Meet the Newest Additions to Our P.S. ARTS Team!

This has certainly been an exciting year for P.S. ARTS. Following our recent merge with Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA) this past spring, we have been graced with a few fresh faces: Lora Cawelti – Program Coordinator, Lauren Deck – Senior Program Coordinator and Lui Sanchez – Associate Director of Programs for IOCA. Due to our quick growth, we were also very happy to welcome two additional members: Jacob Campbell – Operations Assistant and Christopher Lor – Financial Analyst.

While we have definitely had some time to get to know and love our newest personnel, we thought it would be great for you to learn some fun facts about them, as well (you can also feel free to peruse each of their bios)!

Lora Cawelti, Program CoordinatorLora Cawelti, Program Coordinator

Q. Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
A. At P.S. ARTS I am the program coordinator for SMMUSD. I help provide unique arts programming that is custom designed by each school. This district is really exciting because they have made the decision to give the same quality arts education in all eleven schools.

Q. What book is currently on your night stand?
A. My Nook is on my night stand. I am obsessed with impulse buying books while I sit in bed; it’s like having a library at my fingertips and I love it! I am working on reading the Game of Thrones series, but am so constantly distracted by other books, it’ll probably take me years to finish!

Q. What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
A. There’s never any one song. Mostly I’m a public radio junky and I love the The Opera Show on Saturday mornings on KUSC.

A. Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
I love the Getty Villa because it feels like you’ve been transported to Europe, but my most favorite is the Music Center because it is alive with opera, musicals, theaters, and it reminds me of my earliest theater experiences as a kid in the LA area. Oooohhh, the Hollywood Bowl — It’s the best — being in the peaceful quiet of the outdoors while in the middle of the city.

Q. What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
A. Eleanor Roosevelt

Lauren Deck, Senior Program CoordinatorLauren Deck, Senior Program Coordinator

Q. Please briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
A. Lauren Deck, I am a visual artist and have worked in the non-profit sector as an instructor and administrator for ten years. I am a new Senior Program Coordinator, and will be administering three main areas for P.S. ARTS – art classrooms in Lawndale and Wiseburn elementary schools in the Centinela Valley, Inside Out Community Arts which is a specialized after-school theatre arts program for middle school students, and a high school after-school program, Teen Media Initiative, that teaches design, online technology and career skills.

Q. What book is currently on your nightstand?
A. I am currently reading Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Q. What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
A. Dido’s  “Let Us Move On” featuring Kendrick Lamar

Q. Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
A. The Getty because it combines many things I love – paintings, photography, sculpture, installations, gardens, incredible views, and architecture. I also love taking dance classes at Your Neighborhood Studio in Culver City.

Q. What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
A. Andrew Goldsworthy – a British artist and environmentalist who works in outdoor locations to create temporary installations using only the materials he finds on site. His pieces take tedious hours or days to complete, and then wash away with the tide, wind, rain or snow. When I look at photographs of his beautifully engineered work, I am reached on a deep level about the many life cycles that his art represents.

Lui Sanchez, Associate Director of ProgramsLui Sanchez, Associate Director of Programs, Inside Out Community Arts

Q. Please briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
A. Lui Sanchez. Associate Director of Programs, Inside Out Community Arts

Q. What book is currently on your nightstand?
A. The Play that Changed My Life. (Plays that influenced American Playwrights) as well as Tennessee Williams: Plays Volume I and II

Q. What is your favorite food dish?
A. Hmmm, I’ll say broiled chicken drumsticks with jasmine, pepper, and garlic salt – always a good protein pick-me-up warm or cold.

Q. Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
A. Skid Row – a very exact theatre experience.

Q. What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
A. Pancho Villa, Ella Fitzgerald when they were about 16 – 17 years old. What was in their eyes?

Jacob Campbell, Operations AssistantJacob Campbell, Operations Assistant

Q. Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
A. My name is Jacob Campbell and I am the new Operations Assistant at P.S. ARTS! I graduated from UCLA in 2013 with a degree in World Arts & Cultures/Dance and minor in Visual and Performing Arts Education, and spent the past year teaching English to second graders in Madrid, Spain. In the summer of 2011, I worked as the Programs Intern at P.S. ARTS, and I am so excited to be back on the team, this time focusing on supporting the Operations side of the organization.

Q. What book is currently on your nightstand?
A. I’m on David Sedaris kick right now! I loved his most recent book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, but I’m currently finishing up a copy of his older book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim that I picked up from a book exchange at a hostel in Oporto, Portugal. His books are hilarious!

Q. What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
A. “Whispers” by Passenger

Q. Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
A. Well…I’m a little biased, but I love to see dance performances at UCLA! I also live in Long Beach and everyday on my way to work I drive over the Vincent Thomas Bridge and all the colorful shipping containers and the bright green bridge make me feel like I’m driving through a giant public art installation!

Q. What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
A. Bob Fosse!

Christopher Lor, Financial AnalystChristopher Lor, Financial Analyst

Q. Briefly introduce yourself and explain your new position at P.S. ARTS.
A. My name is Christopher Lor, I am working as a Financial Analyst at P.S. ARTS. This position mostly deals with the company’s financials.

Q. What book is currently on your nightstand?
A. Currently I have a book called げんき or ‘Genki’ on my table; it is a college textbook used for learning Japanese. Whenever I have the chance, I try to study it in hopes of visiting Japan one day, and so I will be able to communicate with the locals. Note to self: replace Japanese textbook with zombie survival guide.

Q. What is currently the most played song on your iPod?
A. Mono – Kidnapper Bell

Q. Where is your favorite place to view or take part in art in Los Angeles?
A. One of my favorite places to view art in Los Angeles is actually my hometown at Echo Park. There is a lot of interesting graffiti that usually stays up for a few days then gets removed and updated. Also, there are beautiful murals that were painted by families from the community. I actually went to grade school with one of the family members who painted the mural that I always pass by when I am heading home.

Q. What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?
A. I would take Robert Downey Jr. out for coffee or tea because he is one of my many man crushes. I feel that he would be a very interesting person to have a conversation with.

Thank You to Our P.S. ARTS Community!

Jennifer Leitch, Development Officer


Thanksgiving-Arts-and-Crafts-for-Kindergarten-4In the spirit of Thanksgiving, all of us at P.S. ARTS would like to express our sincere appreciation to our friends, volunteers and supporters. This has been a banner year filled with many magic moments, and a great number of you have contributed to our success. It is with great pride and gratitude that we thank our Teaching Artists for their talent and contagious enthusiasm in the classroom; our partner schools for their commitment to arts education; our contributors for their generosity and encouragement, and finally, our students for their creativity and willingness to learn.

This year, we would also like to extend a special thank you to Inside Out Community Arts. Your trust and confidence in our merger has meant a great deal to us, and we are so grateful to have you as partners in our pursuit of a well-rounded education for public school students. You have brought a greater sense of community to our combined organization, strengthening our reach and mission. We look forward to a successful year ahead.

Once again, thank you to all of our friends and supporters; we wish you a heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving!

Behind the Scenes of Express Yourself 2014

Jacob Campbell, Operations Assistant


Last Sunday, the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport was filled to the roof with bright colors, tasty food, and smiling children and families as they explored the amazing arts activities at P.S. ARTS’ 17th annual Express Yourself! The team here at P.S. ARTS could not be more proud of the event and grateful to all of the amazing participants, sponsors, and volunteers that brought it to life. This year, we surpassed our fundraising goal, which allows us to continue to provide high-quality arts education to our 20,000 P.S. ARTS students each week. We want to give all of our guests and supporters a heartfelt thank you!

It was so neat to get a behind-the-scenes look at all the hard work that makes this event such a success. I spend a lot of time here in the office designing collateral and marketing materials, and it was incredibly rewarding to see how each person contributed different elements to make one cohesive and exciting event. I have to give a special shout out to our friends at Office Depot (Manhattan Beach), Westside Print Center, and Marina Graphics for doing such a great job printing our Express Yourself materials, and to Taylor Swift for providing the sweet jams at our framing party. You guys rock!

While this wasn’t my first Express Yourself (I volunteered about 3 years ago in my intern days!), it was my first time wearing the “official” fanny-pack/radio headset combo and walking around making sure everything ran smoothly. My favorite new additions to the event this year were: ArtHaus (for Express Yourself veterans), which was decked out in disco balls and offered teens an instagram-inspired frame project and henna tattos; our Social Media Booth with charging stations to ensure everyone had enough battery life for all their Express Yourself-related posts; and Toddler Town, complete with a giant tee-pee custom made for the event by Blaine Halvorson, Demetrius May, and Janis Wales.

PSARTSExpressYourself2014-_EKL4542This year, we had three beautiful mural projects each created in collaboration with an artist–two with renowned street artist RETNA and the other with our very own Teaching Artist Tiffany Graham, whose community mural project at Juan Cabrillo Elementary inspired the design elements of this year’s event. Each artist first outlined the mural, after which every child gave it their own personal touch. RETNA generously donated his murals to P.S. ARTS to be auctioned at the end of the event! Additionally, thanks to Adam and Connie Derry, all proceeds from the ADBD x P.S. ARTS merchandise line at Express Yourself will go towards the creation of a second community mural in the Wiseburn School District!

P.S. ARTS Presents Express Yourself 2014 photo 1(3)Overall, Express Yourself 2014 was a huge success and we hope our guests enjoyed it as much as we did! See you next year!

Students & Families Tap into Their Super Powers at Inside Out’s Family Workshop

By Jaime Reichner, inside out community arts artist leader

IMG_0748(2)Last month, as the fall sessions began at Dana, Will Rogers, and Prairie Vista Middle Schools, Inside Out Community Arts marked an exciting milestone: our first official session as a program of P.S. ARTS. Our workshops began in mid-September, and we are now entering the second half of our 20-week program, where students devise and write original plays based on issues of importance to them, their schools, communities, and the world at large.

A couple of weeks ago, all three schools held Family Workshops where students, parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends participated in an afternoon of theater games, providing families a unique opportunity to experience what we do at Inside Out alongside their children.

Every workshop in our curriculum is special and has been designed thoughtfully to target specific theater arts and conflict resolution skills. For me, the Family Workshop is a highlight! (So much so, that in 2011, I chose to write about it for my personal statement on my graduate school application.)


We begin our Family Workshops as we do our regular program sessions: in a circle. After a brief introduction by Artist Leaders and staff, we take the participants and their families through one of the lessons of our curriculum. At Dana Middle School, we chose the “Heroes” workshop. Participants were asked to identify positive qualities in themselves, dream up a superhero alter ego embodying that power and develop a concrete way in which they can use that attribute to make a positive change at home and in their community.

There is something tremendously brave about standing up in a circle of unfamiliar faces and sharing a part of yourself. We ask this of our students on the first day, and it’s incredible to see them model for their families the courage they’ve cultivated over a few short weeks. Our “Inside Out Lowdown” is always visibly displayed: Respect, Courage, and Accountability. The students agree to these guidelines on day one. At the Family Workshop, we see students encourage their sometimes-shy parents to -1participate and share in the joy of watching families interact and play together. It’s remarkable to witness parents deepen their understanding of what their son or daughter (or brother or sister) has been learning.

At Dana, Will Rogers, and Prairie Vista, we had almost 80 participants that included parents, siblings (from two years old to teenagers), cousins, and friends. Students will often describe Inside Out as so much more than just an after-school program. “Inside Out is like a family,” I hear students say each year. Having been a part of the Inside Out Community for the last seven years, I wholeheartedly agree.

**Mark your calendars now for Inside Out Community Arts’ fall performances on November 22nd at the Aratani/Japan America Theatre from 7pm-9pm.

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More information coming soon!**

CAA & City Year Join P.S. ARTS for Halloween Art & Campus Beautification Day

Knutson, Amy.Edited.Cropped


1920259_10152917868577697_2457668814352197788_nEarlier this month, 65 Creative Artists Agency (CAA) employees volunteered their Saturday at Coeur D’Alene Elementary School for a day of campus beautification and art projects with students. P.S. ARTS has provided arts education programming to Coeur D’Alene since 1992, and for the last five years, we’ve partnered with CAA to produce this day-long event!

Each year, P.S. ARTS provides students and volunteers with a number of art projects they can create together. Inspired by the start of the fall season, the P.S. ARTS Programs team developed five autumn-themed art projects including sculptures based on Louise Bourgeois’ work and drawings based on the work of Georgia O’Keeffe.

We had so much fun developing these projects (and the students enjoyed them so much) that we wanted to make them available as To Go! Projects. P.S. ARTS offers To Go! Projects to encourage students and their families to continue creating art at home. We strive to provide projects that require minimal supervision and that use supplies students might already have. No expertise is required – just a willingness to be creative!


If you like these To Go! Projects, please check out our To Go! Page where we have more available!

Art projects included:


In addition to the art projects, the national service organization City Year joined us for CAA Day. With the help of the CAA volunteers, City Year members built new hopscotch and four-square courts on the Coeur d’Alene blacktop – an addition to the campus the students will enjoy throughout the whole year. We want to send a warm and special thank you to both the CAA Foundation and City Year for making this such a fun and successful day!


P.S. ARTS to be Honored at Americans for the Arts “National Arts Awards” for its Contributions to the Advancement of Arts Education

By Megan Strawther, Development & Communications Associate
In Cooperation With The Herb Alpert Foundation

Venice, CA ­– P.S. ARTS has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Americans for the Arts “Arts Education Award” and will be honored at the National Arts Awards on October 20th in New York City. According to Americans for the Arts, the country’s leading arts advocacy organization, this event recognizes and celebrates the contributions and accomplishments of national leaders who are advancing the arts in the United States. Accepting the award on the organization’s behalf are Chairperson Joshua B. Tanzer and Co-Executive Directors Dr. Kristen Paglia and Amy Shapiro.

Students performing at the 2014 TakePART Festival, a free family-friendly event that celebrates the arts in Centinela Valley.

Students performing at the 2014 TakePART Festival, a free family-friendly event that celebrates the arts in Centinela Valley.

P.S. ARTS, a nonprofit arts education organization serving more than 20,000 children in Southern and Central California, was chosen to receive the award for its exemplar program model and its contributions to the public education reform movement. Along with its school-improvement programs that include classroom studios, extended learning, and community engagement, P.S. ARTS takes an active role in state and national public educational policy conversation and serves as a model of how arts teaching and learning can improve school performance. P.S. ARTS was also honored earlier this year by the First Lady at the White House STEAM Fair for its demonstration of integrating the arts into core curriculum.

“We are extremely proud of this well deserved honor that Americans for the Arts is bestowing on P.S. ARTS this year,“ says Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation. “This award recognizes the remarkable role that P.S. ARTS plays in providing access to the arts in underserved public schools and communities. As a unique organization and stellar model for others, P.S. ARTS has had tremendous impact helping thousands of children to overcome economic and literacy barriers through experiencing high-quality, sustained, and integrated arts programs in the classroom.”

One of P.S. ARTS’ primary accomplishments includes the facilitation of the TakePART Initiative, a five-district arts collaborative in the Centinela Valley that is funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation. Through this initiative, regional service providers, community organizations, funders, and the Centinela Valley Union High School, Hawthorne, Lawndale Elementary, Lennox, and Wiseburn school districts have worked together to provide crucial arts education experiences in these underserved communities.

“P.S. ARTS is providing measurable success for our students, 20,000 strong, not just in arts development, but in ways that include creative problem solving, collaboration, and communication with peers,” says Chairperson Joshua B. Tanzer. “We are not expressly developing artists, but rather productive and self-motivated citizens for our communities.”