by Arts for All | Jan 17, 2013

    Karen Calhoun is a magnificent drummer. But she’s not in a band and she doesn’t play rock & roll. She is an expert in the practice of using a drum as a tool for communication and personal expression.

    As the district Arts Coordinator for Norwalk-LaMirada Unified School District, Calhoun has been involved with HealthRHYTHMS, a research-based drumming program that has demonstrated both biological and psycho-social benefits. She is using rhythm as a tool/intervention for increasing student achievement.

    Arts for All has been able to support those efforts by awarding Calhoun funding from the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Coordinator Professional Learning Grant Program to attend HealthRHYTHMS training, offered by drum manufacturer REMO in both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years. The program provides a limited number of small grants for Arts for All school district VAPA Coordinators/Leads to attend arts education-related professional development convenings or trainings.

    “As the VAPA Coordinator for the district, I am always looking for new and innovative ways to bring more arts education into our classrooms,” she says. “The grant has allowed me to continue my learning in this area.” And this spring, she will be attending the HealthRHYTHMS Adolescent Protocol Training. Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District was one of the five original Vanguard Districts that piloted the Arts for All strategic planning process ten years ago.

    Arts for All has been a constant supporter of keeping the arts alive in our schools” Calhoun says. “Without grants such as this one, our programs would not be thriving. I can't imagine having done all this good work without Arts for All,” she concludes.


    by Arts for All | Jan 17, 2013


    Marisol Cruz, 33 and the mother of two young boys, is the School Board President for the Lennox School District (an Arts for All district since 2009.)

    I have lived in Lennox my whole life, and I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school and attend college. I received my BA in psychology with a minor in women’s’ studies from Cal State University at Long Beach.

    After graduation, I came back to Lennox and enrolled my son in kindergarten. My father, a dedicated reader of a daily Spanish-language newspaper, showed me an article stating that our native language was being removed from our neighborhood schools. I was outraged. Lennox is an immigrant community where the majority of the population speaks both English and Spanish. How could Spanish be taken away from el barrio, my community? How was it possible to take away the language of the majority population? It was like cutting our roots and erasing our identity.

    I am currently a graduate student in Chicano Latino studies and public policy administration, and I have learned that there are systems in place that enable us to make changes.

    Lennox is a family-oriented community that lives and fights for its children. I discovered that there was a newly-formed grassroots empowered parents group called Padres Unidos de Lennox that had organized around the anti-bilingual policies that were being discussed. They were looking for a candidate to run for the school board. I had no idea what the school board was! But the issue ignited my fury and passion and I agreed to run.

    I didn’t have many art opportunities presented to me but took advantage of the few that came my way.

    In the third grade my teacher started an art club. That’s where I first saw a color wheel illustrating how the primary colors make the colors of the rainbow. When I learned that you can mix colors to make NEW colors, I was hooked and fascinated. My involvement in this club motivated me and kept me engaged.

    I also took a high school drama class where I enjoyed being on stage and using my imagination. My favorite was improvisation in front of my peers where I could get constructive critiques about my performance!

    The next generation of Lennox residents faces a new world that requires right brain skills. This means that the school district and the community need to create an art-rich environment to encourage that learning. The arts bring freedom of expression and self-awareness into the classroom, and promote critical thinking skills by tapping into the human imagination where the magic happens.

    I come from a generation that willed itself to survive with a do-or-die attitude. Many of us had to fend for ourselves in and out of school because our parents had to work from sun-up to sun-down to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. My peers are now parents and we want the best for our children.

    As a community we have suffered through many forms of violence and yet we revel in our stories of hope. We live our lives within a one-mile radius as we wait for the world to witness the beauty of who we are as people. Lennox residents are resilient and as a community we have much to offer the world.

    We are preparing our children to succeed academically in order to compete in a global economy. And that picture includes arts education. In my role as School Board President, I leverage my position to bring resources and opportunities through the Lennox Arts and Culture Committee and they work closely with the schools.

    Art is the circle that brings us together as we create a bridge between all of Lennox’s generations.

    Photo: Gary Leonard


    by Arts for All | Jan 17, 2013

    Arts for All is dedicated to bringing about large-scale arts education reform in Los Angeles schools. To fund this effort, a centralized infrastructure made up of diverse stakeholders was created to make a strong collective impact on students through an investment in arts education. Since its inception in 2004, The Pooled Fund has raised more than eight million dollars and provided direct support to school districts via Arts for All programs. It continues to grow steadily with a total of 21 corporate, foundation and government funders.

    Recent investments support the launch of two highly-impactful new programs. The Partnership Gateway Initiative targets districts with high percentages of students living in poverty and with little to no access to the arts. This program will match Arts for All-vetted arts providers with these underserved districts so that students can experience arts education in their classrooms…many for the first time.

    The Teacher Professional Development Grant Program is a three-year effort to support educators in their efforts to bring the arts (dance, music, theater, visual arts) to their students. School districts identify their professional development needs and may request up to $30,000 in matching funds to partner with providers to implement their plans.

    In addition, unrestricted Pooled Fund investments meet other priority needs for Arts for All. Current allocations are supporting expanded communications and development efforts as well as district coaching, advocacy and research.

    Photo: Gary Leonard


    by Arts for All | Jan 17, 2013

    Arts for All is not only the leader in arts education reform in Los Angeles County, but we also monitor, encourage, and applaud efforts from around the country. We are happy to share news about significant accomplishments that align with our vision and goals.

    LOS ANGELES: Right here in our own backyard, there was plenty of buzz surrounding the unanimous landmark decision by the Los Angeles Unified School Board to adopt a resolution establishing the arts as a core subject. The effort was spearheaded by board member Nury Martinez and was titled Supporting Education Equity, Student Achievement and Mastery of 21st Century Skills through Arts at the Core. It aligns with the Arts and Culture Policy Framework and makes the case for the importance of arts education strategies to address the achievement and opportunity gap. LAUSD’s Superintendent John Deasy is expected to develop a plan by July 2013 for incorporating integrated arts education across the curriculum as the District prepares to implement Common Core Standards.

    CHICAGO: City of Chicago Mayor and former ballet dancer Rahm Emanuel followed in the footsteps of Los Angeles County and officially adopted a plan for arts education. The Chicago Public School (CPS) Arts Education Plan is an off-shoot of the new city-wide cultural plan. For the first time, the number of art forms offered by CPS will be expanded to include visual art, music, dance and drama at all grade levels. In addition to a dedicated art instructor, each school will be matched with at least one arts partner from the community to support the program in numerous ways, including the identification of additional fiscal resources.

    Cellist Yo-Yo Ma was with Emanuel for the formal announcement last fall and he was quoted as saying, “You can’t have a future that you can’t imagine. That’s what the arts do… give our children a sense of collaboration, flexibility, imagination and innovation.”

    SAN DIEGO: Education, arts and philanthropic leaders launched Arts Empower San Diego, an initiative to provide a link between K-12 schools, artists, arts institutions and the philanthropic community that is similar to the Arts for All model. Partners in the collaboration include The San Diego County Office of Education, The San Diego Foundation and The California Arts Project. A catalyst for the initiative was former Arts for All Pooled fund co-chair and recently retired Boeing executive Sarah Murr. While at Boeing, she spearheaded the company’s extensive corporate support of Arts for All.

    PORTLAND: During the last election, voters passed an arts education tax. This will result in a $35 annual tax to all income-earning adults living above the federal poverty line. It is estimated to raise $12 million annually, with a portion of those funds used to hire art and music teachers in Portland’s six public elementary schools. The campaign was years in the making with strong support from Portland’s Mayor Sam Adams.

    Photo: Gary Leonard