Inner-City Arts


Inner-City Arts' mission is to engage young people in the creative process in order to shape a society of creative, confident and collaborative individuals. We provide arts classes and workshops for school-aged children, classroom teachers and school administrators.

When budget cuts eliminated arts instruction from Los Angeles public schools in the late 1970s, it was up to local communities to fill the gap. Skid Row area schools and students, already struggling, were at a clear disadvantage—until artist and educator Bob Bates was inspired by a vision to "create an art space for kids" to serve this population. He and Irwin Jaeger, a businessman, teamed up to form Inner-City Arts in 1989. Knowing the benefits of the arts in the lives of all children, Bob and Irv were determined to bring the benefits of a safe, creative environment to children in downtown neighborhoods, who would otherwise miss out.

A groundbreaking—and enduring—partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District brought students from 9th Street Elementary School to Inner-City Arts' first studio space on Olympic Boulevard. In its inaugural year, Inner-City Arts served a total of 60 elementary school students. With evidence mounting that Inner-City Arts' unique approach to arts education supported student gains in literacy and overall achievement, principals and teachers from other schools soon signed on. Inner-City Arts forged collaborations with other educators and the academic community to develop new programs targeting specific student needs. Programs were created to support classroom teachers, bringing the lessons of the studio to other academic disciplines. To date, Inner-City Arts has served over 200,000 students and 10,000 teachers in the Los Angeles area

Professional Development:

Inner-City Arts’ Professional Development Institute serves 1,400 classroom teachers, teaching artists, administrators and community members annually.

For pre-service teachers: University Partnerships Supporting Teachers in the Arts (Upstarts) provides an opportunity for graduate education students to develop a foundation for bringing the arts into the classroom. In partnership with the UCLA Teacher Education Program, Mount Saint Mary’s College and Cal State Dominguez Hills, Upstarts has provided opportunities for over 1,000 new teachers.

For schools: Arts in the Classroom offers full-staff development for schools, providing an introduction to arts engagement, integration strategies, restorative practices and trauma-informed pedagogy.

For individual teachers, teaching artists and members of the public: In Creativity in the Classroom, Creativity Practicum and STEAM Connections, participants explore their own creativity through a variety of media, and then build bridges between the arts and other disciplines to foster literacy, inquiry, critical thinking and community in their students. LAUSD Salary Points and University Extension Units are available for these programs.

For administrators: Education, Arts and Social Emotional Learning (EASEL) is a program designed for principals and administrators who want to bridge arts instruction with other content areas through a lens of social-emotional learning and brain-based research.

For the public: The Visiting Scholars and Artists Series and Intersections include both hands-on and lecture style gatherings that explore theory, research and practice in arts education and related fields.

For information about Inner-City Arts Professional Development programs, please contact: Valerie Miller, Professional Development Manager, 213-627-9621