‘Big Bang’ Saturdays - family and friends in the neighborhoods harmonize with 300 regional orchestra students led by conductor, Diane Louie.
P.S. ARTS, an organization in Los Angeles working to improve children's lives through arts education, recently announced the launch of the TakePART program in the Lawndale, Lennox, and Wiseburn school districts. TakePART (Public-School Arts Regional Team) is a collaborative effort to streamline resources, increase arts opportunities, and strengthen communities across neighboring school districts. P.S. ARTS leads the TakePART taskforce with school district leaders and other community stakeholders, or “PARTners.” PARTners work together to plan, develop, and implement arts education initiatives that benefit students and families across the entire region—beyond what can be accomplished within individual school districts.
Lawndale, Wiseburn, and Lennox school districts are all members of the Los Angeles County initiative Arts for All, but like all school districts, have struggled to implement their arts education plans under dire economic circumstances. Improvements that Lawndale made in arts education (with support from P.S. ARTS via a $1.7 million grant from the Herb Alpert Foundation) got neighboring school districts Wiseburn and Lennox interested in new ways of collaborating with arts organizations; thus, birthing the idea of TakePART.
In July 2010, the Herb Alpert Foundation hosted a meeting with P.S. ARTS, Harmony Project, and New Visions to discuss creating a launch project to galvanize support for TakePART. Arts for All simultaneously convened the leaders from each school district (as part of its goal to further strengthen districts’own capacities) to explore common challenges and ways to continue to implement arts education programs even in these hard economic times. Participants shared their individual district arts education plans and then together identified areas of common need. Music emerged as a priority for these three neighboring school districts.
New Visions had already been working toward overall educational reform in the Lennox school district through the Lennox Educational Neighborhood Zone (LENZ) project. (LENZ is a network of ‘cradle to college’ education, healthcare, community empowerment, and social services programs.) Recognizing music as a critical component of the New Visions for LENZ project, discussions began with Harmony Project, the Herb Alpert Foundation, P.S. ARTS, and the Gluck Foundation about implementing a youth orchestra program in Lennox.
These conversations, allowed the PARTners to recognize common arts education objectives, which led to the creation a regional youth orchestra program for hundreds of children in Lawndale, Lennox, and Wiseburn. In addition to the in-school music programs that P.S. ARTS already provides for thousands of children within these districts, the Harmony Project Regional Youth Orchestra allows students the opportunity to participate in another four hours per week of music instruction and a weekly orchestra.
The Herb Alpert Foundation awarded a major grant to launch the regional youth orchestra. Simultaneously, New Visions’ fundraising efforts for LENZ yielded support from the Gluck Foundation that 1) doubled the number of Lennox students that could participate in the regional youth orchestra, 2) extended the number of Saturday orchestra sessions for all students, and 3) provided for an outside evaluation of the entire regional youth orchestra program.
As the first major program of the TakePART project, the Harmony Project Regional Youth Orchestra addresses the lack of music education identified in early regional planning sessions. It provides hundreds of students with afterschool music instruction that aligns with the in-school arts programs provided by P.S. ARTS. “The regional orchestra hosts ‘Big Bang’ Saturdays, allowing family and friends in the neighborhoods to harmonize with 300 orchestra students led by conductor Diane Louie. The overall goal of the TakePART project is to find creative and collaborative solutions to providing every child in these districts a quality arts education,” explains P.S. ARTS Executive Director of Education and Programs Dr. Kristen Paglia.
Moving forward, the PARTners are developing creative, collaborative solutions to providing every child across these three school districts with not only music education, but also opportunities for in- and out-of-school arts experiences in dance, theater, and visual arts.
|Organization Contact:||Dr. Kristen Paglia, Executive Director|