P.S. ARTS Announces 2014-2015 School Year Expansion

Two new major initiatives to expand reach to nearly 20,000 children


P.S. ARTS Expands Programs in 2014-2015 School Year


VENICE, CA – P.S. ARTS is expanding its programs in the 2014-2015 school year and will serve nearly 20,000 children each week from September to June by deepening and broadening the scope of its programs as the result of two major initiatives: a fully-funded expansion in the Santa Monica Malibu School District (SMMUSD) and the acquisition of the Venice-based Inside Out Community Arts program.

P.S. ARTS currently provides arts education programming to four Title I schools in SMMUSD, and beginning in the 2014-2015 academic year, P.S. ARTS will be the arts service provider for all eleven elementary schools in the District. The SMMUSD community’s desire to replicate the P.S. ARTS program, even at full cost to the District, is an endorsement of the quality and rigor of the programming, and P.S. ARTS is committed to establishing equity in arts education throughout SMMUSD.

“We are so pleased to be increasing our service population to 20,000 students come September and very grateful to the many partners who have helped make this a reality, including the dedicated and innovative foundations behind the NSI and the Santa Monica-Malibu School District and Education Fund,” said Amy Shapiro, Executive Director of Advancement & Operations.

Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA) provides after-school theater and media education for at-risk middle and high school youth and is a longstanding P.S. ARTS partner in the Centinela Valley-based TakePART initiative.  The acquisition of IOCA establishes a continuity of service between P.S. ARTS’ elementary school programs and the IOCA middle school program and will give some P.S. ARTS students up to six additional years of arts education beyond elementary school. The opportunity to explore this merger with Inside Out Community Arts was made possible by a grant from the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative (NSI). Launched in 2012 by the California Community Foundation, Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and the Weingart Foundation, NSI helps LA-based nonprofits explore and implement partnerships and restructuring efforts that lead to greater organizational efficiency.

“For the past five years, P.S. ARTS has been highly focused on finding innovative ways to be more efficient and cost-effective,” said P.S. ARTS Executive Director of Education & Programs Dr. Kristen Paglia.  “Strategic decisions on the programs and operations side, including merging with Inside Out Community Arts, have paid off by opening up opportunities to serve many more students and school districts sustainably.”

While arts education research focuses heavily on the impact of the arts on students’ performance in school, it is also clear that the benefits of the arts are not limited to the classroom. As California schools are faced with implementing a new, more rigorous, and more complex set of educational standards, P.S. ARTS took the opportunity to revise and expand our approach. The expanded P.S. ARTS model now addresses the need for quality after-school programming that aligns with what students learn during the school day and that engages the whole family. The Inside Out Community Arts Program of P.S. ARTS is the organization’s inaugural Extended Learning program, which P.S. ARTS hopes will evolve over time such that all P.S. ARTS students will have the opportunity to continue their arts education through high school.

The 2014-2015 School Year Theme: Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers

Amy Knutson, Education & Programs Assistant

By Amy Knutson, Education & Programs Assistant

Two years ago, P.S. ARTS introduced a new element to our in-school programming: a unifying theme developed by our Teaching Artists that would guide their curriculum throughout the course of the school year. The 2012-2013 theme, Tree of Life: Roots and Branches, focused on community and cultural roots, and last year’s Exploring Our Dreams, Expanding Our Universe theme encouraged students to reach above and beyond and explore their greatest aspirations. This year, I have the privilege of announcing that the 2014-2015 theme is Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers. Our staff and I really excited to see how our Teaching Artists incorporate this theme into their classroom projects and lessons.

In May we met with our 40+ Teaching Artists to brainstorm the concepts we wanted to focus on in our classrooms this year. Elda Pineda, our Programs Director, facilitated the session using engagement and consensus building techniques from Richard Axelrod and Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. During the session, our Teaching Artists and Education & Programs staff talked a lot about wanting our students to explore the ideas of transforming, connecting, migrating, and overcoming obstacles.

As you can imagine, finding a statement that would incorporate all these ideas in an easily accessible (and easy to remember!) way was a challenge.  After throwing out lots ideas, we thought of using bridges as a metaphor.  Suddenly, we knew we were on the right track.

After considerable fine-tuning of the concept, we began to search for masterworks that could relate to our new theme. What are masterworks? you ask. These are productions of well-known art, music, poetry, dance, or drama that we (the P.S. ARTS faculty and staff) recognize as masterpieces and that we believe are important for our students to study.

For our visual arts masterpiece, our Teaching Artists and Education & Programs staff chose Chicano Park Bridge.

Chicano Park is a 32,000 square meter (7.9 acre) park located beneath the San Diego–Coronado Bridge.  The park is home to the country’s largest collection of outdoor murals as well as various sculptures, earthworks, and an architectural piece dedicated to the cultural heritage of the community. Created by a community of artists, the park is an incredible example of how collaboration can transform something functional and invasive (the bridge) into a work of art.

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The winning music masterwork was “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel.

This choice was pretty much unanimous for our Music Teaching Artists! Not only is this song a classic, but it also speaks beautifully to the idea of overcoming obstacles together.

For a literary masterwork, we chose two pieces, one for our older students, “The Bridge Builder” by Will Allen Dromgoole, and one for our younger students, “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” A Norwegian Fairytale, in hopes that they will be inspired to explore the themes of selflessness, bravery, and courage that we found to be so inspiring in these stories.

“This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

trollbridge2Between our acquisition of Inside Out Community Arts and the expansion of our programming to an additional 5,000 students, the 2014-2015 school year is sure to be one full of excitement, and I can’t think of a better theme to encompass the growth of our organization as we begin our 24th year!

My First Month as a P.S. ARTS Intern

Emma Gerch, IOCA Summer Intern

By Emma Gerch, LACAC Intern for Inside Out Community Arts

Hey P.S. ARTS community! I’m Emma, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Intern for Inside Out Community Arts. As some of you may know, P.S. ARTS recently acquired IOCA, so I now have the pleasure of working with both organizations this summer. I’m excited to blog about my learning curve in arts education and nonprofit development this summer.  I’m a rising senior (yikes!) at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, working toward a sociology major with a film production minor. On my commute to the P.S. ARTS office, I enjoy listening to This American Life podcasts and young adult books on tape. After work, I train as a competitive Irish dancer and will be going to the North American Nationals in Montreal this week (yikes again)! In the future, I want to work in education in some capacity, while also engaging my love for visual arts and media production – goals that drew me to my internship here.

The P.S. ARTS office is an aesthetically pleasing place to work - even the puppies think so!

The P.S. ARTS office is an aesthetically pleasing place to work – even the puppies think so!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first month working for P.S. ARTS, specifically with the Inside Out program, it’s that the important work of an arts education nonprofit is much deeper and more complex than a final performance or even one art class. Before the Teaching Artists can make educational strides with students, there is data to enter, conference calls to make, art supplies to organize, and a hundred little things to coordinate. Every small step and detail is essential to bringing effective and engaging programs to schools that need them.

IOCA Intern Summer 2014

My corner of the office.

At our staff meeting last week I presented the first of my completed projects – a student feedback report for Inside Out’s spring program. Students in the Inside Out Community Arts after-school theater program this past semester completed surveys before the program started and after it ended. Students were asked to rate how strongly they agreed with statements like “I have self confidence,” “I can write a play,” “I like to sing,” etc. During the program, students that said they could overcome stage fright increased by 27%, students that said that they felt good about being unique increased by 15%, and students that said they could make friends with kids from other neighborhoods increased by 12%. These are just some highlights. As a sociology major, I find all kinds of human-related data interesting, and it was both fascinating and encouraging to quantify the improvements made in the program. It’s also satisfying to know that the numbers I compiled might inspire others to support Inside Out and P.S. ARTS programs in coming years.

IOCA Summer Intern 2014

Middle school students in Inside Out’s School Project perform “Gangs in the Neighborhood,” an original play.

Every day in the office is productive and informative, and I’m looking forward to participating in the development of P.S. ARTS and Inside Out programs for the rest of the summer. Coming up, I’m putting the finishing touches on videos from the Inside Out final performances and developing curriculum for the Teen Media Initiative program. Come back to hear more on my intern experience!

Our Spring 2014 Fundraising Recap

Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

By Chelsea Martell, Events Coordinator

P.S. ARTS has been hard at work this past spring raising funds to provide crucial arts education programs for children in our community.  It’s been an exciting season filled with art, shopping, and handbags, and it’s been a pleasure working with so many of you on making these events come to life!

LA Modernism Opening Night Party

One of P.S. ARTS’ biggest fundraisers, the LA Modernism Opening Night Party, was held on April 25th and we surpassed our fundraising goal – more than $200K for our arts education programs. This was the first year LA Modernism was held at 3Labs in the Hayden Tract district of Culver City. 3Labs is a completely renovated former umbrella factory and now an incredibly contemporary state-of-the-art event space that was the perfect setting for our Opening Night Party.

At the event we set up a merchandise booth with P.S. ARTS swag and a slideshow featuring our students and facts about our organization. We also had a very tasty candy bar donated by Sugared LA and a live magician, Arthur Trace.

LA Modernism 2014LA Modernism 2014LA Modernism 2014P.S. ARTS Presents LA Modernism Opening Night

Inside the venue, our guests had the opportunity to create an Eduardo Kobra-inspired art project and take pictures at The Bosco LA Modernism Photo Booth.

Below is a picture of our staff. Clearly lots of fun was had!

The Bosco Photo Booth

P.S. ARTS is truly grateful for the hard work and generosity of the exhibitors, producers, organizers, advertisers, Host, Collector, Design and Event Committees, as well as everyone who contributed to the success of this event.  We’re also very thankful to our Presenting Sponsor, Jaguar Land Rover, as well as Event Chairs Jeffrey Alan Marks and Lisa Bowles from ROARK modern for supporting P.S. ARTS and arts education. The LA Modernism Opening Night Party is an incredible event that brings together many talents and P.S. ARTS is very thankful to be part of such an amazing evening!

Check out our Facebook album of LA Modernism Opening Night.

Super Saturday

P.S. ARTS took part in the excitement of Super Saturday on May 17th at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).  Super Saturday, a longstanding fundraiser in the Hamptons and a first-time event in LA this year, has been considered the “Rolls Royce of garage sales,” featuring many booths from stellar brands such as Versace, James Perse, Hudson Jeans, Trina Turk, Rachel Pally, and more. All products at the event were marked 30-50% off and proceeds went to OCRF. The event also featured experience booths such as Honest Co. and the Pet Park, and of course P.S. ARTS! Our organization was hired as a vendor to provide a children’s area with eight art booths inspired by those we put on at Express Yourself. Thank you to our friends at OCRF for having us be part of your inaugural LA event!

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The 11th Annual Bag Lunch

We wrapped up the month of May with our final signature fundraiser of the school year, Bag Lunch, hosted by celebrity stylists and P.S. ARTS board members Elizabeth Stewart and George Kotsiopoulos. This event raises vital funds through ticket sales and a silent auction on designer handbags. Thank you to all of the companies and generous donors who contributed bags to be auctioned in the name of arts education, as well as all of the guests who made this year’s event another success. We raised nearly $150,000 for our programs!

Every year this event is hosted at a different venue, and this year we were so grateful for the generosity of hosts Janet Crown and Steve Robinson. Their stunning home filled with incredible art was the perfect setting for our Bag Lunch event.

Below are some of the amazing purses that were available for auction.

Bag Lunch 2014

Thank you to Michele Gan of Serves You Right! Catering and Pressed Juicery for the hard work you put into catering our event.

Check out more pictures from Bag Lunch on our Facebook album.

On to the next one… Save the date for Taste of Venice on September 14th, 2014!  We look forward to seeing you at our exciting fundraising events next school year!

Hey, Remember That Time P.S. ARTS Went To The White House?

Dr. Kristen Paglia, Executive Director of Education & Programs

By Dr. Kristen Paglia, Executive Director of Education & Programs

In honor of #ThrowBackThursday, I am sharing the phrase that has been giddily tossed around our office daily for the last three weeks: Hey, remember that time P.S. ARTS was invited to present our work at the White House?

President Obama and P.S. ARTS Student Nicholas Hernandez

President Barack Obama with P.S. ARTS Student Nicholas Hernandez, taken by Executive Director of Education & Programs Dr. Kristen Paglia.

On May 20th I, along with two P.S. ARTS students from Lucille Smith Elementary School in Lawndale, our Visual Arts Teaching Artist Benjamin Morales, and Lawndale Superintendent Ellen Dougherty, had the pleasure of attending the White House STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) Fair hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.  This Fair, which also featured an art-focused talent show, celebrated the accomplishments of the federal Turnaround Arts initiative and announced the launch of Phase Two of the project.  The Turnaround Arts initiative is an arts-based school reform effort designed to turnaround some of the lowest performing schools in the country. Due to the substantial success of the initiative, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is expanding Turnaround Arts across the country, including ten California schools, making our state the largest affiliate.  The California Arts Council and a cohort of dedicated arts and education foundations have committed resources to support the Turnaround Efforts in California, which will be led by former chairperson of the CAC and powerful advocate for the arts Malissa Shriver.

P.S. ARTS has been providing visual arts education in one of the newly inaugurated Turnaround Arts California schools, Avenal Elementary, for almost a decade through the generosity of Roll Global LLC.  We are thrilled for the infusion of additional resources and support from the Turnaround Arts initiative that will, undoubtedly, increase the benefits of arts education for individual students, as well as improve the climate and elevate the performance of the school overall.  The Turnaround Arts initiative provides a rare opportunity for arts specialists and service providers to work closely with classroom teachers, school administrators, parents, and other community stakeholders.  We are always better together.

I think Ms. Shriver conveyed the beauty of this collective impact in her explanation of why Turnaround works…

Here is a recipe for success. Take a failing elementary school, invest time and treasure in professional development, help them develop a strategic plan; assist them in maximizing their budget with expert technical assistance.  Bring in the non-profit arts providers, credentialed specialists, teaching artists, universities, the local community, and parents.  To top it all off, add in a famous artist – as a mentor, as an advocate, and to bring in the media… As John Dewey said, what the best and wisest person wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and unchecked, destroys our democracy. (Source)

Standing alongside our team of P.S. ARTS representatives, including our two fourth grade students ready to talk geometry with some very serious looking adults at the White House, I got a true sense of the power of this endeavor.  During a surprise visit to the Fair, the President spoke to the importance of the arts in education (and, indeed, to the fabric of our society), and I was overwhelmed with pride and a sense of deep responsibility in being a partner in Turnaround Arts.  The moment that cemented my commitment forever, though, came a few seconds later when the President of the United States put his arm around the 10-year-old young man in our care and, in acknowledgement of the creative work he and all the other children at the event had accomplished, said, “Don’t ever forget, you are an awesome kid!”

You can see it all in the look on his face.  Somehow, someway every kid needs to feel that feeling.  This is what we strive for at P.S. ARTS.

Theater Arts Camp and Performance: A Look at Inside Out Community Arts

Lauren Deck, IOCA Programs Coordinator

Written by Lauren Deck, Inside Out Community Arts Programs Coordinator

We are pleased to introduce our first blog post about the Inside Out Community Arts program.  Last month, more than one hundred creative individuals including actors, visual artists, poets, storytellers, dancers, and musicians gathered for a weekend camping retreat in the Santa Monica Mountains.  These talented and motivated artists rehearsed original plays, created sets, hiked, swam, drummed, and told stories around the campfire and performed for their peers in the natural beauty of Southern California.

If you’re like me, that sounds like a dream vacation.  However, this retreat was not for adult artists; it was specifically tailored to support seventy-five middle school youth participants from Los Angeles and Compton who were enrolled in a program led by Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA).  IOCA’s flagship program The School Project, is an after-school program that teaches theater arts and social/emotional skills to youth participants from underserved communities.  This arts learning and skill development is then applied in a group play creation process during the second half of the program.  Students are led in discussions and consensus voting to determine topics that address the most immediate and pertinent challenges in their lives.  They co-create original plays about the issues they vote on and examine possible resolutions.  Each spring session of The School Project includes a 3-day camping retreat where youth participants get a chance to explore their play topics more deeply, finalize scripts, rehearse, and perform for one another.  The culmination of the session features a performance of their original plays in a professional theater for friends, family, teachers, and community members.

1. Mimi-Students

At this year’s camping retreat, students from John Adams (LAUSD, South LA), Whaley (CUSD, Compton) and Washington Irving (LASUD, Glassell Park) Middle Schools came together to continue creating and rehearsing their six original short plays on the topics of romance, gangs, hypocrisy, friendship, popularity, and finding support to make your dreams come true.

To provide more history on the program’s start in public schools, we go back to the early 1990’s when a group of artists, led by Jonathan Zeichner and Camille Ameen, banded together to come up with solutions in response to the violence of the Los Angeles Riots.  This group of professionals, still growing and now known as IOCA’s Artist Leaders, came from visual and performing arts sectors and the entertainment industry.  Collectively, they wanted to share their creative talents and leadership with young people in an after-school setting. They were all in agreement that The School Project’s particular methodology of teaching theater arts had the power to unite youth across conflicted territories and transform them into active and responsible citizens.   Almost twenty years later, the program continues to contribute to positive change in the lives of young people in underserved communities.  It provides a safe space and structure where students can connect to one another positively while developing their artistic skills to creatively give voice to their concerns and experiences.  The results are plays that share strong messages with solutions for issues in their lives.

An overnight cabin camping event soon became a major component of the program, and served as a tool for teaching conflict resolution and community building in a neutral setting.  In addition to enrolling in IOCA’s after-school program, students from diverse middle schools across LA County retreat annually during the spring session into the wilderness, where they to continue their process of creating, learning, and working as peer teams. Removed from the city and the daily challenges they face at school, in their neighborhoods and often at home, the students have the chance to accept each other and themselves, try new things, work on art, and bond as a large creative community – all while adhering to the IOCA “Low Down” of having courage, respect, and accountability.

2. boyGaze

The Artist Leaders who teach the after-school program also serve as camp counselors. Every Artist Leader is well prepared, having completed at least twenty hours of training with IOCA, where they learn methodology, leadership, and best practices for co-teaching the organization’s award-winning and nationally recognized theater arts curriculum.  Artist Leaders and staff are additionally trained in child safety and reporting, conflict resolution, and classroom management.

Middle school students and Artist Leaders work in a 6:1 ratio at all IOCA workshops and events.  This is especially important at the camping retreat so that each student is well supported and supervised.  For many young people, this trip is a first time away from home and out of the city and to be in nature and to visit the ocean.

Former IOCA participants who are in high school and college form the Alumni Mentor Program and play a major role in supporting the event.  They set-up for activities, lead games and share stories, serve as assistant cabin leaders, help with costumes and props, and provide extra support to visually impaired students and others with special needs.

3. GirlsPerform

After camp, back in the city at their respective schools, the students then continue to rehearse their original 12-minute plays in preparation for a free public culminating performance.

This year’s spring culminating performance, titled “What’s On Our Minds,” was held on Saturday, May 17th at the Aratani / Japan America Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.  It was a successful evening where the youth actors/playwrights shared their hopes, dreams, and fears on a professional stage to an audience of friends, family, and public supporters.

We look forward to seeing you in the audience at future original youth productions as IOCA enthusiastically joins forces with P.S. ARTS.


An original play about young relationships and romance, by students from Washington Irving Middle School. Directed by Bill Coelius and Mimi Bogale.

2. JenniferJaime_FriendshipAdams

An original play about how friendship can be supportive and challenging, by students from John Adams Middle School. Directed by Jennifer Browne and Jaime Reichner.

An original play about hypocrisy, by students from Washington Irving Middle School. Directed by Thomas Callahan and Cleo Anderson.

An original play about hypocrisy, by students from Washington Irving Middle School. Directed by Thomas Callahan and Cleo Anderson.

4. LoganRolando-GangsWhaley

An original play about gangs and dangerous neighborhoods, by students from Whaley Middle School. Directed by Logan Johnson and Rolando Zee.

5. JasmineKenneth_Popularity-Adams

An original play about school popularity, by students from John Adams Middle School. Directed by Jasmine Orpilla and Kenneth Rudnicki.

An original play about school popularity, by students from John Adams Middle School. Directed by Jasmine Orpilla and Kenneth Rudnicki.

An original play about finding support to make your dreams come true, by students from Whaley Middle School. Directed by Goreti da Silva and Ana Ruth Castillo.

Here are pictures and play topics from the culminating production on May 17th, 2014!


 All photos in this post were taken by Amy Knutson, P.S. ARTS Education & Programs Assistant.  Thank you Amy!