Cameron Smyth | Arts Education in Santa Clarita!

Santa Clarita Councilman Cameron Smyth
Santa Clarita Councilman Cameron Smyth
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“The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.” — Dana Gioia 

In Santa Clarita, we have embraced arts and culture, and always will. Whether it is through the countless poems stamped into our local sidewalks, dozens of sculptures at our facilities and parks, or the galleries that span across our city, we are proud to support our local artists. What helps us continue to be an art-driven community is our ability to advocate art education to our youth.  

According to a recent Brookings Institute study, arts education produces significant positive impacts on academic and social development, especially for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. By giving students the opportunity to be creative and explore different types of art, we are actively supporting their future success. As a community, we can encourage students and children to develop new skills by embracing the expression of emotion and imagination through art.  

For many, the library has always been a safe place to let the mind wander and conjure creative ideas or projects. The Santa Clarita Public Library offers three branches where residents of all ages can tune in to their creative sides, through books, podcasts, crafts and more. With thousands of residents entering our library doors each year, we wanted to create a program where students could gain access to free arts education.  

This year, the Santa Clarita Public Library is excited to collaborate with our local California Institute of the Arts to do just that. Founded by Walt Disney, CalArts, the premier arts college in the nation, is dedicated to bringing free after-school and school-based arts programs to youth in every discipline taught at the institute through their Community Arts Partnership. The CalArts x SCPL workshops are based at the Santa Clarita Public Library, Valencia Branch, where students between fourth and sixth grade get to work one-on-one with CalArts alumni and current students.   

The after-school workshops focus on two different art subjects – animation and zine-making, which is a unique artform where artists reproduce images and text into a small booklet. During these classes, students will receive world-class instruction and have the ability to try a completely new skill, work on something they are passionate about or merely have the opportunity to be creative in writing, drawing, editing, lighting and more.  

Through the city’s partnership with CAP, students are receiving this opportunity at no cost. By creating programs like this, we can reach out to community members who may not have the financial capability to attend art classes and give them the opportunity to experience a creative environment. A goal at the Santa Clarita Public Library is to provide resources and programming to all of our residents, no matter the income level or language barrier.  

As a father, community member and councilman, I couldn’t be prouder of the positive impact the city and our local partners have on our students. By collaborating on projects, we can help give students a brand-new way of looking at life through art. Creating a space where they can feel free of judgement or anxiety only contributes to their happiness, well-being and overall success at school and at home.  

I hope that programs like this can give students a place where they can gain confidence and feel inspired to continue a pathway into the arts. As Dana Gioia said, arts education helps create complete human beings, and here at the city of Santa Clarita, we aim to do just that.  

Councilman Cameron Smyth is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected]. 

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