Teaching arts to 28,000 students in Los Angeles

by LA's BEST

During the period of January 1, 2012 to March 31, 2012, the LA’s BEST After School Arts Program (ASAP) continued to provide high-quality, innovative, visual and performing arts-learning opportunities in benefit of public elementary school children for whom arts education is otherwise scarce or non-existent.  In addition, ASAP students began to prepare for a number of springtime opportunities to exhibit their talent.  ASAP participants began to create and produce dance, song, drama and spoken word performances with messages of non-violence that they will showcase during the annual Community Jam Against Violence at the Saban Theatre in May.  In addition ASAP students began working on paintings and drawings they will submit to the essay and art contest associated with the LA’s BEST Annual Family Brunch, which will be held on June 3 at the Beverly Hilton.  Selected winners and their families will be invited to attend the Brunch, which celebrates the partnerships that support LA’s BEST and common values around the promotion of achievement among Los Angeles children most in need.


This year, the LA’s BEST After School Arts Program was selected as the beneficiary of the McCall Family Foundation’s fresh stART annual fundraising event in 2012 and 2014.  A one-night art exhibition and sale held in the hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, fresh stART supports programs that provide arts-related therapies to children designated “at-risk”, and stimulates the arts in Los Angeles by providing potential collectors with a personal connection to both established and emerging artists.  LA’s BEST representatives attended fresh stART 2012 in February, and distributed information about the After School Arts Program.  In April, LA’s BEST received $80,000 in generous proceeds from the event, which will be applied in combination with other new Program funds in support of building the capacity of ASAP in order to increase the number of residencies offered and students served in the upcoming year.    

During the fall of 2011, 56 LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program sites celebrated the accomplishments of children in some of After School Arts Program’s (ASAP) most ambitious and diverse residencies yet!  ASAP Culminating events showcased the talents of children and were attended by hundreds of friends and family members.  Children at Bradley Magnet and Cienega Elementary learned the fundamentals of drawing with ASAP instructor Kenneth Beavers; for their culmination, these young artists exhibited self portraits and colorful still lives.  At Flournoy and Weigand Elementary children were introduced to theatre and teamwork through residencies designed and led by Franklin Performing Arts.

Also in the fall, students from Cabrillo visited Slanguage Studio and participated in workshops led by Slanguage artists and founders Karla Diaz and Mario Ybarra Jr.  (Slanguage is an artist group headquartered in Wilmington, California, a harbor area of Los Angeles.  Currently, members make art, produce events, lead art-education workshops, curate and exhibit their work throughout the world.)  Slanguage residencies are among some of the newest ASAP programs which will be being offered at LA's BEST sites, others include; drum-circle percussion, collegiate step, contemporary dance and chorus.

ASAP residencies consist of professional artist-educators providing one hour workshops in either the visual or performing arts for two groups of children, twice weekly for ten weeks.  Each artist-educator designs and submits a unique residency curriculum that is aligned to the California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards.  The residency plan is then reviewed by ASAP staff to ensure it is consistent with the programming standards of LA's BEST.  The current selection of residencies is varied and includes costume design, popular dance, print-making, Latin percussion, Cameroonian dance, sculpture, painting, drawing, mask making, Polynesian dance and photography.   Once a residency has been approved, Traveling and Site Staff work with an ASAP Arts Coordinator to place the residency at a site.

ASAP String Project Performance
ASAP String Project Performance

Although school is out of session for most students during the summer months, children involved in LA’s BEST have many opportunities to continue to develop academic and social skills and knowledge while having fun in a safe and supervised, engaging and encouraging environment.   During the period of July 1, 2011 to September 30, 2011, LA’s BEST After School Arts Program (ASAP) provided more than 60 professional artist/educator lead visual and performing arts residencies benefiting 2,500 children ages five to 12 who attend under-resourced public schools, reside in low-income communities, and would otherwise lack access to arts education and exposure.  Moreover, LA’s BEST leadership staff and partners in arts education planned for the upcoming school year, which includes expanding the ASAP String Project at one site and launching the Project at an additional site, so up to 100 more children in need will receive classical music education and instrumental instruction this academic year.

Over the summer LA’s BEST partnered with an organization called “Found Animals”, and participated in the “Animals Are Our Friends” Campaign, which engaged children in conversations about the important roles animals play in our lives and the need for people to treat animals with compassion.  LA’s BEST ASAP students at 131 sites contributed over 1,000 works of art which illustrate the message, “Animals Are Our Friends”.  Further, in partnership with the Skirball Cultural Center, LA’s BEST ASAP students helped paint 100 foam animals that were part of a Noah’s Arc exhibit.

During the reporting period, students in the LA’s BEST After School Arts Program visited a number of exciting locations to experience and enjoy art first hand, including the Norton Simon Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Tolerance, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, and the Skirball Cultural Center. 

During the period of April 1, 2011 to June 30, 2011, the LA’s BEST After School Arts Program (ASAP) continued to provide high quality, culturally-inclusive and meaningful visual and performing arts education and exposure during the after school hours for children ages five to 12 who do not have other avenues for arts experiences.  In addition, the spring season was a time during which ASAP students had opportunities to showcase their talents to the community.  In April, more than 300 ASAP students performed at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills for an enthusiastic audience comprised of their families and friends, as well as LA’s BEST stakeholders, in the LA’s BEST 17th Annual Community Jam Against Violence—an event that celebrates non-violent approaches to emotional self expression.  In addition, in June, the ASAP String Project Orchestra from Castelar Elementary School performed at the LA’s BEST 19th Annual Family Brunch, demonstrating their gains in learning to play violin, viola and cello.


From January 1, 2011 to March 31, 2011, donations made through Global Giving continued to support the After School Arts Program (ASAP).  ASAP is a vital component of the enrichment programming provided by LA’s BEST in efforts to wholly prepare children in need for success in both school and in life, and a prime example of the organization’s innovative approach to gaining and sustaining the interest of student who can often otherwise become disinterested in their education.  Almost 2,500 children who have no other access to education around and exposure to the arts participate in ASAP with LA’s BEST.

During the reporting period, staff and students involved in ASAP geared up for the 17th Annual Community Jam Against Violence, which was held on April 5 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.  More than 300 students led by enthusiastic staff members at 26 LA’s BEST school sites were selected to showcase performances in this year’s event.  In the weeks leading up to the Community Jam, staff encouraged students to explore creative, non-violent avenues for emotional self expression, and produced dance, song, drama and spoken word performances intended to promote peace, health, happiness and a sense of community.  Dedicated ASAP students rehearsed tirelessly, designed and built props and sets, and created costumes in preparation for the exciting, energizing on-stage display of young talent.  


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Organization Information


Location: Los Angeles, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.lasbest.org
Project Leader:
Robin Manzer
Director of Development/Grants
Los Angeles, CA United States

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