Expanding Our R.E.A.C.H.

on February 21, 2018 Comments Off on Expanding Our R.E.A.C.H.

by Ratri Lertluksamipun, Associate Director of Events & Corporate Giving

As a member of Arts for LA, P.S. ARTS attended the LA Convergence conference, held at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Arts for LA is a voice for the arts in Greater Los Angeles that informs, engages, and mobilizes individuals and organizations to advocate for access to the arts across all communities—arts education for every student, robust investment in the arts, and the inclusion of diverse and underrepresented voices. What’s more, is they invest in leadership development, growing networks of civically engaged advocates, building deep relationships with elected officials, and working to make Los Angeles a vibrant, prosperous, creative, and healthy society.

Plenary speaker Melina Abdullah, Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, welcomed hundreds of artists, community leaders, provocateurs, policymakers, and art lovers to the event. Her provocative speech focused on the intersection of art and social justice and punctuated their collective power to effect change. She challenged all of us, through the power of our respective organizations, to work toward advancing justice. Charged by Melina’s words and the conference’s theme Expanding our R.E.A.C.H. attendees headed to their break out sessions to unveil thoughts and discuss ideas.

R.E.A.C.H: Revitalize. Educate. Activate. Connect. Heal.


A message that continued to echo between sessions was the importance of identity, respect, and mindfulness across individuals, families, and entire communities, particularly on the inclusion of underrepresented voices. This message particularly resonated with me since all P.S. ARTS programs are designed to be inclusive and promote global-mindedness and thoughtful consideration of identity and other social topics. A good example of this is P.S. ARTS’ Inside Out Community Arts program (IOCA), which lifts the voices of its students. Each semester, our IOCA middle schoolers create plays based on themes that are inspired by important issues in their lives and communities. Past themes include racism, gang violence, alcohol abuse, bullying, suicide, teen pregnancy, the environment, and immigration.


We heard from the incredibly eloquent Fabian Debora, Artist and Director at Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network, and Eric Ibarra, Founder of Las Foto Project, among other panelists, highlighting the incredible effort and work that is being done to proactively invest in our most underserved youth. They described their philosophy and efforts on building career pathways and workforce development for the young people they serve. P.S. ARTS programs work to embrace this philosophy as well by placing success in school and life at the core of our model. In fact, an external evaluation led by renown arts education researcher Dr. James Catterall found that our programs foster attributes critical to personal, social, and professional success, including the ability to:

  1. Generate original ideas
  2. Solve problems creatively
  3. Collaborate with others
  4. Consider others’ feelings and ideas
  5. Take initiative to produce ideas, designs, and products that are novel and valuable


The well-orchestrated sessions delivered core takeaways: changing our mindset, our tools, strategies, and structures to progress towards a cultural democracy. Collectively, we are working towards getting better health indicators for communities, strategizing on ways to reduce homelessness, and building better systems to increase access to high-quality arts education for all students. This session offered tangible strategies for civic engagement and empowering leaders.


Panelists, presenters, moderators, and attendees were diverse in age–the youngest was 17–as well as in personal and professional experience. From arts education to organizations that help fight food insecurities, we are like-minded in that we value our hard-working and selfless organizations doing good for LA. This session encouraged participants to share their work, connect, be challenged, and inspire one another.


Here, participants tackled one of four health-related topics–food justice, mental health, environmental justice, and social justice–and had an open dialogue about how these topics connect and affect the overall health of our communities. At P.S. ARTS, we believe in the power of arts and culture to transform lives. As members of Arts for LA, our work and values intersect. And, the work and values of the people we serve intersect. By deepening our understanding of what makes a healthy community, collaborating and sharing ideas, we progress and transform not only P.S. ARTS’ mission but an entire population of intersected identities.

“May we all take a moment of great intention to recognize the opportunities and actions we can take to invest in the world we seek to build through the arts and each other.”
-Sofia Klatzker, Arts for LA Executive Director

P.S. ARTS employees pride ourselves on being lifelong learners. Arts for LA has built a network of remarkable people, leaders, and passionate advocates. Attending these conferences has and continues to expand our horizons. We were honored for the opportunity to attend this year and look forward to participating in thought-provoking lessons at next year’s LA Convergence. For more information about the sessions, click here. See more photos from the event on the Arts For LA Facebook.

Photographed by the Future Collective

Posted by Arts for LA on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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P.S. ARTSExpanding Our R.E.A.C.H.

P.S. ARTS CEO Responds to Senator Ben Allen’s SB916 — the Theatre & Dance Act (TADA!)

on January 27, 2016 Comments Off on P.S. ARTS CEO Responds to Senator Ben Allen’s SB916 — the Theatre & Dance Act (TADA!)


Venice, CA (January 27, 2016) – This morning, Senator Ben Allen, Chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts, introduced Senate Bill 916 — the Theatre and Dance Act (TADA!) — to establish single-subject teaching credentials for Dance and Theatre in California.

In response to the the introduction of SB916, P.S. ARTS CEO Dr. Kristen Paglia released the following statement:

“I applaud the efforts of Senator Ben Allen, the Joint Committee on the Arts, and the arts advocates that have brought forth this much needed addition to California’s teacher credentialing system. Having studied Dance and Dance Education at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to take this knowledge into the public school setting through the traditional credential pathway. In fact, the deficit of attention to the arts in California’s teacher training program is what deterred me and many of my colleagues from pursuing a credential, though nearly all of us went on to teach and hold leadership positions in independent schools and higher education. Organizations like P.S. ARTS and Inner-City Arts can make important contributions to the development of the Dance and Theatre credential programs and serve as powerful allies in providing pre-service training and ongoing professional development for arts teachers in California. I would be honored for the opportunity to lend the teacher training models and curriculum frameworks that P.S. ARTS has developed over 25 years of implementing dynamic, high-impact arts programs to the Dance and Theatre credentialing effort. Senator Ben Allen said it himself, “we’re giving Dance and Theatre a place at the credentialing table.” I don’t think I’d be overstepping to say that the community of arts education providers is happy for the endorsement of the arts in public education, and we’re at the ready to lend a hand.”


For media inquiries, please contact Communications Associate Jacob Campbell at jacob.campbell@psarts.org

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P.S. ARTSP.S. ARTS CEO Responds to Senator Ben Allen’s SB916 — the Theatre & Dance Act (TADA!)

P.S. ARTS CEO Dr. Kristen Paglia Optimistic About Passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

on December 11, 2015 Comments Off on P.S. ARTS CEO Dr. Kristen Paglia Optimistic About Passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)


Venice, CA (December 11, 2015) — Yesterday, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which will replace No Child Left Behind and includes some promising possibilities for the expansion of arts-based learning in public school classrooms.

In response to the passage of ESSA, P.S. ARTS CEO Dr. Kristen Paglia released the following statement:

“We are optimistic about what the Every Student Succeeds Act will mean for the 25,000 children P.S. ARTS serves each week and for children in public schools across the country. By giving the states more control over assessing and meeting students’ needs and emphasizing the importance of the arts in a ‘well-rounded’ education, this law will help California set a new bar for quality in public education that includes developing students’ ability to be creative and collaborative. Community arts providers, like P.S. ARTS, have made significant inroads in designing scalable arts programs that promote skills and character traits vital to success in the 21st century. We are excited and at the ready to support our public school partners in building strong schools.”

For media inquiries, please contact Communications Associate Jacob Campbell at jacob.campbell@psarts.org

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P.S. ARTSP.S. ARTS CEO Dr. Kristen Paglia Optimistic About Passage of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

CREATE CA Convening January, 2015: Fostering a Renaissance in Arts Education for California Schools

on February 26, 2015 Comments Off on CREATE CA Convening January, 2015: Fostering a Renaissance in Arts Education for California Schools

By Dr. Kristen Paglia, Chief Executive Officer

Last month I had the pleasure of attending Destination: Creative Schools – From Blueprint to Action, hosted by CREATE CA at the Oakland School for the Arts. CREATE [Core Reforms Engaging the Arts to Education] CA is led by five leadership organizations, including: The California Alliance for Arts Education, CCSESA, California Department of Education, the California Arts Council, and the California State PTA. Five appointed individuals from the field also work to further the CREATE CA agenda to create “an educational environment for all California students that features arts education as a central part of the solution to the crisis in our schools,” a goal we obviously share at P.S. ARTS.

This gathering celebrated the debut of the CREATE CA publication, “A Blueprint for Creative Schools:  A Report to State Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson” (2015). I was honored to contribute to this document alongside 100 other professionals in the field, and I have to say that it was pretty exciting to see two years of intense discussion and hard work finally in print. Even better, though, was the call to action made by CREATE CA’s five organizational leaders… From Blueprint to Action! Admittedly, patience is not a virtue most people associate with me, and so I was pleased and relieved when it became clear that this convening was not going to be yet another strategy conversation or “visioning” session (not knocking visioning at all, just making a point that, in arts education, visioning is sometimes as far as we get).

Since its founding by Arts Education activist and recipient of the Americans for the Arts 2014 Arts Education Award, Malissa Shriver, the CREATE CA coalition has been about action. Even the term “blueprint” versus the much more commonly heard in arts education “plan,” indicate that this work is about building a foundation and moving toward a destination. This convening of leaders in the field reflected a restless tone – people who are on the ground and seeing the state of some of California’s failing schools and who know that the arts are key to overall school improvement. It isn’t good enough to meet Federal benchmarks stipulating a level of proficiency students cannot fall below. We can do better.

The underlying value of the CREATE CA coalition is that California should “ensure each student reaches his or her full potential by broadening California’s educational vision, policy, and practices to promote innovation, economic development, and creativity.” Full potential!  This is one of the core values and curriculum directives at P.S. ARTS. Every child – regardless of socioeconomic, language, cognitive-developmental, or any other barrier to learning – deserves a targeted education that supports his or her ability to succeed in school and beyond. I teach an entire course in the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture based on this specific standard for excellence in education.  That is, the arts are a flexible and effective tool for differentiating teaching practice, measuring progress accurately, and engaging students in school so that every child’s needs are met, even in highly diverse, crowded classrooms. The Oakland convening featured workshops and conversations focused on achieving a public education system with the arts and creativity at the center. Inspirational and strategic coaching keynote speakers included Bryonn Bain (Lyrics from Lockdown), Randy Nelson (Apple University), Sarah Crowell (Destiny Arts), and Michelle Lee (Youth Speaks).

So, Bravo! CREATE CA. I am looking forward to the work ahead. To learn more about where we are going in the arts education field and how we plan to get there, check out “A Blueprint for Creative Schools” at http://blueprint.createca.net. To learn more about the CREATE CA coalition, visit http://createca.net.

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P.S. ARTSCREATE CA Convening January, 2015: Fostering a Renaissance in Arts Education for California Schools

Inside Out Community Arts Mentor Natalie Resendiz on the “Encourage Creativity” series

on February 20, 2015 Comments Off on Inside Out Community Arts Mentor Natalie Resendiz on the “Encourage Creativity” series

An Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA) Mentor, Natalie Resendiz, was recently featured in the Americans for the Arts’ “Encourage Creativity” video series. We asked Natalie to share her experiences on this project, and we loved hearing about the process and her time as a student (and now mentor) in one of our programs!

P.S. ARTS: Describe your role as an IOCA Mentor; what motivated you to become a mentor?

Natalie: As an IOCA Mentor, I have had the chance to participate in play creation, workshops, and learning experiences that not many people my age get to have. When you’re a mentor you are the bridge between Artist Leaders and students. You are the center of what makes this a powerful program. When I was in my final year of The School Project (TSP), I was absolutely sure that I was not ready to leave; being a mentor allowed me to continue to gain valuable experiences from such a wonderful program.

P.S. ARTS: What is the “Encourage Creativity” series?

Natalie: The “Encourage Creativity” series is a set of four videos that aim to advocate for arts education. They strive to “inform your community, inspire your friends, and impact the world.” Take a look at the complete series HERE.

P.S. ARTS: How did you get involved?

Natalie: Kristen Engebretsen, who used to work with IOCA and now works for Americans for the Arts is my friend on social media. She said she really liked my energy in my Instagram videos and asked if I’d be interested in narrating a short video on the importance of arts education. It turned out that I was not only narrating – I would be starring in the video as well! We filmed at an elementary school in Santa Monica for 13 hours over two days. The process was entirely professional and as someone who doesn’t spend much time in front of a camera, this was beyond my wildest dreams. I could not believe that I was given an opportunity like this one simply because of my experiences with IOCA!

P.S. ARTS: What is the main thing you hope people will take away from this video?

Natalie: I hope that people understand that arts education really does help all those who participate. It’s not a myth; it’s real and it’s helpful. Art is meaningful and wonderful. I hope that those who want to be involved get involved! I hope others can use these videos as a resource to advocate for arts in their communities.

P.S. ARTS: How has being involved in IOCA impacted your life?

Natalie: When I was in the program, I wasn’t what many would consider a “troubled” student. I enjoyed school, I was outgoing and I did well in what I chose to participate in, but I didn’t exactly have what is considered an “easy” life. IOCA introduced me to a world that I didn’t know existed, which has helped me through some of the best and worst experiences of my life thus far; it has made me live an enriched life because I appreciate so much more as a result of what IOCA has taught me.

IOCA has always given me opportunities that I would have never imagined. The relationships I have created with my Artist Leaders, fellow Mentors, and our students are truly meaningful. I have been featured in blogs, in arts education videos, been in two musicals, received scholarships — I have even had a short play written about my life, all because of my time with IOCA. IOCA has given me a love that I will never lose: a family, I will always have and a life I have always deserved. 

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P.S. ARTSInside Out Community Arts Mentor Natalie Resendiz on the “Encourage Creativity” series

Week of the Young Child!

on April 16, 2015 Comments Off on Week of the Young Child!

By Allison Schaub, Advancement Associate

Since the early 1970s, the National Association for the Education of Young Children has held an annual celebration called Week of the Young Child (WOYC). During this designated week in April, individuals, communities and organizations across the nation join together to assess how we can better meet the needs of our youngest learners (birth – age 8) and their families. It also provides an opportunity to celebrate the programs and services that are working to meet these needs.

With that said, Happy WOYC! With each week feeling busier than the next, I decided this was an opportune time to stop for a few moments each day during WOYC and reflect on everything that was happening around the P.S. ARTS office. Here are just a few of my observations…

10:00 AM, Saturday April 11, 2015
Inclusive Arts Day

Students and their families are invited to take part in P.S. ARTS’ Inclusive Arts Day at Grand View Blvd. Elementary School for an afternoon of creativity and fun. With help from adaptive art supplies, students of all abilities could enjoy each activity. This provided a wonderful opportunity for the community to see how an inclusive arts education can help meet the diverse needs of our students.

For more event pictures, please visit our Flickr album!

2:00 PM, Monday April 13, 2015
Things Get Messy

P.S. ARTS staff happily (yes, happily!) moves our cars from the parking lot in order to create space for an afternoon of painting prep for scenery flats used by the Inside Out Community Art theater program. While street parking in Venice may not be easy, it was well worth it and we can’t wait to see how the primed flats will be transformed for the students’ performances.

9:00 AM, Tuesday April 14, 2015

Held at City Hall, Arts Day LA provides the opportunity for Angelenos to come together to celebrate the arts and culture in our city, and to share with elected officials why the arts matter. Programs Associate, Amy Knutson and Communications Associate, Jacob Campbell attended in support of arts education.

11:00 AM, Tuesday April 14, 2015
Working It Out From the Inside Out

It was decided one day at a staff meeting that we would learn the Inside Out song all together. Today was the day and there was no better teacher than Artist Leader Rolando Zee, who created dance choreography last year to help remember the lyrics. With Rolando’s enthusiasm, excellent instruction and a little patience, we had a BLAST learning the song.

4:00 PM, Tuesday April 14, 2015
Family Art Night x2!

Juan de Anza Elementary and Beethoven St. Elementary host Family Art Nights this evening. As of March, we have served 4,300 students and families through our Family Art Nights and other community engagement activities. Click here for a list of upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

12:00 PM, Wednesday April 15, 2015
Confluence 2015

Chief Program Officer, Elda Pineda is in Sacramento for Confluence 2015, a statewide convening for arts education. We’re thrilled and filled with pride that Elda is representing P.S. ARTS at the state capitol, and look forward to hearing what she learned from other movers and shakers in California’s arts community.

Our schedules may be jam-packed, but our students make the busy days so worth it! During WOYC, we want to recognize our 20,000 young learners who continue to inspire and energize us each and every day.

For more information of Week of the Young Child, click HERE!

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P.S. ARTSWeek of the Young Child!

Five Lessons from Confluence 2015

on April 30, 2015 Comments Off on Five Lessons from Confluence 2015

By Elda Pineda, Chief Program Officer

At P.S. ARTS, we are well aware that no matter how fantastic our programs are, our reach is limited by our resources. Yes, we’re proud to serve 20,000 students each week, and it seems like a large number until you consider the fact that there are 9.1 million children in California. If we ever hope to truly make an impact on the way our children are educated, we have to advocate for change at a local, state and federal level.
In recognition of the importance that advocacy and field-level cohesion play in influencing external systems, I recently left our cozy Venice offices and travelled to Sacramento to represent P.S. ARTS at Confluence 2015. Hosted by Californians for the Arts and held at the California State Capitol, Confluence is a statewide convening of arts organizations. It provides an opportunity for arts colleagues to learn from each other, hear about trends in the field, forge partnerships and advocate for the arts.

1. Data is good. Data + Passion is better.
Confluence opened with a Joint Committee on the Arts (chaired by Senator Ben Allen-District 26) hearing on the results of the 2014 Otis Report on the Creative Economy of California. The report’s message is that the arts play a vital role in California’s economy. Witnesses from the public, private and nonprofit sectors testified and spoke eloquently about the fact that without support for the arts and arts education, the talent pool in California will likely diminish. We were there to talk about the hard data and the economic benefits of the creative industries, but nearly every witness, from designers to engineers, spoke passionately about the ways they were profoundly affected by their own experiences in the arts. The Committee responded in kind, often sharing their own arts experiences.

2. Sure! But…
The Los Angeles delegation spent the afternoon making office visits to our legislators and advocating for a budget of $10 million for California’s state arts agency, the California Arts Council. While all legislators we visited were receptive to the request, we often heard that the arts cannot rely on state funding alone as it is a highly volatile source of support. We were encouraged to create private-nonprofit partnerships for revenue. Which reminds me, does anyone have a contact at Gatorade/Google/Nike?

3. Family/community trumps economy, every time.
Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group surveyed over 2,000 people across the U.S. and found that when it comes to building public will for the arts, people from all ethnicities, social-economic backgrounds, ages and geographic areas value the arts because they provide opportunities to connect with other people, thereby increasing quality of life — and not by just a little bit. Connection and community far outranked all other categories. WHAT!?! People over money! I’m proud of you, America.

4. Sustainability is not a goal! 
Okay, so that was a trick title. The whole sentence should be, “Sustainability is not a goal. It’s a state of mind, requiring constant reinvention and flexibility” according to Joel Slayton of ZERO1.  Sustainability has become the holy grail for nonprofits, with very little direction on how to actually get there. I think it’s really important for nonprofits and funders to hear that sustainability isn’t a magic wand that fixes all ills. We’re never going to get to stand on a rooftop and shout, “WE HAVE ACHIEVED SUSTAINABILITY. CHECK THAT OFF MY LIST!” Like marriage, ideal body weight, and Lady Gaga, sustainability requires maintenance and the ability to recognize when it’s time to change something.

5. Talk to people in the buffet line.
While I waited for my cheese and tapas, I struck up a conversation with a woman in front of me about how challenging it is for P.S. ARTS to recruit teachers in a particular tiny Central California town since our offices are located hundreds of miles away. As luck would have it, she ran a festival in that little town and knew practically every teaching artist in the area. I’ve initiated partnerships, made appointments with funders, solicited donations and recruited volunteers in buffet lines. They don’t tell you this management school, but the best networking happens while you’re holding an empty plate.

It was an eventful, illuminating, whirlwind of two days and a fantastic experience. Thank you to all the hard working people at the California Arts Council and Californians for the Arts for arranging a wonderful event. And a very special thank you to the many colleagues who co-prowled the halls of the Capitol Building, shared knowledge, dined and advocated with me. It’s a privilege to share a field with you!
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P.S. ARTSFive Lessons from Confluence 2015

Legislative Issues That Impact Arts Education

on November 5, 2013 Comments Off on Legislative Issues That Impact Arts Education

By Jennifer Leitch, Development Officer

Every other year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, Americans cast their ballots and help shape the direction of our country. In honor of the hard-won privilege to vote, we have highlighted some current legislative issues that impact the arts in this country.

The California Arts Council (CAC), a state agency whose mission is to advance California through the arts and creativity, and who provides hundreds of grants to California-based arts organizations each year (including P.S. ARTS), faced a big hurdle at the start of the 2013-2014 fiscal year: an almost 7 percent budget reduction. This was especially dismal considering that nationally, California has consistently ranked at or near the bottom in per-capita funding for arts grants. However, thanks to the collective effort of Californians for the Arts and other arts advocates, in mid-July, Assembly Speaker John Perez made a discretionary allocation of an additional $2 million to the California Arts Council, doubling what the CAC was slated to receive. This additional funding, which comes from savings in the 2013 State Assembly operating budget and is the first increase in tax-payer supported funding for the CAC in ten years, is restricted for grants and services that directly support the arts in California communities. We are thrilled to be the recipient of a California Arts Council grant, and thank the Speaker for his dedication and commitment to the arts in California!

On a federal level, the situation isn’t as bright. In the wake of ongoing debates surrounding tax reform, there is concern that charitable giving incentives will be reduced or eliminated; a 100-year old tradition that has benefited millions of Americans and that has helped establish a history of charitable giving in the U.S. that is unrivaled. The provision in question, which allows taxpayers to deduct donations made to nonprofits, not only threatens the nonprofit sector, but also the communities they serve. Charitable giving is a significant, if not primary, source of revenue for nonprofit organizations (P.S. ARTS receives approximately 80% of its revenue from charitable donations), and while most giving is motivated by the cause it supports, history has shown that donors do respond to tax law changes by altering when and how much they give. Without this support, the level of programming and services offered to those in need would be dramatically reduced. Capping the charitable deductions would also result in the loss of nonprofit jobs – a consequence that could potentially have a lasting and harmful impact on the sector. Here are a few more facts about the charitable tax deduction and nonprofits:

  • For every $1 dollar in deductions claimed, charities receive $3 dollars in revenue.
  • There are approximately 1.4 million nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations in the U.S., including arts organizations, hospitals, private schools, institutions of higher education, religious congregations, public television and radio stations, soup kitchens, and foundations.
  • U.S. nonprofit organizations contribute $1.1 trillion in human services every year and support 13.5 million jobs.[1]

Charitable giving incentives are an investment in the public good and are essential to the health of the nonprofit sector. The budget committee is expected to report on issues surrounding tax reform and long-term spending decisions on December 13, 2013. You can help us preserve the charitable giving incentives by emailing your legislators (find your legislator here).

For more information about other legislation affecting the arts (including a proposed 49% cut to the NEA to be considered when the current Continuing Resolution expires in January), please visit the Americans for the Arts website.

[1] “Advocacy and Policy.” Americans for the Arts. Web. November 4, 2013.

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P.S. ARTSLegislative Issues That Impact Arts Education

Arts & The Mind: PBS

on July 22, 2013 Comments Off on Arts & The Mind: PBS

P.S. ARTS was featured in the PBS documentary Arts & The Mind, a two-part special that first aired in September 2012 that explored the vital role the arts play in human development.  This documentary showcased some of the country’s most successful art programs, including P.S. ARTS.  Hosted and narrated by P.S. ARTS Board Member Lisa Kudrow, Arts & The Mind makes the point that art is not a “luxury,” but central to the development of the human brain in youth and keeping our minds sharp as we get older.  P.S. ARTS is proud to have been included in this important film.

Watch Creativity on PBS. See more from Arts & The Mind.

Watch The Art of Connection on PBS. See more from Arts & The Mind.

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P.S. ARTSArts & The Mind: PBS