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Company & Culture

Spotlight On Inner-City Arts: Creative Education in Los Angeles Schools

Raquel Gonzales
Inner-City Arts provides arts education for elementary, middle-school and high school students within the Los Angeles Unified School District as well as local charter schools. The teaching artists are people who are highly skilled in their respective art, but more importantly have a genuine passion for sharing what they know with their students.


I’ve been involved with
Inner-City Arts for about a year now, as a part of their Learning and Achieving through the Arts (or “LATA”) program. I work alongside Teaching Artists to assist them with preparing materials for class and help students with their process. We help them to think creatively when it comes to ideating and problem-solving.

Inner-City Arts

VOLUNTEERING

Most days, I get to the classroom before the students arrive so that the teaching artist can go over the agenda for that day and prepare course materials. Students are then bussed in from their schools to the Inner-City Arts campus. Each class usually begins with a demo of the project, and an overview of challenges that may arise. We then demonstrate multiple ways in which a project can be executed while also encouraging them to think of their own approach.

Since I’m lucky enough to work at Salted Stone, an organization that encourages employees to give back to the community, I get to do this every Monday and Wednesday morning.

I’ve assisted in a Filmmaking course, which taught students how to craft a story, highlighted the different roles required to get it made, and allowed students to use a camera and edit within iMovie. Because the students worked in groups throughout this course, they learned to encourage participation from their teammates, to share ideas respectfully, and to divide work amongst themselves based on their interests.

CreativityLab-4PHOTO CREDIT: SEAN MYERS

I also volunteered for a Media Arts animation course. I worked under two teaching artists who led this class to complete four animation projects which were brilliantly done. The students’ work was incredibly creative and I really enjoyed this class’ wacky sense of humor.

The course I am currently assisting is the Creativity Lab course. Creativity Lab is a fun course for students to create 3-dimensional sculpture “machines” using wire, wood, and some simple woodworking machines. It’s amazing to see what the kids have created in this class as the projects require not only creativity, but precision and attention to detail in order for their “machines” to work.

WHY INNER-CITY ARTS MATTERS

Many schools within Los Angeles lack the resources, funding, and capacity for a robust arts program. In fact, according to the Inner-City Arts website, “29% of California's public schools offer no study in any arts discipline.”

Without the arts children develop a limited understanding of applied creativity, so their approach to problem-solving becomes very systematic — 1+1=2. By providing courses that would not otherwise be accessible, students who attend Inner-City Arts are exposed to various forms of art, and are given the ability to more fully express themselves.

ICACampusPhoto5
PHOTO COURTESY OF INNER-CITY ARTS

We need to instill within our youth that they do have a voice and that their community is listening. Since many children in the program are from lower income and/or minority households, this is particularly pertinent. A 2015 - 2017 Los Angeles County Arts Commission survey revealed a persistent access and equity issue: “Schools with a larger share of English learners, more students eligible for free and reduced price meals (a proxy for low income) and more students of color tend to provide less arts instruction which is of lower quality.”

And the results of programs like this lead to greater academic performances across various subjects. An independent United States DOE evaluation reported that students who attend Inner-City Arts classes, and whose teachers participate in programs with Inner-City Arts see:

A 33% increase in creativity scores, a 10% increase in English proficiency, and a 6.5% increase in mathematics scores.

MediaArts-4IMAGES TAKEN ON THE MOMENTA PROJECT LOS ANGELES 2018: WORKING WITH NONPROFITS WORKSHOP IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.
PHOTO © BILL TANCER/MOMENTA WORKSHOPS 2018. 

WHAT INNER-CITY ARTS STUDENTS HAVE TAUGHT ME

Besides this one time that a 4th grade girl from Angeles Mesa Elementary corrected me that unicorns don’t have wings, but it is in fact a pegasus that has wings, I’ve learned more than I expected. The fun and wild imagination of the kids reminds me that we should always play around with ideas, experiment and see what works. I’ve yet to see a student who isn’t genuinely interested in the course material--kids are curious and not cynical. The kids are also so incredibly supportive of one another and it’s refreshing to see the camaraderie and respect that that they have towards their peers.

WANT TO GET INVOLVED?

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities, whether they be part of the educational program or community events, there’s something for everyone and it’s easy to sign up as a volunteer.

To see the list of volunteer opportunities visit the Inner-City Arts website today.


Salted Stone encourages all team members to engage with their community and explore passions that extend beyond their job descriptions. Want to contribute to our culture? Let's talk: careers@saltedstone.com!
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