The 2012 Otis Report And What It Means For Arts Education

By Jennifer Leitch, Development Officer

Every year, Otis College of Art and Design, with the LA County Economic Development Corporation, takes on the daunting task of quantifying LA’s creativity. The report, which was released in December, underscores the impact creative industries have on the Los Angeles and Orange County economies. The findings are impressive.

Driven by the arts, design, and entertainment, the creative economy accounts for one out of every eight jobs in the region and contributes more than $3.3 billion to state and local tax revenues[1]. Other noteworthy facts include:

  • The creative industries rank as the 4th largest out of 66 industry clusters in Los Angeles County
  • The creative economy accounts for 664,000 direct and indirect jobs
  • The arts have a combined economic output of $230.7 billion in Los Angeles and Orange Counties

Clearly, the creative economy is a major force in Los Angeles, yet we have not invested in this resource.  According to research done by the Public Policy Institute of California, our state is not educating a sufficient supply of workers for an economy that is shifting toward high-skill jobs and away from lower-skill jobs. “We must invest in our people,” says Otis President Samuel Hoi. “In a region with a richly diverse population, education of a creative workforce is a great social-economic equalizer, because through the development of their innate creativity, young people of modest and immigrant backgrounds can advance themselves and their families.” P.S. ARTS programs strive to fulfill this charge by providing an arts education that is rooted in creativity and encourages imagination to the underserved children in our communities.

At P.S. ARTS, we believe that early and ongoing arts education prepares students for a modern economy that values innovation and interdisciplinary thinking by fostering creative, academic, and social skills. In a culture defined by Web-based technologies and an instantaneous, unlimited access to information, the need for originality is pressing. Extensive research has shown that student involvement in the arts is linked to higher academic performance and increased engagement in community service. Studies also show that arts education reduces truancy and dropout rates[2]. Although the value of arts education is widely recognized, shrinking budgets and competing priorities have forced schools to reduce the time allotted for arts instruction during the school day; in fact, California public schools have witnessed between a 50 and 100 percent decline in arts education over the last decade.   The narrowed curricula currently offered in our public schools not only runs the risk of alienating students whose interests or skills are not based in reading and math, but also misses an important opportunity to foster creativity and critical thinking through education. P.S. ARTS’ dance, music, theater, and visual arts classes directly compensate for the arts that have been eliminated from these communities and provide students with the creative skill set necessary for success in the 21st century workplace.

At P.S. ARTS, we are honored to have the opportunity work with local schools and students in an effort to provide an integrated arts curriculum to the school day and help foster collaboration, creativity, and innovative thinking in the next generation.

[1] Prepared for the OTIS College of Art and Design by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. (2012). OTIS Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region.

[2] Prepared for the OTIS College of Art and Design by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. (2012). OTIS Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region.

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