.

Actions You Can Take Today

Americans for the Arts is leading the national response to #SaveTheNEA, starting with a customizable letter to your representatives.

1) Go to Americans for the Arts's Action Center and send a customizable message to your elected representatives in Congress and urge them to oppose the Administration's attempt to eliminate funding to the NEA.

2) CA Delegates are hand delivering a letter of support with signatures from our state advocates on Tuesday, March 21. We have 270 signatures so far. If you have not already signed, please consider adding your name today.

3) If you lead an arts organization, join Ovation’s #StandfortheArts, a national campaign to raise awareness, protect access and encourage action on behalf of the arts and culture.

4) This is a national movement, so with every action you take, please share on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Include any of the following hashtags: #ArtsVote, #SaveTheNEA, #StandfortheArts and tag your elected officials.

Finally, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies provides this reminder about fiscal years: "Recall that state Partnership Agreement funds from the NEA are typically committed in March and used in the following state fiscal year. So today's proposal to eliminate the NEA in federal FY2018 would affect most states' FY2019 activities."

As always, do not hesitate to contact us at if you have any questions.

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