CREATE CA Convening January, 2015: Fostering a Renaissance in Arts Education for California Schools

Dr. Kristen Paglia, Executive Director of Education & Programs

BY DR. Kristen Paglia, ChiEf Executive Officer

Last month I had the pleasure of attending Destination: Creative Schools – From Blueprint to Action, hosted by CREATE CA at the Oakland School for the Arts. CREATE [Core Reforms Engaging the Arts to Education] CA is led by five leadership organizations, including: The California Alliance for Arts Education, CCSESA, California Department of Education, the California Arts Council, and the California State PTA. Five appointed individuals from the field also work to further the CREATE CA agenda to create “an educational environment for all California students that features arts education as a central part of the solution to the crisis in our schools,” a goal we obviously share at P.S. ARTS.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 1.48.12 PMThis gathering celebrated the debut of the CREATE CA publication, “A Blueprint for Creative Schools:  A Report to State Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson” (2015). I was honored to contribute to this document alongside 100 other professionals in the field, and I have to say that it was pretty exciting to see two years of intense discussion and hard work finally in print. Even better, though, was the call to action made by CREATE CA’s five organizational leaders… From Blueprint to Action! Admittedly, patience is not a virtue most people associate with me, and so I was pleased and relieved when it became clear that this convening was not going to be yet another strategy conversation or “visioning” session (not knocking visioning at all, just making a point that, in arts education, visioning is sometimes as far as we get).

Since its founding by Arts Education activist and recipient of the Americans for the Arts 2014 Arts Education Award, Malissa Shriver, the CREATE CA coalition has been about action. Even the term “blueprint” versus the much more commonly heard in arts education “plan,” indicate that this work is about building a foundation and moving toward a destination. This convening of leaders in the field reflected a restless tone – people who are on the ground and seeing the state of some of California’s failing schools and who know that the arts are key to overall school improvement. It isn’t good enough to meet Federal benchmarks stipulating a level of proficiency students cannot fall below. We can do better.


The underlying value of the CREATE CA coalition is that California should “ensure each student reaches his or her full potential by broadening California’s educational vision, policy, and practices to promote innovation, economic development, and creativity.” Full potential!  This is one of the core values and curriculum directives at P.S. ARTS. Every child – regardless of socioeconomic, language, cognitive-developmental, or any other barrier to learning – deserves a targeted education that supports his or her ability to succeed in school and beyond. I teach an entire course in the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture based on this specific standard for excellence in education.  That is, the arts are a flexible and effective tool for differentiating teaching practice, measuring progress accurately, and engaging students in school so that every child’s needs are met, even in highly diverse, crowded classrooms. The Oakland convening featured workshops and conversations focused on achieving a public education system with the arts and creativity at the center. Inspirational and strategic coaching keynote speakers included Bryonn Bain (Lyrics from Lockdown), Randy Nelson (Apple University), Sarah Crowell (Destiny Arts), and Michelle Lee (Youth Speaks).

So, Bravo! CREATE CA. I am looking forward to the work ahead. To learn more about where we are going in the arts education field and how we plan to get there, check out “A Blueprint for Creative Schools” at To learn more about the CREATE CA coalition, visit


Team P.S. ARTS Runner Profile: Matt MacFarland

The ASICS LA Marathon and LA Big 5K are just 3 weeks away! Follow #MarathonMonday to learn more about our amazing runners and why they are running for Team P.S. ARTS! This week, meet Teaching Artist Matt MacFarland:

blob-40b601fd4fcadb7bbbcc1052bba21ac9.I remember running in Middle School P.E. I was always one of the slowest runners; we MacFarlands tend not to be “fleet of foot” as they say.  Even my much more athletically gifted younger brother, Tyler, played sports as if his feet were stuck in pudding. I never liked running and I would do everything in my power to avoid it.

Something funny happened a few years ago when I started teaching Visual Arts with P.S. ARTS at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy.  Some of my students talked about how they were members of Students Run Los Angeles, a program that adequately trains a group of 7th and 8th graders to run the LA Marathon over the course of six months.  They talked about the sense of camaraderie and accomplishment they experienced in the program and how they found running to actually be enjoyable!  I found this hard to believe, but decided to cheer them on when they ran the LA Marathon later that year.

The day of the marathon, watching these kids that I cared about accomplishing something so challenging was overwhelmingly inspiring. They all finished, and when one student was hobbled by leg cramps, a couple of her friends hooked her arms and helped her cross the finish line.

I promised myself then that I would run a marathon in the next few years.  Even though I’ve had my hands full this year with a new baby boy, I’ve found running to be a fun release, a kind of meditative activity that helps some of the stress of being a new parent melt away.

I wish I could say that I’m running the marathon for my students, or for my wife and son, but it’s more accurate to say that I’m running it for myself — to see if I can really do it! I think that’s why most of my students are running it too; at least I hope so. There are very few things in life that are more satisfying than setting a seemingly impossible goal, applying a large chunk of your time and energy to it, competing against nobody but yourself, pushing yourself past preconceived limits, and ultimately achieving it.  I watch my students do this on a daily basis in my art class, and now I see them do it when they run and it never ceases to amaze and inspire me.

Over the last 20 years I’m proud to say I’ve taken a good 2 and a half minutes off my Middle School mile time, from 11:20/mi to 8:50/mi.  So, even though I’m still not quite “fleet of foot” I’m proud to say that I am officially no longer “slow” — and that’s something!

Support Matt & Team P.S. ARTS!

Inside Out Community Arts Mentor Natalie Resendiz on the “Encourage Creativity” series

An Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA) Mentor, Natalie Resendiz, was recently featured in the Americans for the Arts’ “Encourage Creativity” video series. We asked Natalie to share her experiences on this project, and we loved hearing about the process and her time as a student (and now mentor) in one of our programs!

P.S. ARTS: Describe your role as an IOCA Mentor; what motivated you to become a mentor?

Natalie: As an IOCA Mentor, I have had the chance to participate in play creation, workshops, and learning experiences that not many people my age get to have. When you’re a mentor you are the bridge between Artist Leaders and students. You are the center of what makes this a powerful program. When I was in my final year of The School Project (TSP), I was absolutely sure that I was not ready to leave; being a mentor allowed me to continue to gain valuable experiences from such a wonderful program.


P.S. ARTS: What is the “Encourage Creativity” series?

Natalie: The “Encourage Creativity” series is a set of four videos that aim to advocate for arts education. They strive to “inform your community, inspire your friends, and impact the world.” Take a look at the complete series HERE.

P.S. ARTS: How did you get involved?

IMG_6096Natalie: Kristen Engebretsen, who used to work with IOCA and now works for Americans for the Arts is my friend on social media. She said she really liked my energy in my Instagram videos and asked if I’d be interested in narrating a short video on the importance of arts education. It turned out that I was not only narrating – I would be starring in the video as well! We filmed at an elementary school in Santa Monica for 13 hours over two days. The process was entirely professional and as someone who doesn’t spend much time in front of a camera, this was beyond my wildest dreams. I could not believe that I was given an opportunity like this one simply because of my experiences with IOCA!

P.S. ARTS: What is the main thing you hope people will take away from this video?

Natalie: I hope that people understand that arts education really does help all those who participate. It’s not a myth; it’s real and it’s helpful. Art is meaningful and wonderful. I hope that those who want to be involved get involved! I hope others can use these videos as a resource to advocate for arts in their communities.

P.S. ARTS: How has being involved in IOCA impacted your life?

Natalie: When I was in the program, I wasn’t what many would consider a “troubled” student. I enjoyed school, I was outgoing and I did well in what I chose to participate in, but I didn’t exactly have what is considered an “easy” life. IOCA introduced me to a world that I didn’t know existed, which has helped me through some of the best and worst experiences of my life thus far; it has made me live an enriched life because I appreciate so much more as a result of what IOCA has taught me.

IOCA has always given me opportunities that I would have never imagined. The relationships I have created with my Artist Leaders, fellow Mentors, and our students are truly meaningful. I have been featured in blogs, in arts education videos, been in two musicals, received scholarships — I have even had a short play written about my life, all because of my time with IOCA. IOCA has given me a love that I will never lose: a family, I will always have and a life I have always deserved. 

Team P.S ARTS Runner Profile: Burke Walton

The ASICS LA Marathon and LA Big 5K are just 1 month away! Follow #MarathonMonday to learn more about our amazing runners and why they are running for Team P.S. ARTS! This week, meet Burke Walton:

BurkeWaltonI could not be more excited to be running my first marathon ever with Team P.S. ARTS. As a professional actor and singer, the arts are an enormous part of my life and were a very important part of my educational experience. Not only do the arts provide children with the ability to open their minds and unlock creativity in numerous ways, but they can open many doors down the road in a child’s life. It is uniquely special for me that I am supporting this great organization by running a marathon, because much of my childhood consisted of a wonderful balance between the arts and athletics. I truly believe this balance is so important in a child’s life because it opens their eyes to all the possibilities that the world has to offer.

P.S. ARTS is doing such great work at a time where the arts are unfortunately being overlooked in a lot of school districts and communities around the country. It is impossible for me to say what my life would be like without the arts! They were so important in my growth into adulthood and are still a huge part of my growth and character today. I am honored to be supporting and running 26.2 miles for such a wonderful cause. I hope that people continue to realize that the lack of support for the arts – especially for children – is a big problem, but one we can fix together!

Support Burke & Team P.S. ARTS!


Team P.S. ARTS Runner Profile: Zack Holland

The ASICS LA Marathon and LA Big 5K are just under 5 weeks away! Follow #MarathonMonday to learn more about our amazing runners and why they are running for Team P.S. ARTS! This week, meet Zack Holland:

zack_holland_presenterWhen asked to run for Team  P.S. ARTS, it was an easy decision. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I gladly accept any opportunity to share my passion for such an incredible organization.

I was first introduced to P.S. ARTS while working for my former employer and have since had the opportunity to work with them on several occasions. The brightness and positivity of the staff, the real world importance of their mission, and the happiness that their programs bring to children around Los Angeles stuck with me – and wasn’t easily shaken.

Thanks to those experiences with P.S. ARTS and my personal connections with artists here in Los Angeles, I left my day-job to create Angeleno Artistry in September 2014. Angeleno Artistry is an online platform designed to build the brands and celebrate the work of deserving Los Angeles paint and photography artists, while giving back to arts education. We feature five local artists a month, each with a unique, limited edition art print that helps fund arts education programs at P.S. ARTS. The opportunity to work with one of my favorite non-profits on a more intensive basis has been one of the most fulfilling and inspiring pieces of my life to this point.

Everyone knows the impressive statistics – over 20,000 students served in 10 school districts by 75 (and counting) Teaching Artists! –  but the most impressive moments I’ve experienced with P.S. ARTS have been witnessing the pure joy on the faces of the kids who create something for the first time, the happiness of the parents who sit down with their children and finger paint or build duct tape wallets, and the immense satisfaction my team has had after our days of volunteering with the organization.

In a city so separated and segmented by miles of freeways and open space, there are certain tenants of local culture that bring people and souls together; art, at any stage and level, is undeniably one of these. This is the reason that, while developing Angeleno Artistry, we felt that giving back to the city through arts education was one of the most integral and needed ways to contribute.

Starting a company is never easy – there are many things I would have done differently if I could rewind and rebuild – but developing a relationship and working with P.S. ARTS has been one of the fundamental aspects of Angeleno Artistry that I cherish and look forward to evolving.

- Zack Holland

Zack is the founder and CEO of Angeleno Artistry, the modern platform for Los Angeles paint and photography artists:

Support Zack and Team P.S. ARTS!


Dr. Kristen Paglia named CEO of P.S. ARTS

For Immediate Release


Venice, CA (January 28, 2015) – P.S. ARTS, a non-profit organization providing arts education to 20,000 children attending underserved public schools, today announced that the Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Kristen Paglia as the Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.  Dr. Paglia has served in a leadership role at P.S. ARTS for six years, most recently holding the title of Executive Director, Education & Programs.

“After a thorough selection process, we are very excited to welcome Kristi in this new capacity as CEO,” explains P.S. ARTS Board Chairperson, Joshua B. Tanzer. “With over two decades experience in the arts and public education, Dr. Paglia is well suited to lead the organization in this next phase of development and leadership in the field.”

Started 25 years ago in direct response to education budget cuts that resulted in the drastic elimination of arts programs in California public schools, P.S. ARTS developed from the vision of educator and Crossroads School founder Paul Cummins and funding from musician and philanthropist Herb Alpert. P.S. ARTS has been on a dramatic growth trajectory, incorporating fifteen new schools and acquiring the national award winning Inside Out Community Arts program in the last year alone. President of the Herb Alpert Foundation and P.S. ARTS board member, Rona Sebastian, expresses her enthusiasm for the organization’s progress, saying, “We acknowledge with deep gratification and pride how P.S. ARTS has evolved over these many years to become one of the nation’s premiere, ground-breaking arts instruction programs.”

Dr. Kristen Paglia, Executive Director of Education & Programs“I am honored to take on this leadership position at P.S. ARTS and believe that this role will provide an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in our approach to public education in the way we support young people in navigating the challenges of their daily lives, and prepare them to be the innovators and leaders of the future,” adds Dr. Paglia.

Dr. Paglia holds a doctorate in developmental psychology from Harvard University and is a sought after lecturer and professional consultant, lending her expertise to broad-scale arts education efforts such as the U.S. President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities Turnaround Arts initiative, and the development of the California Department of Education’s Blueprint for Creative Schools. Dr. Paglia also teaches courses at UCLA and Claremont Graduate University.

Dr. Paglia is looking forward to continuing the work that recently earned P.S. ARTS the honor of the national Americans for the Arts “Arts Education Award,” which recognizes and celebrates the contributions and accomplishments of national leaders who are advancing the arts in the United States.  In addition, P.S. ARTS, along with students from the Lucille J. Smith Elementary School in Lawndale, CA, was invited by the President of the United States’ Committee on the Arts and Humanities to model an exemplar art project that teaches 4th grade math concepts. First Lady Michelle Obama presided over the Fair, which showcased schools and arts organizations from across the country.

About P.S. ARTS

P.S. ARTS’ mission is to improve the lives of children by providing art education to underserved public schools and communities. It is the only organization in Southern and Central California that provides yearlong art education in dance, visual arts, music, and theatre arts to every child in a school during the regular school day. For more information, please visit

For information and inquiries, please contact:
Caroline Graham, C4 Global Communications | 310. 899.2727