The Los Angeles Fund for Public Education hosted a star-studded event at the Grove shopping mall Tuesday with an unusually large guest: an MTA bus covered in artwork from street artist Shepard Fairey.
The colorful bus featuring the slogan "Create Your Future" was parked in front of J. Crew. It's part of the L.A. fund's public art campaign to promote arts education. The artwork on the bus includes a lightbulb with a giant eye inside it, as well as an oversized, red paintbrush above the front passenger entrance.
"As far as I’m concerned creativity is our number one asset and we often take our eye off it’s importance," said Megan Chernin, the wife of former News Corp. executive Peter Chernin and the L.A. Fund's CEO. Chernin is also a trustee on leave from the board of Southern California Public Radio.
She said high profile events like this help build "tremendous public awareness" and get people thinking about the value of arts education.
Since the L.A. Fund began in 2011, it's raised $10 million in cash and in kind donations. The non-profit recently announced it was funding a $750,ooo grant for arts integration in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The district drastically slashed arts education funding over the past several years, from $34 million in the 2007-2008 to $18.4 million in 2011-12. But the district recently released plans to restore funding to 2007-2008 levels. Details are in a 44-page report, the "Arts Education and Creative Cultural Network Plan."
The bus was part of L.A. Fund's "Arts Matter" campaign, launched in October. According to the fund's chief program officer, Melissa Infusino, the publicity campaign has raised $865,000.
The L.A. Fund spent $60,000 on printing the Fairey art. Space, staff time, and photography expenses were all donated.
Fairey is the third artist to participate in the campaign. The other two are Barbara Kruger and John Baldessari.
Fairey's public art design will be featured on six city buses, 40 billboards, 80 bus shelters and in various other bulletins around town.
The cast of the new Hulu Plus show "East Los High" took a short spin around the Grove in the bus during the event Tuesday. They joined L.A. Fund staff members for an interview with Mario Lopez on the celebrity news TV show "Extra," where they plugged the Twitter campaign #ArtsMatter.
Superintendent John Deasy was on hand for the "Extra" appearance, but left before the official media event began at 11 a.m.
"This is such a treat," said "East Los High" cast member Danielle Vega. Vega said her enthusiasm for the project grew when she realized Fairey was the artist behind the popular Obama campaign poster.
Vega is a 2004 graduate of L.A. Unified's Hamilton High, which is well-known for its performing arts program.
"Arts has always been a part of me," she said. "It was great to have that outlet in school," she said.