by Arts for All | Jun 26, 2013

    Supervisor Don Knabe recently honored Dr. David Verdugo, retiring Superintendent of Paramount Unified School District, for his long-time service in education. At a recent meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Dr. Verdugo was publicly acknowledged with a formal presentation of a County scroll.

    Dr. Verdugo has been in education for more than 40 years.  Before coming to the Paramount Unified School District, he served at three uniquely different school districts: Spokane Public School District in the state of Washington, El Rancho Unified School District in Pico Rivera and Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.  Dr. Verdugo has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal and an assistant Superintendent working with children grades K-12 through the years.

    Under his dynamic leadership, Paramount USD established a progressive reputation, grounded in student learning and achievement. His vision recognizes and champions the arts as an important strategy for engaging students from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

    Dr. Verdugo has been steadfast in his support of the district’s arts strategic plan, developed in partnership with Arts for All in 2007. Since then, he has remained committed to ensuring that all Paramount USD students have opportunities for sequential learning in the arts that connect to the district’s other academic initiatives.

    Arts for All celebrates the accomplishments of Dr. Verdugo, and looks forward to his continued participation as an arts education advocate in this new chapter of his life.



    by Arts for All | Jun 25, 2013

    In a classroom festooned with vibrant art projects and dangling paper clouds, Emilie Halpern demonstrated how to create a tree inspired by fall colors.

    As a teaching artist from Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Halpern was spending her morning with first grade students at Hamilton Elementary School integrating the arts into the classroom teacher’s lesson on weather. Arts for All’s Residency Grant Program brought the Armory and Pasadena Unified School District together for this residency at Hamilton.

    To the students, Ms. Halpern is just a really fun art teacher. But what they didn’t know is that she is a Paris-born artist with a resume of exhibitions from Los Angeles to Texas to the French West Indies.

    Halpern grew up in family of artists. She moved to California as a young child. But she went back to Paris during the summers and was influenced by all that surrounded her.

    “I loved watching my grandfather paint and sketch, and spending time in my grandmother's studio,” says the Art Center College of Design graduate. “Her home was filled with plants and musical instruments, and she painted by these large windows that overlooked the streets of Paris.” 

    She started her undergraduate career as an art major at UCLA with a concentration on painting. But eventually her passions for photography, sculpture, video and sound surfaced. Represented by Pepin Moore Gallery in Los Angeles, she has started to delve into ceramics professionally because of students’ influence. 

    “Bags of clay are literally met with applause from the kids!” says Halpern.

    She loved the clay experience so much in her classrooms that she started to incorporate the medium into her own work.

    “That kind of joy is easily lost in the solitary world of an artist's studio. By teaching children, I'm exposed to the love of art on a daily basis. And I feel that I am changing the world one child at a time.”


    by Arts for All | Jun 25, 2013

    As the 2012-13 school year comes to a close, Arts for All takes a moment to reflect back on the work done this year with our school district partners. The collaborative environment in which we work nurtures a rich arts education for students across LA County. In the last ten months, these were some of the joint accomplishments:

    • Exposed thousands of students to the joys of music, dance, art and theater through our Residency Grant Program.
    • Worked with teachers and administrators in our Professional Development Grant Program to support their ability to provide quality arts education.
    • Coached new Arts for All districts to guide development of a local arts education strategic plan for school board adoption.
    • Provided a tool (School Arts Survey) and subsequent data analysis to allow administrators to carefully examine arts instruction currently taking place in their districts.
    • Partnered with Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) to present the popular Teaching Creativity with Common Core State Standards series for district administrators and principals.
    • Partnered with national education researchers from WestEd to respond to a need identified by our stakeholders to track, measure and document more effective student learning in the arts.
    • Expanded our Programs for Educators directory, the go-to resource for quality arts education professional development.
    • Supported the work of district Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) coordinators across the County by providing grant-writing, social media and other timely and relevant workshops.
    • Strengthened the capacity of district VAPA coordinators with grants for their own professional development opportunities.
    • Guided advocacy efforts in ten LA County communities through our longstanding partnership with Arts for LA.
    • Spearheaded a Southern California hub for teaching artists and the organizations that hire them.

    More Details Here


    by Arts for All | Jun 25, 2013

    The hit comedy TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond, made us laugh for a good part of a decade. Created by Phil Rosenthal, the show found humor in everyday family situations. Phil and his wife, Monica, are still making us smile through their support of arts education. The Rosenthal Foundation is part of Arts for All’s Pooled Fund. We chatted with Monica Rosenthal about why arts education is so important to them.

    AFA: How did you and Phil first get exposed to the arts as children? 
    Phil grew up outside of New York City and his family regularly took him to Manhattan to see shows.  (Side note: He went to see Zero Mostel as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway. ‘Tevye’ started improvising and the six-year old Phil was disappointed that Zero didn't stick to the songs as they were written.  He was destined to be a writer, I guess!)

    Phil's mother had opera playing in the house at every opportunity, and his father had been the tummler (Yiddish word for joke-teller) of the family.  Being involved in theater at Clarkstown North High School really had a profound impact on his life, leading him to pursue a life in the arts. 

    I had a similar upbringing. My mother enrolled me in "pantomime" class at five years old, which led to ballet lessons for the next ten years.  I participated in the Dance Troupe at Archbishop Prendergast High School in PA. When I was cast in my first high school play in a comedic role, I knew I wanted to pursue theatre (actually, I wanted to be Carol Burnett). A friend encouraged me to participate in a publicly-funded program called Upper Darby SummerStage. It was there that I gained the experience and developed the relationships with people that encouraged me to take my SATs and apply to college. I eventually graduated with a degree in theater from Hofstra University.  Just like Phil!
    AFA: As parents, how do you expose your children to the arts?
    Our house is filled with photographs and paintings, many made by people in our lives. In addition, our kids are lucky in that they have two parents who work in the arts.  They grew up visiting the set of Everybody Loves Raymond.  They also had the opportunity to have art in their schools, where they were exposed to drawing, painting and music. They were given opportunities to dance and act in school from a very early age. 
    AFA: Have you used the arts to teach your children life lessons?
    Our kids watched our lives become a sitcom.  That made it easy to find humor in life.  And the most beautiful part of being human is the ability to create something funny or beautiful or cathartic through the arts in any form, whether it be comedy, drama, dance, painting, sculpture...whatever floats your boat!
    AFA: Can you share a great arts ed moment about your kids that might have had a profound effect on them?
    They’ve had the opportunity to work with kids at Inner-City Arts and assist on a project at my friend, Julie Tuomi's, kindergarten class at Frank Del Olmo Elementary School.  Both of those experiences made them appreciate the opportunities for learning through the arts that they had in their education.  They have seen, first hand, kids who are quiet and insecure (many second language learners) come into their own through these experiences.  And they are aware that these experiences could very easily go away without continued arts education support.
    AFA: Why is arts education part of your philanthropic giving?
    Phil says it's all about sharing.  "This is a really good cookie.  I love this cookie.  I want you to have a bite of this cookie, too!"  It's hard for us to understand that we live in a city that was built on the arts, where people's lives are most obviously impacted by the arts, and yet, the arts were cut from the schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (even though it's been proven that children stay in school and are more successful in their studies when the arts are part of the core curriculum). 

    We believe the arts are a big part of the answer to many of the problems in Los Angeles' public schools. Personally, I would not have been the first person in my family to graduate college were it not for a publicly funded arts program.  And I have seen, first-hand, "at risk" public high school children transform their limited opportunities into bright futures as a result of participating in programs we've had the opportunity to support. 

    Every kid deserves a full functioning education, and we are committed to doing all we can to make that happen in our amazing city. Our funding of Arts for All is a reflection of this commitment.  We wanted to support a county-wide effort to follow through on the County Supervisors’ vision to make the arts a vital part of the core curriculum. 
    AFA: Do you feel that arts education is gaining momentum in the public’s eye? If so, why?
    Hopefully yes. But we have to join with like-minded folks in our industry to ensure it gets the attention it deserves. We are living in a time when the world is changing rapidly.  For the United States to be competitive going forward, we are going to need a new generation of leadership and a workforce that is creative, that has the ability to problem solve so they can see multiple perspectives and is excited about learning.  Arts education is key to all of those things.
    Every study shows the power of arts education.  Phil and I are examples of what arts education can do.  Those who work in the creative sector in Los Angeles know this more than anyone.  Even companies like Boeing are championing arts education because they know that to get the kind of engineers they will need in the future, arts education has to be vibrant and valued.
    Now we just need to get the word out to more people.