Inner-City Arts: Virtual Arts Education Project

Through a major expansion of our in-school program, Inner-City Arts will help close the equity and access gap on arts education for LAUSD students. With the expansive of digital platforms and tools now available (and recent integration of virtual learning on a wide-scale due to COVID-19), we will combine 30 years of hands-on experience with new virtual tools, to bring the highest caliber of sequential, curriculum-based arts education to the broadest segment of LAUSD’s least resourced classrooms, educators, and communities.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

LAUSD (please select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

What is the need you’re responding to?

As LAUSD’s largest and longest-standing arts education partner, Inner-City Arts has a front row seat to the entrenched (well-documented) problem of students from lowest-income communities, particularly students of color, receiving the least and lowest quality arts education – and we think that’s unacceptable in a city so rich with creativity.

Also, this year we approved a new Strategic Plan, and a key need we identified is expanding access beyond our Campus. As a result, we have been experimenting with technology to make what we do available virtually, and on a much broader scale.

We had no idea how immediately relevant this would prove – when faced with school closures due to COVID-19, we were able to jump right into virtually serving students. Now that we’ve seen what’s possible, we are inspired to do something big. After we make it through this crisis, let’s use virtual learning to dramatically scale-up our in-school day program to expand arts education for LAUSD students.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Inner-City Arts has been partnering with LAUSD for three decades, and we have extensive in-depth relationships with LAUSD teachers, administrators – we even have a long-standing friendship with the bus drivers’ union. At every level, we are experts in navigating LAUSD’s multitude of complexities.

Another important ingredient for us is an inexhaustible ambition to see all of L.A.’s students receive a top-notch arts education. COVID-19 has had one silver lining as we see it – it’s transformed how we look at virtual learning. Now we have a working model and an entire team ready and able to implement. This creates a powerful and timely opportunity to make a big dent in expanding arts education access – starting with our most historically underserved students.

For all of these reasons, we are in a unique position to successfully lead a large-scale, city-wide effort to make arts education more widely available via a combination of in-person, hands-on, and virtual learning.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 15,000

Indirect Impact: 150,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Our project’s intended population are students at Title 1 schools, prioritizing partners based on current access to arts instruction (using LAUSD’s Arts Equity Index). The broader impact of our proposal is that we go from serving typically 5,500+ primarily low-income students and their teachers each year, to transforming hundreds more classrooms across our city, with the potential to reach thousands more students (as indicated by rough estimates listed above). This means also supporting more educators with training in arts integration to support whole-school, systemic change in underserved communities on a scale never before possible. We cannot imagine a more effective and important investment in the future of our city.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

For us, project success is clearly measurable using the following questions – Are we significantly increasing the percentage of LAUSD students receiving arts education as part of their school day? Is the programming in which students are participating comprehensive and of the highest quality? Are educators reporting positive impact of participation, as evidenced by improvements in students’ academic outcomes, and Social Emotional Learning outcomes? We will answer these questions by methodically collecting quantitative and qualitative data, pre- and post-participant surveys, and classroom observation.

Since our founding, research has continued to confirm what we experience in our studios every day, that the arts play an essential role in supporting the creative, social-emotional, and academic development of our youth. Inner-City Arts has a deep commitment to evidence-based evaluation and over the past 30 years, we have worked with highly-qualified and respected program evaluators, including the Department of Education, the Center for Collaborative Education, the Centers for Research on Creativity, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and Indiana University’s Bloomington School of Education. In total, we have participated in nine comprehensive external evaluations, supporting our own programs and contributing to the fields of Arts Education and Educational Research.

Which of the LEARN metrics will your submission impact?​

Arts education

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to CREATE

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Capacity, including staff

Strategy assistance and implementation