On December 2nd, P.S. ARTS students from Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Burlington Campus stepped off a bus at LAX for Delta’s annual Holiday in the Hangar event. Delta, the official airline of P.S. ARTS and a generous supporter of our arts education programs, put together an incredible day filled with holiday fun and a few surprises.
Excited second graders, their teachers, and parent chaperones along with kids and families from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles were greeted by dozens of smiling Delta staff members (festively dressed in full elf attire) who had volunteered for the event. As we made our way through the security checkpoints, a few students shared with me that this was going to be their first time on an airplane — the excitement was palpable!
Once we arrived at the gate, the students were prompted to gather around a giant Christmas tree while TSA officers serenaded us with holiday carols. I have a secret hope that the bandleader will be manning the security checkpoint the next time I travel so I can tell him how much we all enjoyed the concert. After a sing along rendition of Pharrell’s “Happy,” the gate opened and the students boarded the plane. It was decked out in holiday decor including glitter snow, tinsel, and lights. The students were given the full in-flight experience by Delta’s friendly crew — complete with a safety check and snack service!
After a few short minutes, the plane “arrived” at the North Pole. We pulled into the hangar where students were welcomed by lights, music, cheering crowds, and special guests (including former Laker AC Green, Shay Mitchell of Pretty Little Liars, and Rowan Blanchard of Girl Meets World).
Students rotated through various activity booths, including hockey with representatives from the LA Kings, face painting, The GRAMMY Museum’s photo booth, and other arts and crafts. After lunch, just when the students thought the day couldn’t get any better, Santa arrived! Each child had an opportunity to meet Santa and received a gift to take home.
As they boarded the bus to head back to school, the teachers commented on how much everyone enjoyed the day. It was an incredibly successful event, and our students left with a whole lot of holiday cheer (and some very cool games and toys thanks to Delta and their partners). A heartfelt thank you to Delta for including P.S. ARTS and our Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Burlington Campus students in this very special day.
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.”
On Sunday, November 15th, the Barker Hangar was once again filled with excited families and friends for P.S. ARTS’ 17th Annual Express Yourself! This was my first year helping plan Express Yourself, and it was a huge undertaking — a mixture of all of our other annual events rolled into one! With the help of Express Yourself veterans and newbies alike, this magical afternoon went off without a hitch. The months, weeks, and days leading up to the big day were all worth it to see the excited faces of our guests brighten with each of the art projects and tasty treats they tried, all the while giving back to the 25,000 students we serve through our award-winning programs.
The Art Booths!
Just like our programs, Express Yourself is known for the innovative arts activities that give our guests the freedom to imagine and the power to create. This year, some of our favorite sponsors were back with incredible projects; OneWest Bank a division of CIT Bank, N.A. brought their signature piggy banks, Delta Air Lines taught guests to construct paper airplanes, Cindy Ambuehl & The Agency facilitated endless Duck Tape creations, E! Entertainment helped families get red carpet ready, and ADBD outfitted our supporters in their latest line of P.S. ARTS merchandise. We loved the fresh projects from some of our newest partners; Yoobi brought their decked-out school supply-filled bus, Seedling helped guests create their own Adventure Satchels, Junk Food Clothing Co. live screen printed kids’ tees, Momstamp supplied make-your-own journals, and families got to paint with the amazing artist team, DABSMYLA!
One of my favorite parts of Express Yourself was working with each of the yummy restaurants, catering companies, food trucks, and businesses from all around the LA area who gave their time (and tastes) to make this year’s event so delicious. From donuts to sliders, barbecue to grilled cheese, cupcakes to tacos, this year’s Express Yourself Edible Booths provided a hearty and diverse menu for our 1,500 hungry guests to sample. Each booth brought perfect bite sized tastes that allowed us to take a food tour around Barker Hangar… and go back for seconds and thirds (okay, fourths too!).
This event would not be possible without the support of Bounce, The Herb Alpert Foundation, The Goldhirsh-Yellin Foundation, The Ketterer Family, The Resnick Family Foundation, and the contributions of our community. We are so grateful for your continued generosity, and hope to see you next November!
Check out more photos from our amazing photographers Horatio Jung, Elaine Lee, Kelsey Mitchell, Donato Sardella, and Mike Windle HERE!
As a new member of the P.S. ARTS community, I recently had the privilege of attending my first Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA) camping and rehearsal retreat at Camp Bloomfield, an experience I shared with dozens of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade student artists from the LA South Bay. This was the first time our three TakePART school sites—Dana Middle School in Wiseburn, Prairie Vista Middle School in Hawthorne, and Will Rogers Middle School in Lawndale—were able to participate in the IOCA camping retreat, and they were thrilled to join. We packed approximately 75 middle school students and about 16 student mentors (many of whom graduated from those very same schools) onto three yellow school buses and sent them on their way to live, play, and create theater together during three magical days in the Malibu mountains. Thus, I found myself on a cold Thursday night, boldly driving a van full of musical instruments and several boxes of rotisserie chicken up PCH for my very first night at IOCA Camp!
The IOCA Mentors rock! They are a group of dedicated and talented student alumni, and they were an integral part of running camp and keeping all of our activities fun and safe. Mentors arrived on Thursday night and had the camp all to themselves to prepare for the big weekend. After a full dinner and quick orientation, we headed to the ropes course where each of us bravely strapped on a harness and learned to trust each other to catch our fall (for the record, I did not fall! Hooray!).
Friday afternoon the IOCA students arrived with armfuls of luggage and heads full of ideas for the plays they would spend the next 48 hours creating. The rest of the weekend was packed full with a student talent show, sunrise hike, theater games, DJ dance, swimming, star hike, and A LOT of rehearsal with their play groups!
On Saturday, we held a dress rehearsal of the six plays-in-progress, and the students performed for each other against a natural wooded backdrop.
On the final day of camp, we packed the busses full with students, staff, luggage, sleeping bags, costumes, and props and departed the lovely Camp Bloomfield. However, we had one afternoon stop planned before returning to our homes and families — the beach! It was a perfect 74 degrees at Leo Carillo State Beach in Malibu, and promptly upon arriving, several students took off their socks and dug their feet in the sand. Others sat pensively on their beach blankets or hung out in groups making friendship bracelets with new friends. Some of us even braved the ocean waves (many thanks to Artist Leader Cleo for rocking her awesome wet-suit and lifeguarding for us!).
My favorite magic moment of camp came during our closing circle. At the end of our beach day, each of the six play groups circled up on the sand to reflect on their experiences at camp. Students talked about their favorite activities, what they had learned about themselves, and what they looked forward to in the coming weeks as the program would draw to a close. As I looked around the beach, I was struck by the beauty of the changing colors in the early evening sky. Suddenly, a great cheer erupted from several of the circles at the same time. It took me a moment to figure out what had happened— the sun had just touched down on the horizon. The students had been watching the setting sun during their discussions, and without any planning or communicating, they all let out a great cheer as it disappeared below the water. Over my right shoulder I heard one student say, “Oh my gosh, I have never seen that before,” another said, “Neither have I,” followed by, “That is so cool!” It occurred to me that many of our students had never had an opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasure of watching a sunset or sunrise. The joy and wonder on their faces in that moment is something that I will carry with me always.
This #WhyIGive Wednesday, third-grade teacher and P.S. ARTS supporter Annie Bishop shares why she invested in the future of public school arts education with a gift to the P.S. ARTS Endowment.
A message from Annie Bishop . . .
As a public school teacher, there is a lot of pressure to implement district initiatives and programs. Though these mandates are well-intentioned, they require us, the teachers, to spread ourselves thin. The time that could be spent planning great lessons for our students is often spent filling out paperwork and attending meetings or trainings. Many of these new district initiatives are aimed at getting students to think critically and creatively or teaching students about empathy and compassion — all of which can be developed through the artistic process — yet few, if any, of these programs, integrate the arts. If it were up to the teachers, I can guarantee that we would fill our students’ days with creativity and that the arts would be an irreplaceable part of every day. Unfortunately, this creative aspect of teaching and learning is too often disappearing from the profession.
I give to P.S. ARTS because I truly believe in the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Though we can survive on only a granola bar for lunch and can make it from the morning bell to lunchtime without a restroom break, teachers are not super-humans. Though we sometimes pretend we do, we do not have superpowers, and we can’t do everything. I think trying to is actually detrimental to our students. No one likes a tired, grumpy teacher!
The solution is to embrace the “village” resources that are available to us. P.S. ARTS and its amazingly talented Teaching Artists is a perfect model for how we can truly provide our students with the best well-rounded education possible. Instead of overextending classroom teachers and neglecting students’ needs for a creative outlet, why not share the responsibility and rely on community partners for support? This is exactly what P.S. ARTS enables schools and teachers to do. P.S. ARTS contributes to a cycle of improving not only the well-being of the students, but of the community. Students develop creatively, professional artists share their passions, community and school partnerships continue to grow, and our village is uplifted.
I will end with a quote from one of my favorite artists:
“Every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” — Pablo Picasso
I think I speak for all teachers when I say that I don’t want to be responsible for diminishing the creative spirit in my students, but rather for nourishing it. Unfortunately, the current system doesn’t always allow for creative growth. Thanks to P.S. ARTS, classroom teachers and Teaching Artists are able to work together to create more meaningful educational experiences for all learners.
In response to a recent LA Times article concerning the lack of arts access in LAUSD, P.S. ARTS CEO Dr. Kristen Paglia positions nonprofit and philanthropic partnerships as a sustainable, scalable model to address district-wide arts education.
I read the recent LA Times article about the scarcity of the arts in LAUSD while I waited in my car for the rain to let up before going to observe a 4th grade visual art class in the Lawndale Elementary School District (LESD). Walking into the classroom, the grey day and the dismal picture of access to the arts in LA public schools described in the piece quickly disappeared behind the students’ paintings of iconic California landscapes. The kids worked with rapt attention, taking care, as their Teaching Artist had instructed them, to “gauge the distance between parallel lines when creating the illusion of depth.”
The creativity and critical thinking in that classroom of 9 and 10 year olds was provided by P.S. ARTS, a nonprofit organization providing 25,000 California public school students across 14 districts with yearlong in-school arts education, and one of the “outside groups” mentioned in the article offering to help LAUSD bridge the gap caused by budget cuts.
LESD’s initiative to provide an integrated arts education curriculum for each and every one of its nearly 6,000 students was launched in 2007 with a $1.5 million grant from the Herb Alpert Foundation. Eight years later, the district now matches philanthropic funds to sustain the P.S. ARTS program and is an excellent example of what such private-public partnerships make possible — last year, results from a two-year study by UCLA Professor Emeritus Dr. James Catterall verified that participation in the P.S. ARTS program significantly increased LESD students’ ability express complex ideas when speaking and writing, and solve problems creatively and collaboratively.
With a $26.5 million budget increase this year for the arts in LAUSD, and district arts director Rory Pullens at the helm, this can be a defining moment for LAUSD. My hope is that LAUSD is gearing up to scale this synergistic approach of pairing high-need schools with high-quality nonprofit providers that has proven so effective in smaller districts.
This #WhyIGive Wednesday, P.S. ARTS supporter (and former Development & Communications Associate) Megan Strawther shares why she invested in the future of public school arts education with a gift to the P.S. ARTS Endowment.
A message from Megan Strawther . . .
January 3rd, 2011, was my very first day as the Advancement & Operations Assistant at P.S. ARTS. It was my first “big girl” job out of college, and I was both nervous and thrilled to be joining a team of people that worked hard to level the playing field and create opportunities for children in California’s underserved public schools. Education had played such a pivotal role in my life, and I was honored to be working for a nonprofit like P.S. ARTS that sought to make educational experiences more engaging and equitable for everyone.
For nearly four years, I got to see our programs in action. I saw kids express themselves through beautiful art projects, I saw Teaching Artists inspire their students to achieve more, and I saw parents beam with pride because their child had garnered the confidence to perform a musical number in front of a packed auditorium. More than that, I got to see all of the extraordinary work happening behind the scenes to ensure that these children, schools, and communities received the arts education and cultural experiences they deserved. From managing various stakeholders that were integral to our organization’s success and coordinating fundraising events to support our services to fostering an office culture where our staff was encouraged to learn and grow together, it was always the operations of P.S. ARTS that impressed me most. It was here that I learned how important it is to have a strong organizational infrastructure – both in terms of processes set in place and having an army of dedicated individuals passionate about the cause – in order to have the greatest impact on those you serve.
My work at P.S. ARTS is what inspired me to pursue my current studies in social entrepreneurship at the USC Marshall School of Business. My time working in administration, fundraising, and marketing at P.S. ARTS has given me a solid foundation from which to understand how institutions can be most effective. Not only is P.S. ARTS an exemplar model for arts education, it is also an exemplar model for how to run a nonprofit organization that provides crucial services in the community. I would not be where I am today, and motivated by the possibility of what we can accomplish together, were it not for this organization.
This is #WhyIGive to P.S. ARTS. I am confident that my investment will support the long-term growth of this organization and that my donation will have a lasting impact on the 25,000 children it provides arts education to every single day. I am so proud to have called P.S. ARTS my home for so many years, and I am grateful that organizations like P.S. ARTS exist to lend hope and opportunities to our next generation of changemakers.
Family Art Nights have been a vital part of P.S. ARTS’ Community Engagement program since 2010. Almost every week of the school year, families come together for a free, hands-on art activity hosted by P.S. ARTS and led by our talented teaching artists at our various partner schools throughout Southern and Central California.
The Family Art Night art project always reflects P.S. ARTS’ unifying theme for the school year. This year’s theme, “All The Colors I Am Inside,” is based on our literary masterwork “Colors,” a poem by Shel Silverstein. We love that this poem reminds students that there is so much inside of them that may not have been discovered yet. It also teaches us that we can’t judge someone by the way that they look and that everyone has so many different qualities and colors layered just below the surface.
Mark Bradford is a contemporary artist from Los Angeles, and his paintings are a perfect example of the way that art, like people, can have many layers. He puts layers upon layers of images and words from magazines, trash, and other bits of paper onto canvas. Then, he paints over them — scratching and sanding away at the surface to reveal bits and pieces of the colors and images underneath the paint.
The Secret Colors project utilizes some of Bradford’s unique techniques. After practicing how to sketch a self-portrait, families cover a sheet of paper with the colors that represent them. It might seem counterintuitive at first, but the next step is to coat the entire sheet of paper with black paint. The final step is to scratch off the paint to create a self-portrait and reveal the hidden colors underneath. The result is a colorful yet mysterious self-portrait that utilizes unconventional art-making techniques; by doing a project that uses paint in a way that’s out of the ordinary, we hope to encourage our students and families to celebrate their unique and diverse identities.
At P.S. ARTS, we truly believe that one of the best ways to learn about the importance of arts education is to make art! Family Art Nights offer people of all ages the opportunity to integrate art into their daily lives by coming together as a community and creating with their loved ones.
If you are unable to attend one of our Family Art Nights, you can download our Bradford-inspired P.S. ARTS to go! project in ENGLISH or SPANISH. For more at-home projects, please visit psarts.org/to-go
This #WhyIGive Wednesday, P.S. ARTS supporter (and mother of our very own Communications Associate Jacob Campbell) Christina Taylor shares why she invested in the future of public school arts education with a gift to the P.S. ARTS Endowment.
A message from Christina M. Taylor . . .
I chose to support the P.S. ARTS Endowment because I believe that arts programs are an essential part of public education as they help all kids, especially those who might not fit the typical mold, find their niche. Having raised two very different sons — one involved in the performing arts and the other in baseball, basketball, and football — I was thankful that our school district offered diverse programming to meet the needs of each of my kids. I’ve been fortunate to see how access to arts education has influenced my son Jacob and helped him to become successful in his college and career endeavours.
Participating in the #2xTUES social media campaign made it so easy to donate, and I won a super cool prize of tickets to P.S. ARTS’ Taste of Venice event. It was such a fun, delicious day filled with awesome food and music, and I loved connecting with the community that ensures the future and sustainability of P.S. ARTS’ programs.
Please consider supporting the P.S. ARTS Endowment and opening up opportunities for all children to find their niche in this world!