Periodically Curating Los Angeles publishes guest posts that highlight an interesting facet of life in greater LA. While they can focus on people, organizations, and places, among other subjects, what I look for is an article with a LA focus that engages me personally. Today I’m pleased to present an original piece written exclusively for Curating Los Angeles concerning arts education in the city. Enjoy!
Guest post by Diane Brigham, Executive Director of Ryman Arts
Everyone knows Los Angeles is an arts mecca. On any given day, Angelenos can stop by the Getty, spend a day at LACMA, or catch a show at the Pantages.
We’re surrounded by art at every turn, but how can Angelenos further connect with art throughout the community? How can we learn about art to deepen our understanding of the world-class treasures that surround us, and where can we develop our own creative talents?
While schools have a key responsibility to provide art education to every K-12 student, many families want more. And the desire to pursue our own creative impulses doesn’t stop when we graduate high school.
Fortunately, Los Angeles is home to a myriad of opportunities for arts education. Throughout the city, community art organizations, museums, and college campuses offer a range of programs that provide the opportunity to try something new, or deepen skills sets with master teaching artists.
The benefits of art education go beyond the specific skills being taught. For students, the act of engaging in art can increase academic performance and strengthen critical thinking skills. Beyond academia, arts education enhances quality of life, with benefits extending into participants’ careers, family lives, and hobbies.
Arts education also plays a major role in creating thriving and culturally diverse communities. The concept of “creative placemaking” in the U.S., through which communities throughout the nation foster artistic and cultural endeavors in order to shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, has fueled a newfound appreciation for how arts education can impact a city, and the communities within that city.
In Los Angeles, this impact is certainly seen and felt today. Many local organizations offer the opportunity for artists to hone their craft, or for those with no artistic background to try their hand at interactive arts education.
Ryman Arts, for example, is a regional community organization that offers a rigorous, talent-based art program for high school students, giving them the foundational skills needed for a career in the arts at no cost to the students or their families. Over its 25 year history, thousands of young artists have graduated, many have become professional artists, and all of them poised for personal success and imbued with a lifetime passion for art.
In addition, Ryman Arts partners with scores of other community groups from libraries to museums to present an annual festival called The Big Draw LA, which takes place every October and offers Los Angeles residents and visitors a series of free art-making activities through which they can enhance their skills, connect with their community, and have fun.
By participating in these events and programs, Los Angeles students and community members come together in a way that helps to cultivate social and cultural engagement by encouraging public dialogue and interaction.
Active arts participation by the public creates more livable, vibrant communities and adds economic value. Creative Placemaking, a recent paper from the National Endowment for the Arts, notes that opportunities for public arts participation “animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.”
The fact is, the accessibility of arts education in Los Angeles has long been a major part of this City’s energy and character. When we foster artistic education for all, the people of Los Angeles connect in new ways, creative potential is unleashed, and Los Angeles becomes a more dynamic city for all of us.
Diane Brigham is the Executive Director of Ryman Arts, a Los Angeles based, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to fostering the artistic talent of young teens throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Contact her at DBrigham@ryman.org.