Seeking to spark creativity among its students, Los Angeles Unified School District's “Arts Fest” kicks off Saturday and will feature events at about 30 schools over a two-week period.
Steven McCarthy, Los Angeles Unified's arts coordinator for kindergarten through 12th grades, said Arts Fest will be unique because the programs are open to the public.
“They are going to see a wide array of talent,” McCarthy said of attendees.
Some of the events are free, while others cost from $1 to $7.
Visitors at Esteban Torres High School in East Los Angeles, for example, can watch two dance teams perform. Over at the Woodland Hills' Hale Charter Academy, the academy's jazz ensembles will play a few sets. At T.S King Middle School in Los Feliz, ceramics and other students' artwork will be on display.
The program concludes March 15 with a free event in downtown's Grand Park, which will include about 2,000 students performing on the main stage or showcasing their work, McCarthy said.
The idea for Arts Fest arose from a district-wide contest. In 2012, Los Angeles Unified officials asked students, employees and parents to submit ideas for programs they would like to see that would promote positivity. The district offered $3,000 towards supplies at whichever school provided the winning idea.
Jordyn Sacino, then at Palms Gifted Magnet but now a freshman at Hamilton High School, supplied just that: A district-wide arts program.
“Why don't we use art to save art? We can have an art show!” Sacino wrote in her entry.
The festival kicks off as Los Angeles Unified is reportedly weighing cuts to its music program. The district wants to cut in half the time that elementary school students are taught orchestra, according to a report by KPCC.
District spokeswoman Shannon Haber didn't respond to a request for comment about Los Angeles Unified's arts funding or the reported cuts. McCarthy said he was unable to easily detail the amount that the district budgets for arts programs.
In a statement, Superintendent John Deasy called arts a “powerful catalyst for learning and achieving.”
For more information about Arts Fest, visit lausdartsfest-lausd-ca.schoolloop.com.