by Arts for All | Mar 19, 2013

    As Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Sr. VP of Global Corporate Social Responsibility, Janice Pober oversees the company’s engagement in arts education.  A leader in corporate philanthropy, Sony Pictures is committed to supporting the arts as a way to help foster a creative workforce in Culver City, where the studio is based, and throughout Los Angeles County.  

    Sony Pictures has helped establish and fund programs such as a dedicated visual and performing arts curriculum at Culver City High School as well as the Sony Pictures Media Arts Program with CalArts and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

    Pober is founder and co-chair of the Arts for All Pooled Fund, a roundtable of grantmakers directly supporting the implementation of Arts for All.  Each funder has brought different perspectives, skill sets and expertise to the discussion. The opportunity to regularly meet to share knowledge has been an asset to both the initiative itself and each individual funder at the table. This year, Sony and 21 other Pooled Fund members are providing over $1 M of support for in-school programs and district capacity building.

    Arts for All Development Manager, Tom McKenzie, recently talked to Pober about Sony’s commitment to arts education.

    TM:  This month Sony Chairman Michael Lynton received Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Institute’s first-ever “Order of the Golden Sphinx” award for his work supporting arts education over the course of his career. The Institute praised Sony for supplementing “the arts curriculum in California public schools,” and cited Arts for All as a notable example of this work. What works best when pursuing system-wide change?

    JP: We feel that Sony Pictures makes its most effective contributions by being at the table with community stakeholders, rolling up our sleeves, listening and learning, and then investing. It’s a model that’s been extremely successful for us through the years.

    TM: Sony Pictures began supporting arts education with a focus on Culver City Unified School District, where it continues to play a big role. What did you learn from starting out there?

    JP: Through the establishment of the Culver City High School Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, we discovered that there were greater needs within the District than what we were providing for that one project. We brought in Music Center’s Education Division to develop an arts education program at Culver City’s Farragut Elementary School. This project engaged a wide range of stakeholders beyond the walls of Sony Pictures, including the Culver City Unified School District, Farragut PTA, School Site Council, community-based organizations, artists, administrators, faculty and parents. It was through this effort that we came to fully appreciate the importance of our role as a community organizer and supporter, and we’ve been growing this model ever since.

    TM: What led you to partner with Arts for All and form the Pooled Fund?

    JP: Before getting involved in Arts for All, Sony Pictures had participated in Los Angeles Urban Funders, a pioneering example of collective impact, focused on rehabilitating communities affected by the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Those of us around the table benefitted tremendously from working collaboratively to undertake comprehensive community-building goals.

    When I was invited to join the Arts for All Executive Committee, I was convinced I could apply what we’d learned working with Los Angeles Urban Funders to Arts for All, and I started the Pooled Fund in 2004 with a $500,000 lead gift from the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The Arts for All Pooled Fund made it possible to broaden Sony’s reach to support all districts in the County. It would have been impossible for us to do this on our own.

    TM: What kind of model does Arts for All provide for the field?

    JP: Arts for All started with a foundation deeply grounded in in-depth planning, community engagement, shared vision, trust in leadership, and a thorough evaluation process. We have found that this kind of model not only strengthens the individual efforts of Sony Pictures, but it heightens the impact and broadens the capacity of initiatives seeking large-scale social change.

    The studio behind such fan favorites as Lawrence of Arabia, Funny Girl, Taxi Driver, Easy Rider, Tootsie and hundreds of other classic and future-classic films knows a thing or two about supporting a creative economy.  We are certainly grateful to the leadership of Sony for their vision and to Pober for her unwavering leadership.


    by Arts for All | Mar 19, 2013
    Arts for All, The Music Center and Arts for LA brought together a group of educators, funders and arts leaders in February to celebrate the unanimous passing of the “Arts at the Core” resolution by the LAUSD Board of Education last fall. Board Members Nury Martinez, Bennett Kayser and Steve Zimmer were at the event where they shared stories about how the arts have personally impacted their lives. 

    In his remarks, Superintendent John Deasy stressed the importance of swift strategy and implementation of this resolution.  “In three years, we want to be talking about what we’ve accomplished, not what we’re going to do,” he said.

    Although the resolution was spearheaded by Ms. Martinez, board members Kayser and Zimmer made strong commitments to shepherd it through implementation since Martinez is not seeking reelection.

    The passing of this resolution was truly a momentous occasion because it reconfirms LAUSD’s long-standing commitment to arts education. Back in 1998, the LAUSD Board of Education first voted to develop a comprehensive arts education plan. Working with a group of prominent arts and education leaders known as the Blue Ribbon Committee on Arts Education, the district developed, and the Board approved, a 10-year strategic plan for the arts.

    When Arts for All was established by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Los Angeles County Board of Education in 2002, LAUSD was the only school district in the County to have such a plan in place. Following LAUSD’s lead and with the support of Arts for All, 54 of the County’s 81 school districts developed arts policies and plans during the last decade.

    Prior to 2008, LAUSD allocated as much as $34 million annually to arts education. But like districts across the state, LAUSD had to start reducing its operating budgets as a result of the fiscal crisis. But now their bold commitment has been renewed. And that morning in February was a moment in time to celebrate this pledge.

    Here are some highlights of Arts at the Core:

    Whereas, the Common Core Standards are directly aligned with the framework for 21st Century Skills and are rooted in critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, all skills considered to be essential in every academic area, particularly for the mastery of mathematics and science;

    Whereas, Multiple research studies, including the President's Committee on The Arts and Humanities, make clear that students who participate in a rigorous, sequential, standards-based arts education develop the ability to innovate, communicate and collaborate;

    Resolved, That to assure equitable access to quality arts instruction across LAUSD and to address District goals for achievement and equity, the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District will establish Arts Education as a Core Subject.

    **Anthony Masters Photography


    by Arts for All | Mar 19, 2013

    The role of the arts within Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been generating buzz from all corners of the Country. How CCSS will be interpreted may differ from state to state and district to district. The road leading to adoption of CCSS has been an opportunity for discussion and collaboration…particularly among districts in LA County.

    “The arts deserve to be central to the Common Core conversations in schools and districts,” says (http://www.giarts.org/article/revisiting-research-champions-change)  Talia Gibas, Manager, Arts for All. “Whether this happens depends on the arts educators’ willingness to embrace their role as a piece of the broad, complex education puzzle. They will need to pay close attention to the other puzzle pieces around them, and continually adapt so that it can fit together.”

    To support Los Angeles County educators in bridging towards CCSS, and as a lead partner in the County-wide Arts for All endeavor, the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) created a professional development series in 2011 entitled Teaching Creativity with Common Core State Standards. Knowing that the full transition to Common Core will take place in the 2013-2014 academic year, LACOE and Arts for All designed the series to engage school district leaders (including assistant superintendants and principals) in a collaborative discussion about how the arts can be integrated into CCSS.

    The 2012-13 series recently came to a close with approximately 100 participants from 19 districts throughout Los Angeles County attending the sessions at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. A trio of workshops, Integrating the Arts into Common Core, STEM to STEAM Project-Based Learning, and Leading the Change to Common Core State Standards, provided educators with tools and information about how to marry the arts with the new standards.

    “These workshops were a wonderful opportunity to learn how the arts can be a foundation for teaching with CCSS,” says John Lavato, Director of Educational Services for Rosemead Unified School District. “Before my participation here, Rosemead Unified was not thinking about arts integration at all. But I brought all my principals to these sessions, and now we are looking at project-based learning for all grades in both the fall and the spring.”

    At the final session Shannon Wilkins, head of LACOE’s Educational Leadership Programs, guided educators through a hands-on experience using modeling clay to express what arts integration means to them. The finished pieces were a cornucopia of creativity. 

    “The arts and Common Core touch the soul of who we are,” says Jean Rebholz from Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District as she explains her artwork. “The hand reflects the touch and the heart symbolizes the emotional aspect of the arts.”

    All acknowledge that there is still plenty of work and preparation ahead. In his blog for Americans for the Arts, Vice President for Education at The Music Center and Arts for All Executive Committee member Mark Slavkin says, “It is tempting for providers of arts education programs to simply stamp the phrase ‘aligned with Common Core’ over our existing curricular resources. This would be a mistake and a lost opportunity. Instead, I would suggest we look for ways to join the many planning processes underway. Such collaborations can lead to a stronger place for arts and arts integration as the Common Core rolls out.”

    By providing our districts with programs like Teaching Creativity (which will be repeated next school year,) LACOE and Arts for All provide leadership with the knowledge and creative resources to make arts education an integral part of the school day.


    by Arts for All | Mar 19, 2013

    Inglewood resident MonaLisa Whitaker was fortunate to have been exposed to the arts as a child. Her mother painted, and she had art instruction in the lower grades. But it was in high school that she discovered her true passion: photography. 

    Whitaker took a class with esteemed artist and photo-educator, Larry Shapiro, who encouraged his students to see as much art as possible while they were learning. Whitaker would check out art books from the library and go to museums. Shapiro also encouraged her to apply to California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA). ** She was accepted and says that that the experience changed her life.

    “I was surrounded by other artists my age, other disciplines,” Whitaker says.  “I was completely immersed. It was heaven!”

    Fast forward to present day and that student is now the Executive Director of Inglewood Cultural Arts (ICA) and a fine art photographer. ICA works to infuse the arts into all facets of Inglewood society and, for more than a decade, Whitaker has been one of the superheroes of the local arts community.

    “The knowledge I gathered as a student opened my mind to the possibilities of how photography and other mediums can be powerful tools to make things better,” she says. 

    Whitaker sees arts education as a necessity for both students and adults. She looks at the multiple benefits that the arts can have within the community and notes that there seems to be a hunger for the arts in Inglewood. She believes the arts can teach us how similar we are, help us understand each other and enable us to realize our full potential both individually and collectively.

    She is passionate about the arts in schools and knows they are a necessary component for a balanced education. “We want our youth to grow up, be productive and do their part in improving the world. Exposing them to the arts is one way to ensure this,” says the mother of two. “The arts are not frill!”

    Inglewood Unified School District recently renewed their participation in Arts for All. Concurrently, Arts for LA, advocacy partner for Arts for All, is actively building relationships through the Inglewood community.
    “I want the arts in all aspects of Inglewood life -- in school as a fundamental part of the daily curriculum and out of school in the public realm,” says Whitaker. “I want to see art everywhere a person goes, whether it’s to school, the grocery store, the post office or the park…we should see it all the time!”

    **To find out more about CSSSA go to http://www.csssa.org.