LA Creates! Media Arts Learning Initiative
Media arts are LA’s most significant global contribution to arts and culture and the region’s leading economic driver. In the LA2050 Report, Arts and Cultural Vitality is the only indicator out of eight found to significantly enhance quality of life, earning the Report’s highest ranking. Yet, while noted economist Ann Markusen calls LA “America’s Artist Super City,” LA’s young people lack the access and opportunity to enter the creative industries. This is especially true for people of color, who make up 91% of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD Fingertip Facts, 11/12).
• The question: How do we ensure LA’s young people will develop creativity while gaining access to current & next-generation skills & tools?
• The answer: LA Creates! Media Arts Learning Initiative.
Media arts are particularly motivating to today’s digitally-connected youth. Media arts encompass art created with new media technologies, including digital moviemaking, computer graphics, computer animation, virtual art, interactive art, video games, & computer robotics. The core concept of LA Creates! is for students to develop technical & critical-thinking skills, integrating the arts into core subject areas, while unleashing creativity through media arts learning.
LA Creates! was developed by a consortium (the Consortium) headed by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (the Academy); LAUSD; The LA Fund for Public Education (LA Fund); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); & California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). We will be expanding to include UCLA’s School of the Arts & Architecture; School of Theater, Film, & Television; Hammer Museum; & Film Independent. LA Creates! will use the Report’s most positive indicator, Arts & Cultural Vitality, to address its lowest, Education. As the Report posits, educational achievement impacts all other indicators, from Income & Employment to Housing, Health, & Social Connectedness.
LA Creates! consists of three components:
•A pilot Digital Moviemaking Program will build on the work of two LAUSD middle schools, Millikan in the San Fernando Valley & Bancroft in Hollywood, which already have existing film academies. The two primary instructors from these schools will work with the Consortium to initiate similar programs in two to three middle schools in underserved LA communities in Year II. In subsequent years of the five-year pilot, two or more schools will be added annually. Working with the film industry to obtain in-kind equipment donations, as well as to make some purchases, LA Creates! will equip each school with a media arts lab with the cameras & computers necessary to create films/videos.
For LA Creates! elective course film teachers will work with generalist teachers of core subjects at each school, integrating the media arts to teach English, math, history, & the sciences. Students will learn how to tell personal & community stories, building Social Connectedness, another LA2050 indicator, while also strengthening competency in technical skills that will better prepare them to gain Employment, the second lowest ranked indicator.
•The Academy, known throughout the world for its Oscars© ceremony, is expanding its Media Literacy Program to a new 14,000 sq. ft. facility in Hollywood that will, in Year I: (1) involve 10 local schools in after-school programs, and (2) serve as a training center for LAUSD film and generalist teachers involved in the LAUSD Digital Moviemaking Program.
The Academy will involve its vast network of Academy members and industry professionals as guest teachers to inspire the students and help promote the program. The Academy will also work with the Consortium to develop a curriculum aimed at middle school students.
Studios such as Sony Pictures, with which DCA has had a 10-year partnership, the “Sony Pictures Media Arts Program,” which teaches middle school students animation in five centers around the City, donates state of the art equipment regularly. Sony will be asked to make similar donations to LA Creates!, as will other industry leaders.
•Finally, the goal of LA Creates! is to be integrated into a new LAUSD five-year strategic plan for arts education that is currently being developed by LAUSD’s Arts Education Branch with funding support from The LA Fund. After the initial five-year in-school pilot program is complete, if approved by LAUSD and the Board of Education, the program would be supported by LAUSD in the long-term, in coordination with the Academy's Media Literacy Program.
LA should have the most far-reaching and thorough media arts education program in the U.S.; our mission is to create and implement a quality program that becomes an integral part of every LAUSD middle school student’s experience, inspiring students, teachers, and families.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
DCA generates & supports high quality arts & cultural experiences for LA’s 4 million residents & 26 million annual visitors. DCA supports artists & cultural projects through the following Divisions: The Grants Administration Division awards grants to over 270 LA-based artists & cultural organizations. The Public Art Division funds the creation & maintenance of all public art on City property or private commercial developments. The Community Arts Division manages 25 neighborhood arts & cultural centers (e.g., Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood); theaters (e.g., Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro); & historic sites (e.g., the Watts Towers; Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House). DCA’s Marketing & Development Division markets the City's arts & cultural organizations & leads DCA’s development efforts with the corporate community.
DCA is spearheading a number of initiatives that directly address the LA2050 indicators. In Housing, DCA is working with the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation & Artspace, an organization dedicated to creating sustainably affordable space for artists & arts organizations, to build the Broadway Arts Center (BAC) - a mixed-used facility to include approximately 100 affordable live/work units, along with rehearsal & performance space. The BAC will be part of the Broadway Cultural Quarter, anticipated to include a downtown campus for CalArts’ MFA Theater program, creative industry incubator space, and upper-floor offices for creative businesses and startups.
The Watts Our Town initiative, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, brings together community members and stakeholders to design an artistic “green” pathway connecting the 103rd Street Metro Station to the Watts Towers. Environmental Quality is promoted by replacing existing concrete walkways with grass and trees, and Social Connectedness is encouraged by repurposing a historic train station into a visitors center and gallery.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Media Literacy Program currently serves nearly 1600 high school students annually. The program includes film screenings and group discussions, along with visits from filmmakers and industry professionals. It is designed to help students improve analytical skills to encourage thoughtful interaction with film. In addition, the Academy is building the world’s largest movie museum - the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures - next to the LACMA campus. Providing students with access to this museum and to LACMA, as well as expanding to programs, will be an integral part of LA Creates!
The LA Fund, recently launched “Arts Matter,” an unprecedented campaign to revitalize arts education in LAUSD. Developed to drive public awareness for the critical role of arts education in public schools, the campaign includes leading contemporary artists, including Barbara Kruger and John Baldessari, as well as LA entertainment, civic, and education leaders.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
• The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
• The Los Angeles Unified School District
• The Los Angeles Fund for Public Education
• The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
• The California Institute of the Arts
• The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
• UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture; UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television; and the Hammer Museum
• Film Independent
• Arts for LA, the region’s arts advocacy organization, will incorporate LA Creates! into its Arts Education advocacy efforts.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
The following metrics will be used to evaluate LA Creates!
• Controlled Pre/Post Assessment of students will be made to understand if the LA Creates! model of project-based film study helps students learn more effectively. LA Creates! program efficacy will be evaluated based on a review of quantifiable data, such as attendance, test scores, and completed work assignments.
• Teacher, student, and parent surveys will measure interest in and satisfaction with the LA Creates! program. Teachers will also be surveyed on the level of student engagement during the course, and students will be surveyed about skills learned.
• Quality reviews will include a set of “judging" rubrics to be developed by expert panels comprised of members from the film industry and education leaders in order to evaluate students’ work for specific elements of the lesson plans. For example, professional story board editors will be used to help ensure that if story boarding is used in a class, students are doing it at the appropriate age-level. If the ultimate class project is a short-film, each area of the work would be evaluated (i.e., editing, lighting, set design, etc.) in order to determine a benchmark for student performance and expectations.
At the end of the Year I of the pilot program, an initial evaluation will be conducted to determine the plan’s efficacy and make corrections as needed. A final evaluation will be made at the end of the five-year program.
The program’s ultimate success will be measured based on the ability of LA Creates! to achieve the following identified outcomes:
• Develop LAUSD's first film-based middle school course of study that integrates core subjects with the creative process and applications of film making.
• Demonstrate that LA Creates!’ in-school programming has a strong impact on students, based on quantifiable data from the above metrics.
• Prove that this course of study can be successfully replicated in underserved communities throughout LA County.
• Develop a set of lesson plans for LA Creates! that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, LAUSD's English Language Learners Master Plan, and a new teacher evaluation system that is currently being developed by LAUSD. These lessons will be part of an approved LAUSD full-year middle school course description for media arts. In addition, individual lessons will be written to focus on arts integration throughout the school, taught in collaboration with non-arts teachers, to aid meaningful learning in all subject areas.
• Leverage the support of LAUSD with artists and leaders in LA's arts and culture community to advance and sustain LA Creates!
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
Bringing LA’s most recognized industry into the classroom will have immediate AND long-range effects. The LA2050 Report states that 36% of LAUSD students do not graduate high school, adding “That’s up to 20,000 Angelenos entering the modern economy every year and competing without a high school degree.” Per LAUSD staff, this is a conservative number since it does not account for students who drop out before reaching high school. A student’s decision to drop out of high-school is frequently the result of negative school experiences (e.g., academic failure, suspensions) that often begin before the ninth grade. By targeting middle school students, LA Creates! is being designed to appeal to young people at an earlier stage in their education and serve as a catalyst to change this trajectory.
To capitalize on the area’s surging creative sector (one out of every eight jobs in Greater LA, per the 2012 Otis Report on the Creative Economy), LA Creates! will work with Consortium and industry stakeholders to help students develop skills identified by local employers as vital to our continued leadership in the creative industries. These skills are needed for arts-related jobs and careers, such as animators and digital effects artists, as well as non-arts STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers that also value media arts training, because they require communication, collaboration, and problem solving skills, all of which are developed through media arts education. To ensure that the arts and culture ecosystem in LA continues to significantly enhance human development while outpacing other cities in the U.S. and abroad, “LA must recruit, train and retain the next generation of creative artists” (LA2050 Report).
An important aspect of LA Creates! is the development of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in the historic Wilshire May Company building, adjacent to the LACMA campus. This new museum will build on the Academy’s vast archival resources, important ties to the film industry, and robust year-round public programming. It will also complement LACMA’s focus on the visual arts, including the arts of the moving image. Film Independent, an organization that empowers filmmakers to tell their own stories in their own voices, currently works with LACMA on its film programs. Film Independent is a DCA grantee for “Project Involve,” a 20-year diversity program dedicated to cultivating the careers of filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the industry, and will be a natural collaborator for this project.
Moreover, LAUSD will incorporate LA Creates! into its five-year strategic plan for arts integration in public schools, with the final goal of creating a sustainable Media Arts program involving all 85 LAUSD middle schools and reaching the 120,000 middle school students enrolled yearly. The Goldhirsh Foundation award would be a critical first step in launching the initial year of this ambitious pilot.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
According to the LA2050 Report, LA’s Arts & Culture Vitality indicator will move from its current green ranking, indicating that it “significantly enhances human development,” to light green, indicating that it simply “enhances human development” in the year 2050. By training the next generation of artists & creative professionals, LA Creates! will ensure that LA keeps its current place as a national & international leader in the arts.
Of equal importance is the symbiotic relationship between the arts & other indicators.
Education received the lowest score in the LA2050 Report. Yet there is a plethora of research, including that of Stanford University’s Dr. Shirley Brice Heath, which reveals that young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours a day/three days a week, for at least one full year, are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, four times more likely to participate in a math & science fairs, & three times more likely to win awards for school attendance.
Arts education also improves SAT scores. Per The College Board, math SAT scores improved by 41 points, & verbal scores improved by 57 points after students were enrolled in arts education programs. Studying the arts for four years or more improved total SAT scores by 119 points. Through strategic investments in arts programs such as LA Creates!, increased LA student retention is possible, diminishing dropout rates & increasing college attendance.
In terms of employment, the latest 2012 Otis Report indicates that the creative industries are the second largest business sector in the Los Angeles region, generating nearly 1 million jobs. Unfortunately, many of these creative jobs are out of reach for a large number of LA residents, particularly for people of color. LA Creates! will provide linkages between young people & the entertainment industry. Capturing the imagination of young people at an early age, while providing training & networking access to industry leaders, will develop a homegrown pool of talent, helping to ensure that in 2050, LA’s creative jobs will not be outsourced, & that LA retains a high concentration of creative artist jobs.
It is especially significant that LA Creates! is proposing to utilize the highest ranked indicator to systematically address retention, training, & advancement issues in the lowest ranked indicator, Education. Education, in turn, is the most significant determiner of how an individual fares in income & employment; ability to secure adequate housing in an environmentally secure community, & effects all other indicators in the Report as well. Moreover, LA Creates! will leverage the support of LAUSD with leaders in the arts & culture community to scale up & sustain the program over the long haul. In turn, this positive linkage between Arts & Cultural Vitality & Education will result in a more vibrant & engaged community as we head into the year 2050.