Using Facebook to Promote Arts Education in Los Alamitos

The Challenge: How to connect with parents and other allies and build support for K-12 arts education in local schools. 

The Strategy: Donna Chinn created a Facebook page that pooled information about arts education events in Los Alamitos from various sites and schools, providing parents with one place to find out about all arts events in the district. 

The Story: “I didn’t really know how Facebook worked,” says Donna Chinn, local organizer for the Los Alamitos Alliance for Arts Education, ”When I started I was trying to find or invent a way to connect with parents and other people who might be interested in local arts. Eventually, I discovered that I could set up a page for the arts alliance as an organization.  Luckily, my daughter was able to help me with my many newbie questions.”

While she didn’t have experience with social media, Donna started with clear objectives and a sound strategy: 

1. Provide something of value
There was no one place where parents could find out about all the arts events happening in Los Alamitos, so Donna pulled information from various school sites and arts organizations and posted it on the Los Alamitos Alliance for Arts Education Facebook page, creating a clearinghouse of all the district arts events. 

“I do an email once a month, but with Facebook I can post updates and new information every few days,” says Chinn. “It’s great because people can respond or share their own information there as well.”

2. Educate your audience 

“When I was parent, I only went to the events happening at my kids’ school. High school seemed far away and scary. I didn’t understand what was available at other schools or what my kids were progressing toward,” says Chinn.

“Although parents may visit the Facebook page just to find out about events at their kids’ school, they have a chance to see where the visual and performing arts can lead – to see that it’s part of progression that can go from elementary through high school and even beyond. I even include information about professional performances happening in our area. While students may not grow to become professional performers, seeing these show may inspire them to become lifelong art consumers and appreciators.” 

3. Share your content with partners and allies
Donna recently met with the new district VAPA Coordinator, who was enthusiastic about the event listing she compiled and, with Donna’s help, created a poster that promoted all the upcoming district arts events. This not only helped to promote individual events, but also to create a snapshot of the whole progression of arts learning from elementary through high school. 

“The Los Alamitos Alliance for Arts Education has worked to build partnerships with an array of community leaders – parents, local arts organizations, elected officials, so I was pleased to be able to offer something useful to the new VAPA coordinator,” says Chinn. “Part of building relationships with other arts allies is offering them resources that we’ve developed or helping them promote theirs. After all, we’re all working toward the same goals.” 

Whether you are new to Facebook or a veteran, you can use these three principles to guide your individual goals. Donna is now thinking about next steps for social media.  For more ideas next month, we’ll talk to Suzanne Oehler, the local organizer for the San Jose Alliance for Arts Education and a social media professional. 

Photos: Top left: Donna Chinn with Melissa Miller and Grant Litfin of LAHS, May 2011
Botton left: Donna Chinn, Grace Neary and Danae Mullen at California Alliance Local Advoacy Network Retreat, Sept 2012