In the last five years, funding for arts education at L.A. Unified has dropped from a budgeted high of $78.6 million in 2007-8 to $18.6 million this year. The district has committed to returning funds to the 2007-8 levels.
In the last five years, funding for arts education at L.A. Unified has dropped from a budgeted high of $78.6 million to $18.6 million.
The 76 percent drop in funding equates to about $60 million, and is the result of a dramatic decrease in state support and the district's need to constrict its budget in response.
With a greater awareness for the importance of arts education today, LAUSD hasn't singled out the arts for cuts as much as before, but still cuts have happened amid the economic downturn.
"When things start getting cut, legal mandates win, and other things fall to the wayside," said L.A. Unified senior arts coordinator Steven McCarthy. He's now the only staffer of the school district's "arts education branch," which used to include about 20 people.
On Tuesday, the L.A. Unified school board unanimously approved a measure that will make arts education a "core subject," prohibit further cuts to the arts, and ultimately restore some money to arts programs.
With song, dance and star-power tweets by Justin Bieber and Ryan Seacrest, the LA Fund for Public Education launched a $4 million campaign — and the largest initiative in city history — to revitalize arts education at the Los Angeles Unified School District.
At an event at East Los Angeles Performing Arts Academy, dozens of students along with school board member Nury Martinez danced to The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" and Beyonce's "Move Your Body" to celebrate the new campaign.
"Arts Matter," with CBS Outdoor as a primary sponsor, will feature the work of L.A.-based artist Barbara Kruger on about a dozen city buses and on hundreds of billboards, bus shelters, wall postings, mall media and bulletins, LA Fund officials say.
"You can go from DreamWorks to Amgen, from Boeing to Mattel, they all say their No. 1 challenge is finding creative thinkers who can problem solve and who have the capacity and desire to learn new ways of doing things in an increasingly competitive market place," said LA Fund Chair Megan Chernin.