Arts for All had its origins in a late 1990s meeting of leaders of Los Angeles County arts institutions, large and small, who sought to identify critical issues that could be addressed only by the arts community as a whole. Arts education was one of the issues identified. The Arts Commission (now the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture) convened the ad hoc Los Angeles Arts Education Task Force and commissioned a study on the state of K-12 arts education in LA County public schools. In 2001, the release of Arts in Focus: Los Angeles Countywide Arts Education Survey was the first comprehensive look at arts education in the nation’s most populous county.

Arts in Focus revealed the inequitable delivery of arts education across LA County. Strong work was taking place in a few places but significant barriers existed at the school district level. The survey found that there was no centralized body to focus on arts education and provided the baseline data needed to move forward.

Seeded by a California Arts Council grant, the Arts Commission hired arts education staff and formed the Los Angeles County Arts Education Advisory Group who developed the initiative’s goals and strategies through an 18-month planning process. Eight community forums were held to help guide the development of and broaden support for the regional effort. In 2002, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, LA County Office of Education and Arts Commission adopted Arts for All, Los Angeles County Regional Blueprint for Arts Education and the initiative was launched.

Celebrating its 16th year in 2018-19, the Arts Ed Collective is taking this moment to reflect on some of its achievements to date:

  • 65 board-approved school district policies and strategic plans for arts education
  • $3.8M granted to support arts education in schools
  • $10.8M raised by the Funders Council
  • 74 LA County school districts and four charter networks participated in the Arts Ed Profile Countywide data collection
  • 500 system-involved youth received arts instruction as part of a cross-agency endeavor to embed the arts into LA County's juvenile justice reform
  • 4,000 educators trained in connecting the arts with core subjects through the Technology Enhanced Arts Learning (TEAL) Project

The Arts Ed Collective has been nationally recognized as a model collective impact initiative. A RAND Corporation case study report (2008) cited the Arts Ed Collective (then Arts for All) as a model of innovation that leverages resources and coordinates efforts among diverse community stakeholders to restore arts education. The Arts Ed Collective has received the National Association of Counties Achievement Award (2003), the American Society for Public Administration—LA Chapter Award (2006), the National Arts Education Award from Americans for the Arts (2011), and the Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association (2015).