Relay: Back to School Edition




Dear Friend,

A new school year has begun. We all know arts education is central to the development of all children and to ongoing creative engagement for people of all ages. Arts for LA has a strong record of advocating for the equitable distribution of arts education for all students. 

One of our core operating principles is that to achieve a society in which government, education, businesses, and residents value, support and fully integrate the arts—in all their diversity—into the fabric of civic life, we must begin with education. To quote George Washington Carver, "Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom."

arts_education_thumb.jpgOnce again education funding is on the ballot in November. In the coming months, Arts for LA will continue our efforts to advance robust public education that includes the arts using the following strategies:

ACTIVATE Arts Education: Our arts advocacy leadership training program kicks off on September 21 with 40 community members enrolled in the Arts Education cohort. These advocates represent 15 school districts and their advocacy projects next spring can impact 789,758 students across Los Angeles County;

ACTIVATE Student Voices: Arts for LA is continuing its collaboration with the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE) to embed advocacy training within arts education programs. Last year, Arts for LA partnered with Get Lit, and this year, we will expand our work to include three partners;

Candidate Surveys: Arts for LA will survey every candidate running for school board in 3 school districts (Acton-Agua, Alhambra, and Saugus Union); 

Ballot Measures: Arts for LA endorses Prop 55 which essentially extends Prop 30, a measure which produced the Local Control Funding Formula for public education and directed millions of dollars to local school districts; 

Legislation Tracking: SB 916 which establishes state credentials for Theatre and Dance teachers has landed on Governor Brown's desk, and Arts for LA is working in coalition to get this bill and others passed. 

There is work to be done, and progress to acknowledge: The Herb Alpert Foundation recently donated $10 million to LA Community College to provide free tuition for every music major. Another partner, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, has worked with the El Rancho Unified School Board to advance a parcel tax on the November ballot to fund arts education. If the unique campaign succeeds in El Rancho, the strategy could be adopted by other school districts in LA County. 

Finally, I'm thrilled to announce our new Director of Programs will be Shelby Williams-Gonzalez. A brilliant arts administrator and practicing dancer and choreographer, Shelby has served as the Artistic Director of ArtworxLA for the past four years. Shelby's dedication and experience will help shape and fuel our work as Arts for LA strives toward its vision of every student in Greater Los Angeles receiving a well-rounded education which means learning the arts on a regular and comprehensive basis.  

My best, 

Sofia Klatzker
Executive Director

P.S. Please consider taking the time right now to join or renew your membership in Arts for LA, or consider a tax-deductible donation, to support our Arts Education advocacy this fall

On the Road with Arts for LA

During September and October, executive director Sofia Klatzker will be on the road representing Los Angeles County and the state of California at a number of important conferences.  If you're at one of these events, please introduce yourself. You can also follow her on Twitter at @SofiaKlatzker.

September 15 - 17: Sofia will be representing the state of California at the State Arts Action Network's annual convening in Grand Rapids, Michigan, presented by Americans for the Arts. The event will coincide with a meeting of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

September 22: At the Crossroads of Arts and Equity: Equity Summit II, Otis College of Art & Design, Los Angeles, CA. Presented by CREATE CA and co-hosted by Arts for LA. This one day conference will build on the work begun at Create CA’s first summit in San Jose (January of 2016). Participants will hear about the progress being made on the strategies so far and work on implementation strategies to be shared with the field. Sofia Klatzker will open the day with both a focus on equity and an overview of arts education in Los Angeles County. 

September 26 & 27: CONFLUENCE, Sacramento, CA. Sofia is planning the session on "Arts in Corrections" at the 2016 Confluence, a statewide arts conference presented by Californians for the Arts and sponsored by Arts for LA. For more information, including registration, visit here

October 3 - 5: Sofia will present at the Western States Arts Federation's (WESTAF) 16th cultural policy symposium in Denver, The Status and Future of State Arts Advocacy, focusing on her vision of the future of advocacy. Find out more here.

SAVE the DATE: November 3 for LA Convergence


The 2016 Convergence will be held on Thursday, November 3, at the Nate Holden Center for the Performing Arts. Our keynote speaker is poet and performer Mayda Del Valle (right), who has been described by the Chicago Sun Times as having “a way with words. Sometimes they seem to flutter and roll off her lips. Other times they burst forth like a comet streaking across a nighttime sky.” She is currently Program Director with the poetry-based non-profit youth organization Street Poets Inc., and is also a dancer and vocalist with the Los Angeles based Afro-Puerto Rican bomba group Cunyá.  

Additional speakers, session topics, and schedule will be announced in the coming weeks. Registration will open September 15.

Legislative Update: Ask Governor Brown to Sign SB916!

SB 916 has landed on Governor Jerry Brown's desk, so join us in asking him to sign it today!

Senate Bill 916 (Allen) would establish single-subject teaching credentials for dance and theatre. California is one of only two states that do not have a teaching credential in dance or theatre. SB 916 will enable students to receive dance and theatre instruction from teachers who have been trained to deliver standards-based learning in the classroom. The credentials will support teacher preparation by providing high-quality education for our students. At a time when California is facing a teacher shortage, the credentials will encourage prospective teachers to remain in the state to pursue their professional goals.

Take action today and support this critical bill!

National Arts in Education Week (Sept 11-17)


Next week is National Arts in Education Week (Sept 11-17)!  Designated by Congress in 2010, the celebration is designed to bring attention of this cause to elected officials and educational decision makers across the country and to support equitable access to the arts for all students.

For 2016, the campaign is centered around the impact stories of arts education. The designated hashtags for use on social media are

#BecauseOfArtsEd and #ArtsEdWeek

Americans for the Arts is eliciting and sharing stories of the impact of arts education on individual lives. Whether the individual is an artist, or has found success in their life down a different path, we want to ensure that the story is shared to inform others of the impact of arts education on all lives.

Check out the Five Ways to Partner Packet for all of the details! Find out more about the week's festivities around the country at

Sept 27: National Voter Registration Day

logo.pngArts for LA has signed up as a partner on National Voter Registration Day 2016 on Tuesday, September 27, a single day of coordinated activities aimed at registering as many eligible Americans as possible.

In 2008, 6 million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. On September 27, 2016, volunteers, celebrities, and organizations from all over the country will “hit the streets” for National Voter Registration Day. This single day of coordinated field, technology and media efforts will create pervasive awareness of voter registration opportunities–allowing us to reach tens of thousands of voters who we could not reach otherwise.

 To find out how you can participate, visit here

Raise $5,000 by October 1 to fuel our Arts Education Advocacy

Arts for LA works throughout the year for the equitable distribution of arts education. Despite recent gains as post-recession funding has restored arts education in some school districts, access to arts education is no longer enough. It's not enough that a school of 500 students has one credentialed arts teacher, or an afternoon school program serves a fraction of the students. Every student must receive arts education that includes all of the arts, not just music or just dance or just creative writing (hiding in Language Arts). 

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Invest in our arts education advocacy by joining or renewing as a Contributing Member. Or make a tax-deductible donation to this work. Or consider a stock gift or trading in your car (contact us at [email protected])! Arts for LA has joined AMAZON Smile - whenever you shop on Amazon, designate Arts for LA as your Smile charity and we'll receive 0.5% of sales price!

Every contribution fuels Arts for LA's arts education advocacy this year!

ArtsVote: Update Your Voting District Address

Elected officials respond to those who live and vote in their districts, so we want to ensure our advocacy is accurate and impactful. In anticipation of our ArtsVote work this fall, we're planning to update our database so we can send you targeted Action Alerts specific to your voting district.

You can update your information here:


Shelby Williams-Gonzalez joins Arts for LA

Arts for LA welcomes Shelby Williams-Gonzalez (right) as its new Director of Programs beginning September 12. Shelby brings 16 years of experience in the arts and arts education field to Arts for LA. Shelby has taught dance and performing arts for Los Angeles Unified School District and the California Dance Institute, worked as the Assistant Stage Director for LA Opera’s Education Program and most recently served as the Artistic Director for artworxLA. She continues her artistic career as dancer and choreographer for Viver Brasil – a dance and music company dedicated to bringing the rich cultural experience of Bahia to the stage. Shelby is a 2013 Fellow of Leadership L.A. – a program of the Southern California Leadership Network and a 2016 Fellow for the Courage to Lead Program sponsored by the Durfee Foundation. She holds a B.A. in Dance and Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.