The Good News about Arts Education in Los Angeles County

Posted by Laura Zucker, Feb 28, 2014 0 comments

Laura Zucker Laura Zucker


Recently the 2013 Otis Report on the Creative Economy for California and the Los Angeles Region was released. As in previous years, the presentation of the data generated anticipation and buzz in the arts community.  There is a lot of good news for the creative sector, including the fact that one out of every seven jobs is in the creative economy. The report emphasizes the critical role arts education plays in preparing students for these jobs, and we at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission are particularly interested in how we can make these opportunities a reality for all the 1.6 million students in our public schools.

The Otis Report consolidates data from across all 81 school districts in Los Angeles County. These districts range in size from large (over 600,000 students) to small (under 1,500 students) and utilize arts specialists, generalist teachers and teaching artists in different ways to achieve their educational goals.

The data draws from the 2011-12 academic year, which was a challenging time for schools. Districts were struggling with recession era budgets, forced to make difficult budgetary choices and like the rest of the country, much of their public accountability was based on test scores in math and language arts. Despite these challenges, there are positive indicators:

  • Arts course enrollment regained what was lost during the recession, and was only 10 fewer students in 2011-12 compared to 2005-06 (317,000 students).
  • The total number of arts education classes offered increased by 20.8% since 2005-06.
  • Enrollment in arts courses as a percentage of all courses rose slightly to 7.6% in 2011-12 from 7.0% in 2005-06.

We know there is public will around arts education from superintendents, assistant superintendents and teachers across LA County. Arts for All, the county’s arts education initiative dedicated to making the arts core in K-12 public education, saw will transformed into action through the creation and adoption of 50 arts strategic plans since 2002, twelve school districts implementing robust teacher professional development plans, and countywide interest in the inclusion of the arts as a strategy for helping students achieve Common Core State Standards (every workshop we offer on the topic is filled to capacity).

And the landscape for education in the state is changing once again with significantly more resources flowing into LA County schools. We’re looking forward to greater gains in the next few years and plan to partner with Otis College and the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation to provide a more in-depth snapshot of the state of arts education in 2014.

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