This Spring, the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture (formerly the Los Angeles County Arts Commission) has been hard at work laying the groundwork for updating the Los Angeles County Regional Plan for Arts Education. Envisioned in 2002, the Regional Plan for Arts Education was the original framework for expanding arts instruction in schools. This blueprint established the Arts Ed Collective as the body that could align Countywide efforts to ensure that all 1.5 million public school students in the 82 LA County school districts receive robust, comprehensive arts education.
Since 2002, the arts education landscape in Los Angeles County has transformed. Upwards of 85% of K-12 schools in LA County offer some arts to some students, some of the time. The validity of the "schools don't teach the arts" argument no longer holds water. Instead of advocating solely for more arts in schools, it’s necessary to look at using the arts to teach transferrable skills that reflect the current economic and career landscape. In this vein, arts education's correlation with "arts in K-12 schools" is shifting as well. Exposure to arts education means access to arts learning, wherever LA County youth might be—in schools, in parks, in community, or in the juvenile justice system.
In recognition of this shift, in May of 2018, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors put forth a motion directing Arts and Culture and to report back with a plan for producing an updated Los Angeles County Regional Plan for Arts Education. Arts and Culture reported back with a plan to engage Los Angeles County residents and key stakeholders to provide Arts and Culture with their input on this updated plan.
To this end, the Arts Education division of Arts and Culture spearheaded this outreach initiative, and has conducted an intensive round of community outreach to solicit input and contributions from LA County residents for this new Regional Plan for Arts Education. To conduct this outreach Arts and Culture staff travelled across the County, speaking to hundreds of residents in Lancaster, Santa Clarita, Pomona, Santa Monica, and six other neighborhoods across the geographic breadth of the County in a series of community forums. Residents engaged included youth, parents, artists, and community members—as well as representatives from schools, arts organizations, local businesses, creative industries, workforce development, social services, and local government. Some initial takeaways shed light on which regions of the County have need of further resources, what types of arts education resources exist in local communities, and how LA County residents believe the arts could be used to improve the quality of their lives. Arts and Culture staff are currently working through the data. The findings will be made public in the fall of 2019 when Arts and Culture submits the updated Regional Plan for Arts Education to the LA County Board of Supervisors for consideration and adoption.