Soluna Group Managing Partner Lauren Valles, center, leads a discussion with attendees during the Community Art Forum presented by the Los Angeles County Arts Ed Collective at The Centre in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Dan Watson/ The Signal

County holds Community Art Forum ahead of new plan due in the fall

Members of the public, including teachers, parents and advocates, voiced their opinions during a forum to build upon the regional plan for arts education within Los Angeles County at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex on Saturday.

Conversations between guests were facilitated to provide each other with input on how to create new pathways for children and teenagers in progressing their careers in the arts with the help of the Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective.

“We know that the arts are taught in most schools, but are rarely taught to all students in an entire grade level on a consistent basis all year long, every year, so if we want to develop the kinds of out-of-the-box thinkers, creative problem solvers, innovators, then we know that creativity needs to be something that we grow up with,” said Denise Grande, director of arts education with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

The forum incorporated interactive teamwork activities to create new ideas for different areas in need of improvement, such as funding, outreach, volunteering and providing resources for Spanish-speaking students.

Saturday’s art forum was one of 11 across the Southland, called for by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, aimed at updating the original 17-year-old plan to better reflect the current landscape.

“So it’s time to go from trying to get participation to defining at a greater level what that participation’s going to be and what programs might need to be introduced now that we’re almost to our goal of having everyone participate,” said Alis Odenthal, a member of the Arts Commission. “Now we want to up the goal and refresh the goal.”

Among the visitors was William Brooks, a Santa Clarita resident, who is also a member of the Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective and grew up interested in the arts and cultural policy. Last year, he graduated from California State University, Northridge, and works at the Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles.

“As someone that wanted to be an opera singer at 18 and then realized there’s more career options out there, it’s really important to have the support and resources necessary to transition from a high school age to college, and then realize that there’s so many options for me and there’s support for it, which is that other piece that’s sometimes forgotten about,” he said.

After the final forum on June 22, Grande said the commission will use the findings to look at areas in need of strengthening and further develop the plan for the remainder of the summer until the fall, before the new regional plan is submitted for a ruling by the Board of Supervisors.

The next forum is scheduled to be held at Long Beach City College on June 10. For more information about the forums and to find the closest one near you, visit acountyartsedcollective.org/community-forum/rsvp.  

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