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.

Background
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.