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A rotating panel of experts will provide commentary on topics related to the creative economy. We encourage readers to respond and share their thoughts.

Laura Zucker, Executive Director, Los Angeles County Arts Commission

Access to Arts Education – If we don't provide it here, where?

As the Otis Report on the Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region points out, the creative industries are the fourth largest employer in L.A. County. From museums to art galleries, from the performing arts to the entertainment industry, and from graphic to toy design, one out of eight regional jobs was in the creative economy last year. Arts educators alone represented 10,000 jobs in the creative sector.

And yet when Arts for All, the County-wide arts education collaboration spearheaded by the Arts Commission, received the results of its School Arts Survey in 2009, the results were surprising. The survey, which measured quality, access and equity in arts education across 100 schools in five school districts with a high commitment to the arts, found that in the majority of schools the arts curriculum doesn't include real-life applications that prepare students for postsecondary education, focused training and eventual employment.

This was evidence of the huge disconnect Sarah Murr talks about in her post. Since K-12 arts education is the pipeline to the creative economy, all students must have access to high quality education in dance, music, theatre and the visual arts, to not only learn skills, but acquire the ability to think innovatively, imaginatively, complexly, creatively.

The good news is that forty-nine of the county's 81 school districts have joined the Arts for All collaboration and are committed to fully integrating arts into the curriculum.

The bad news is that most teachers don't feel fully prepared to teach arts education in their classroom because they didn't receive a quality education in the arts themselves—a skipped generation.

To this end, Arts for All and the Los Angeles County Office of Education have developed a professional development series for superintendents and principals, "Teaching Creativity with the Core Curriculum," that is being offered in different regions of the county during the current school year.

We're also launching a program this winter to help school districts provide teachers with the training they need to be able to teach the arts. In partnership with The California Arts Project, over a three year period, school districts will use the School Arts Survey to identify areas of need, develop a plan to address and receive matching grants to provide professional development for teachers using partners approved for Arts for All's Programs for Educators directory. They'll also work together in learning communities to share and support each other. We'll keep you posted on what we learn.

As the creative capital of the world it's imperative that Los Angeles County provides high quality arts education for all our students. If we don't do it here, who will?

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