September 14, 2021|

Learn About the Arts Ed Collective's 'Healing-Centered' work with a new Zine

As our arts-based youth development work with the Arts Ed Collective continues to evolve, the idea of "healing-centered" approaches have emerged as central to reimagining and creating an LA County where all youth—and especially youth who have been historically precluded and excluded—engage in arts all year, every year. To learn more about the emerging field of Healing Centered Engagement, especially as it relates to arts based youth development, please download our zine Healing-Centered Engagement—Reflections and Insights from the Field.

A part of Los Angeles County's New Regional Blueprint for Arts Education, this research was commissioned by the Arts Ed Collective to explore the important ways arts-based Healing Centered Engagement can support and uplift youth voices as part of healthy growth and development. This zine is a summary of six months of intensive review of academic literature and interviews with research-practitioners and youth, and serves as a guide to understanding key concepts and ideas that can advance arts-based healing practices across the region.

October 13, 2020|

Board of Supervisors Adopts New Regional Blueprint For Arts Education

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Adopts New Regional Blueprint For Arts Education

Blueprint Contains Strategies for Increasing Arts Education in School, After School, and in Communities, Including Juvenile Justice, Foster Youth, and Workforce Development Systems

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion today to adopt the Arts for All Children, Youth, and Families: Los Angeles County’s New Regional Blueprint for Arts Education, which aims to bring arts education to young people throughout LA County. The Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture (Arts and Culture) and the Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective (Arts Ed Collective) developed the Blueprint, which calls for arts learning to happen both in and outside of school, throughout communities, and in juvenile justice, foster youth, and workforce development systems.

This Blueprint is an update of the 2002 Arts for All: LA County Regional Blueprint for Arts Education, which focused exclusively on in-school arts education. The new Blueprint presents an expanded approach with strategies that reach beyond school to include arts instruction for all students, across all grade levels, in all public schools; expanded opportunities for arts education after school; year-round community-based arts learning; access to careers in the creative economy; arts-based programs and services provided in collaboration with multiple LA County departments that support children, youth, and families; and a prioritization of historically underserved populations. It is intended as both an aspirational policy statement and a roadmap for practitioners and leaders to advance youth development over the next decade.

The new Blueprint’s goals are to:

  • Develop systems and infrastructure that expand and sustain arts education for all young people, in all schools, and in all communities.
  • Build and strengthen partnerships and collaborations to create, expand, and leverage resources for arts education.
  • Increase public awareness about the importance of arts education and mobilize stakeholders to advocate for robust implementation.

The arts promote creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that prepare all students to thrive in school and in life, said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Third District. The County’s bold new Blueprint brings the arts into schools and communities so that our young people grow up being able to think critically and develop out-of-the-box solutions for the many challenges they will face.

We know that the arts and creative learning support social-emotional well-being, improved student outcomes, access to careers in the creative economy, and transferrable skills that prepare young people for any profession or industry, said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The new Blueprint fosters creativity in the children of Los Angeles County, enriching their lives now and also laying a foundation for more opportunity into adulthood.

The Blueprint is steeped in Arts and Culture research which continues to confirm that access to arts education is limited for historically underserved students in LA County. The Arts Education Profile: Report on Public Schools, 2015-17 found that students from low income communities, English learners, and students of color have less access to arts education than their white, higher income, and English-proficient peers, and that the arts instruction they are offered is of lower quality. These findings sit within a broader context of inequity: Measure for America’s A Portrait of LA County, for instance, looked at key indicators of well-being and found similar correlations between poverty, race, geography, education, and health.

Despite the many benefits of an arts education, we continue to see disparities in access and opportunity among youth of color, current or former foster youth, youth that are currently or formerly homeless, impacted by the justice system, LGBTQ+, migrants, English language learners, and youth living in poverty, in rural areas, and with disabilities, said Kristin Sakoda, Director of the Department of Arts and Culture. The new Blueprint leverages this moment of opportunity to redefine scale, equity, and quality in culturally sustaining arts education for the next generation of youth in the largest County in the nation.

The new Blueprint’s vision to increase access and equity in the arts aligns with much of the County’s bold and innovative work advancing racial and cultural equity across the region, demonstrated by its groundbreaking policies and initiatives including the:

  • Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, which ensures that all residents have equitable access to arts and culture, and to improve inclusion in the wider arts ecology.
  • Countywide Plan to Elevate the Role of the Arts in Criminal Justice Reform, which provides strategies for reimagining justice reform, prevention, and community investment through the arts including arts education and creative youth development for justice-impacted youth.
  • Countywide Cultural Policy, which affirms the value of arts, culture, and creativity; strengthen cultural equity and inclusion; and leverage arts and culture to achieve the highest potential of communities across all aspects of civic life.
  • Anti-racist Los Angeles County Policy Agenda, which will guide, govern, and increase the County’s ongoing commitment to fighting racism in all its dimensions, especially racism that systemically and systematically affects Black residents.

Nearly 20 years ago, the Board of Supervisors launched a countywide initiative to restore the arts in public education. That initiative, now known as the Arts Ed Collective, is coordinated by the LA County Department of Arts and Culture. The coalition currently includes over 150 public and private partners, including the Los Angeles County Office of Education, 74 of the 81 LA County school districts, arts organizations, grantees, philanthropy, and county agencies including departments of Mental Health, Probation, Parks and Recreation, the offices of Child Protection, Youth Diversion and Development, and more.

In 2018, the Board of Supervisors identified a need for an updated regional plan for arts education that reflects the current priorities and educational landscape of LA County. The development process for the new plan involved input from more than 600 stakeholders during the spring and summer of 2019. Arts and Culture staff travelled across the county, speaking to residents in Lancaster, Santa Clarita, Pomona, Santa Monica, and six other neighborhoods 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.

March 11, 2020|

LA County Supervisors Adopt Goals of Plan Elevating Arts as Justice Reform Strategy

(Pictured Above)"Energy" by youth artists from Challenger Memorial Youth Center (Lancaster), in collaboration with artist Joseph Montalvo of the Armory Center for the Arts. Photo by Cam Sanders, courtesy of Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network.

LA County Board of Supervisors Adopts Goals of Plan Elevating Arts as a Justice Reform Strategy

Department of Arts and Culture plan advances Board commitment to create more rehabilitative, less punitive, justice system

The goals of the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture’s Countywide Plan for Elevating the Arts as a Criminal Justice Reform Strategy were adopted yesterday by the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, furthering the transition of LA County’s justice system from a punishment-based model to one that embraces trauma-informed and healing-centered approaches. The new plan guides the development of countywide infrastructure that expands arts-based programs and services to those impacted—or at risk of becoming impacted—by the justice system. Its core components focus on prevention, community development, diversion, custodial care, and re-entry strategies. The plan directs the LA County Department of Arts and Culture (Department) and Chief Executive Office to assess resources for implementation.

Arts and culture have the power to promote positive narrative change and connect us to our humanity and the humanity of others, said Department of Arts and Culture Director Kristin Sakoda. By investing in justice-impacted youth, individuals, and communities as part of alternatives to incarceration, arts and culture can play a meaningful role in helping the County enhance our systems of care, and build safer, healthier, and more equitable communities.

Research shows us that the best outcomes for decreasing justice system involvement are achieved through individual and community development efforts, along with opportunities for job placement. These strategies also tend to be much more cost-effective than long-term custody and care, said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, lead author of the motion that directed the development of the plan. The Department of Arts and Culture has an ambitious strategy to not only help individuals re-enter society after their time in the justice system, but to prevent system involvement in the first place.

Arts-based strategies have already shown a wonderful ability to foster resiliency and positive self-images in young people, said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, co-author of the motion. As the County embraces more rehabilitative and trauma-informed practices in our juvenile system, we recognize that it’s important to incorporate innovative arts strategies. As the poet Thomas Merton wrote, 'Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.' Let the healing begin!

The arts also play a unique role in connection to community. In the criminal justice context, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals suffer additional trauma and isolation as a result of societal stigma. Engaging with arts bring forward the stories, experiences, and emotions of those affected by the justice system to be heard, felt, and embraced by the broader community.

Starting in 2014, the Department of Arts and Culture (then the LA County Arts Commission) has partnered with community-based organizations, the Los Angeles County Probation Department, and other County agencies to pilot arts-based services for incarcerated and at-risk youth. This work expanded in 2018, when the agency was awarded a one-year, $750,000 grant from the Art for Justice Fund to build support for youth involved or at risk of becoming involved with the LA County juvenile justice system.

In our cross-sector collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture, our staff has been trained in arts-based interventions, and we have been able to bring transformation and access to creative career pathways to County juvenile facilities. We are incredibly proud of the work, said Department of Probation Interim Chief Probation Officer Ray Leyva.

In December 2018, Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl advanced a motion, Investing in Justice Involved Individuals Through the Arts, which called on the Department of Arts and Culture to create a Countywide plan to elevate the arts as a criminal justice reform strategy. The Department submitted the plan in September 2019. It advances the Department’s work even further—the new plan supports not just young people, but youth, families, and adults touched by County criminal justice systems. It sets out five goals, including establishing Countywide leadership and coordination of arts-based strategies; expanding prevention strategies; strengthening and sustaining support for justice-involved youth and their families; supporting justice-involved adults; and expanding external partnerships.

June 29, 2017|

Is L.A.'s new juvenile jail really worth $48 million? Yes. Here's why

By the LA Times Editorial Board

LA Times reported that Campus Kilpatrick, a new juvenile probation camp for LA County students, will open its doors to students in August. 

At $48 million, it was a breathtakingly costly project. But with the help of state bond money, the old Kilpatrick was razed and replaced by a facility that does indeed look and feel more like — well, if not a camp, perhaps a small college campus, notwithstanding the locked gates. Living quarters resemble those in more modern private group homes, four or six beds to a unit. The staff-to-ward ratio is smaller. Probation officers, psychologists and other staff who requested assignment to the new Kilpatrick have been intensively trained in what county leaders like to call “the L.A. model” of juvenile rehabilitation. It is based in part on a Missouri program that features small groups and positive reinforcement, and that — significantly — boasts remarkably low rates of new offenses following release.


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