Art Programs Lacking in Hollywood

Funding for schools has been spent in large amounts to improve students’ test scores in major subjects, causing other areas to suffer, primarily arts programs.

One of the hardest hit areas is Los Angeles, where most people come as budding young artists hoping to dance their way to the top or eventually perform in the LA Philharmonic. But these students are finding their dreams nearly impossible to reach as money spent on art programs is flushed away to other areas.

The state requires that every grade level have the opportunity to have various theater, dance, music and art programs available. But even having some of the strongest policies in the nation isn’t enough to bring the funds necessary to actually provide these programs.

“The state policy landscape tells you one thing, but then you really have to look at the district and, in many cases, you have to look at the individual schools.” said Sandra Ruppert, director of the nonprofit Arts Education Partnership in Washington, D.C. "You can have two schools that are very similar demographically and have very different arts offerings."

The schools that fare well receive more community donations. Affluent areas have better arts education programs because of their ability to receive funds from parents, community members and other taxpayers.

However, there are a few exceptions thanks to professionals who donate time. More than 90% of the students at Carlos Santana Arts Academy are low-income, so Principal Leah Bass-Baylis, a former professional dancer, recruited people that she knew to help teach classes.

"When you don't have money, you have to count on people to do things out of the kindness of their own hearts and you say, 'I promise I'll pay you,'" Bass-Baylis said.

At least students can begin to learn from a young age the power of generosity and the struggles of the starving artist.

Read more at The Los Angeles Times