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Pursuing Justice through Passion and Creativity
January 26, 2021

In the summer of 2013, I had the incredible fortune of being chosen as the first L.A. County Arts Commission Arts Internship Program intern at the California Alliance for Arts Education. As someone who had benefited deeply from the performing arts in high school, I was moved by the Alliance’s work to make sure every student got the opportunities that I did.  Little did I know it was the beginning of a long and treasured relationship with the Alliance.

It was that hot summer in a tiny, poorly lit office (the Alliance has since moved to a delightful bungalow with lots of natural light) which provided me with one of my first opportunities for professional growth. At the same time, I saw the courage and empathy with which our team faced even the most difficult personal challenges. I had little with which to compare the experience, but I could tell I had stumbled into a very special space.

One of my favorite assignments was preparing a highlights reel for the...


To Encourage Artful Healing for Student Success
December 18, 2020

Greg Solomon is an Arts Now Hero and previous lead for Arts Now Moreno Valley.

The Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) is leading the way in student success by encouraging artful healing during the challenging time of uncertainty. Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator Greg Solomon (Arts Now hero) and a team of professional educators have been working on a district-wide initiative, Document Today. The district’s plan is to supply every student with an art kit, provide teacher training for success in the digital realm, and coordinate arts teachers, counselors and professional development specialists to train teachers. The focus of the program is to use the arts for student mental health and to document this historic time period.

The Document Today initiative is an intentional approach encouraging students to use the arts to share their feelings and express how they are coping. Teacher training is...

Uncomfortable Conversations Create Change
October 22, 2020

Zae is a past winner of the Student Voices Campaign and is now Video Production Assistant at RYSE Center

In his experience:

Keep the fight going-don’t take no for an answer

Take constructive criticism, take advice, don’t feel discouraged, it’s not a critique of you personally, learn how to grow from it

Challenge yourself to do something new with an art medium, experiment and figure out what you’re trying to say

Make a statement

How did your journey as an artivist start?

I am part of RYSE’s staff pipeline, where you start out as member and once you’ve shown enough leadership and participate in enough workshops you move to intern, to fellow, to contracted staff: part time to fulltime staff. It was kind of a long bumpy ride, before I was a video intern, I was a YO (Youth Organizer). I was on the front lines fighting for what’s right for my community. When I was a YO I started to realize the problems that were inside my community. I noticed that we had police but didn’t recognize police brutality,...

Relationship Building in the Face of Trauma
October 8, 2020

Christina Galit-Trinh is a TK-3 teacher of general music at Pomona Unified School District

In her experience:

Remember the relationship

Bring familiar elements from the classroom into virtual instruction

Give yourself grace as a teacher learning new things

What was it like for you and other teachers when the stay at home orders went into place?

The theme of 2019-2020 has been community and relationship building. There’s a lot of trauma happening in the homes and it impacts the work happening in the classroom. So, we found certain approaches weren’t working. Students and families need to be willing and open to work with us.

When we transitioned into distance learning we maintained that relationship building was the number one priority. Principals and teachers drove to homes, called families and reaffirmed relationships. Our district provided hotspots if they needed it. If students didn’t have chrome books, administrators stopped by with paper lessons, calling if families couldn’t be reached.

Since music class is optional, it...

Arts Promote a Love of Learning
August 4, 2020

Cindy is a copywriter, author and mother of two who was living in China when the pandemic hit.

Follow their lead: they’ll stay more engaged in learning when it’s framed by something they enjoy

Use the arts to promote a love of learning

Figure out how you can combine school subjects with their arts interests

How has the pandemic impacted your family?

We left China with a few suitcases and have been living in a temporary apartment ever since. We have a 3 ½ year old and our oldest turned 6 a week after stay at home orders. We’re 12 hours behind his school, which makes things challenging and easier in different ways. Once my husband started working from home in March, we were able to share the load. For our family, it’s been important to set up a system so we can trade off work and parenting.

Do you have any tips or tricks for...

Art Making Through Mask Making
June 30, 2020

Charity is a preschool teacher who is completing her third year of a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. Annais is completing her sophomore year in high school from home and is interested in becoming a costume designer. They’ve completed over 150 masks that they have shipped across the country.

In their experience:

Physical distancing does not require emotional distance, find ways to connect with your community

The art we make is going to impact the way history sees this time, and can be reflective of the challenges we faced; don’t worry about perfection

Why did you start sewing masks?

Charity: My sister is an ICU nurse and when I read that they were in need of masks and other PPE, I started making surgical caps and masks for her. And then realized my family and closest friends, and their friends were also in need and realized we could make a community impact. We ended up digging out our sewing machines and setting up a station on our dining room table. We each take turns making masks throughout the day. With this last batch...

Life is Messy and Beautiful
June 17, 2020

Tanya is an LAUSD teacher of over 15 years currrently working with pregnant and parenting teens. She is remotely teaching parents or parents-to-be while also parenting and educating her own kids ages 2 and 4.

In her experience:

Arts can help us process trauma

Let go of the outcome and be present in the moment 

Art can be made from anything

How has the pandemic impacted the way you balance work and family?

I have worked for LAUSD for over 15 years and I currently work with students who are all pregnant or parenting teens. I have two kids 2 and 4 and I’m supposed to be working and self-regulating and sometimes all I want to do is stare at my phone or watch tv.

I think of my students living in small spaces with multiple people, and they’re supposed to be schooling online, which raises questions of accessibility. Imagine trying to read an article with your two-year-old and be engaged in what you’re reading. So, I’ve been creating lessons that engage them in social-emotional play while also contributing toward their credits....

Napkin Art During a Pandemic
May 29, 2020

Sue is a product designer who has a three-year old caterpillar enthusiast, Mateo.

In their experience:

Public libraries are great resources for story time and craft projects

Pick age appropriate activities inspired by daily life

Cultivate the love of expressing ideas

How has the pandemic impacted the way you balance work and family?

I currently work remotely as a product designer for a consulting firm. I’m a big advocate for arts education, having worked previously for arts nonprofits and studied arts and psychology in college. My son is three, and goes over to grandma’s right now from 9-6. Both my partner and I work from home, which would be impossible with a toddler.

How did you start making art at home with your son?

I used...

If You're Looking for Treasure...
May 14, 2020

Aarathi is a pediatrician and mom to Nikhil, an 11 year-old in 5th grade.

In their experience:

Engage in art-making together

Try new materials

Don't micromanage - making a mess is part of the plan 

1. How has the pandemic impacted the way you balance work and family?

Aarathi: I’m a pediatrician, I see mostly outpatient newborns. Although we’re not seeing a lot of pediatric cases, COVID-19 impacts us in the work itself. On the home front, I’m worrying about, am I going to get my son and my husband sick, since I don’t know what I see at work. So, we follow social distancing at home which has been hard. I come home and I change and shower before I do anything else, before that he doesn’t come near me. I don’t hug Nikhil anymore.

Nikhil: I don’t like being cooped up at home.

2. How did you start...

Use Your Vision to Create Change
February 27, 2020

Veronique Marks has a vision: she wants her local school district to have a Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator who supports dedicated fulltime credentialed arts teachers at each school in the Live Oak Unified School District with access to a designated classroom. She knows that in order to move her vision forward, she needs to complete an assessment of the existing arts education programs in each school. After collecting enrollment data from school principals, she will be able to assess the strengths, weaknesses and issues of equity in the current arts education offerings. In addition, Marks works to establish community relationships and build support for arts education. She strives to make it clear that the goal of arts education isn’t to train all students to become artists, but rather to create well-rounded and engaged students who are creative and collaborative thinkers –traits key to success in the 21st century workforce.  Arts Now Live Oak is launching with a 5-year plan in mind, working in collaboration with schools and organizations, equipped with a clear picture of where the schools are...