Education, Arts & Culture

Los Angeles County: Through the eyes of local artists

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) recently unveiled its latest poster showcasing Whittier for its Through the Eyes of Local Artists poster series.

For this poster series, Metro commissioned local artists to create original artwork to visually portray the regions that make up Los Angeles County. The posters, which can be seen on 250 Metro trains and 2,400 buses, spotlight various regions and cultural landmarks of Los Angeles, from the Watts Towers to the parkland of Griffith Park and every community in between. Since the first poster featuring the parades and festivals of Pasadena debuted in 2003, the series continues to feature the iconic symbols of each region. The goal of the series is two-fold: first, to create a pleasant and visually stimulating environment for passengers and second, to increase ridership. Metro recognizes that art creates a sense of place and seeks to use art to encourage the public to use the transit system to travel to the many diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles County.

Through the Eyes of Local Artists has generated national recognition from Public Relations Society of America, Outstanding Achievement How Magazine, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Illustration Magazine, Transportation Marketing and Communication Association, Print Magazine Regional Design and the LA Society of Illustrators.

Five communities in the Second Supervisorial District are showcased in Through the Eyes of Local Artists. They include: Leimert Park, Watts, Exposition Park, Compton and Gardena. Now in its 10th year, the next installment of the series will feature Inglewood, Claremont, Pico Rivera, and San Fernando.

Empowering future leaders through dialogue: 2012 Empowerment Congress Youth Summit

While civil rights leader and activist Rev. Al Sharpton was speaking to a rapt audience at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium during the 20th Anniversary Summit of the Empowerment Congress, a gathering of a different kind was occurring across campus. A diverse group of 250 children, youth and chaperones convened the 2012 Youth Summit. Participants, ranging from first graders to high school seniors, engaged in a dialectic approach modeled after “Days of Dialogue,” a series of conversations between cultural groups born in the wake of the 1992 civil unrest. The day’s event was entitled, “Youth Empowered: Celebrating Our Heritage, Strengthening Our Community.”

Lead Facilitator Avis Ridley-Thomas and trained facilitators from the UCLA Institute of Nonviolence, along with the assistance of educators and volunteers from the Empowerment Congress Education Committee assisted the students, who were randomly assigned to small groups, as they navigated a series of questions about conflict and problem solving. Facilitators posed a series of questions taken from Youth Issues, Youth Voices: A Guide for Engaging Youth and Adults in Public Dialogue and Problem-Solving, including ones such as: What (if any) issues have arisen in your school/community between racial and/or ethnic groups? What is being done in your school/community to address problems between groups? What has worked? What’s not working well? What could we do to reduce conflicts between groups? And lastly: How can youth take the lead?

The goal of the event was to elicit open and frank discussion, and it did. Young participants shared their views and experiences on race, culture and issues of inclusion as it related to their families, school environment and peer groups. Some spoke of divisions and tension in their schools and neighborhoods. Most students referenced the similarities that exist among various groups, yet spoke of living within isolated communities and proposed increasing activities among youth and adults that serve to bring individuals together. The overall tone of the Youth Summit was uplifting. Students were addressed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheriff Lee Baca, as well as noted actor, author and activist Hill Harper. Harper caused a stir when he spoke, urging the youths to believe in themselves, assuring them that they can overcome whatever obstacles come their way.

“The perspectives gained from engaging our youth add significant value to the Second District,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. ” If we are to raise up a generation of future leaders who will positively contribute to our communities, we must unapologetically support and promote our youth.” As the 2012 Youth Summit drew to a close, students were buoyant and empowered to go forward as leaders in their schools and communities. The Education Committee plans to hold smaller dialogues with youth at local schools as part of the 20th Anniversary Year of Empowerment.

More than 18 schools schools and organizations from throughout the diverse tapestry of the Second District participated, including: Washington Preparatory High School, Morningside High School , Kayne Eras Center, Tongan American Youth Foundation, Century Center for Economic Opportunity Inc. (Youthbuild), J. Eldridge Taylor (JET) Foundation, Educating Young Minds, Verbum Dei High School, Brotherhood Crusade, Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and Animo Pat Brown High School.

Preschool Teacher of the Year nomination ends today

Early childhood education is vitally important to the maturation and development of all children and has a positive impact on the learning and long-term life outcomes of children. Preschool teachers lay the foundation and provide children with the social, emotional, and cognitive skills that they will need in order to be successfully transition into kindergarten and be successful in the later grades. Research has demonstrated that children who receive a high-quality early education are more likely to have a better quality of life than those who do not.

Since 2008, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP), has sponsored the Preschool Teacher of the Year Awards to recognize the contributions of preschool teachers in Los Angeles County. The award is given to five outstanding preschool educators (one from each supervisorial district).

Do you know a preschool teacher from the Second District who goes above and beyond to teach students? If so, nominate them for this award. The deadline for applications is November, 18, 2011. Applications can be obtained at

Watts Village Theater Company featured at Metro’s “More Trains More Often” launch

At the Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, Metro’s “More Trains More Often” Campaign was unveiled, to run trains more frequently in the evenings from 6pm through midnight. The extended service, set to begin November 13, will run every 10 minutes in the evening on the Red, Purple and Blue Lines through June 2012 during this testing phase. The added train service will extend to the 103rd St Station on the Metro Blue Line, the home of the Watts Towers Arts Center and Watts Village Theater Company (WVTC), making Watts a destination hotspot for Metro’s riders. In addition, the service will provide a cheaper, greener and more convenient transportation alternative for WVTC’s artists and audiences who travel in and out of Watts during evening rehearsals and shows.

WVTCs Raul Cardona betwen mascots from Chivas USA (left) and the LA Kings (right) at Metro More Trains More Often Event - Monday November 7 2011 - photo by David Mack-WVTC

WVTC’s Artistic Director Guillermo Avilés-Rodríguez, Managing Director David Mack, General Manager Rick Culbertson and Educational Instructor Raul Cardona represented WVTC during the event and assisted Metro in the logistical coordination of the other organizations representing their respective regions along Metro throughout the city. Many of the most popular venues are directly served by MTA rail, so running trains more often at night will make it easier for visitors to save money, beat traffic and have a good time.

WVTC’s partnership with Metro begin with its production of “Meet Me @Metro,” a site-specific extravaganza along Metro’s Red and Blue Lines from Union Station through Watts in collaboration with five theatre companies from LA and New York, in May 2010. During July 2011, “Meet Me @Metro II” took Metro riders on a “carnival” from Watts through Long Beach, exposing them to over a dozen local theatre companies, musical bands, puppeteers and performance artists. And in 2012, WVTC plans to launch “Meet Me @Metro: Uncovering Los Angeles’ Hidden Treasures” along Metro’s Red and Gold Lines, taking passengers on an interactive “archeological dig” in collaboration with performance artists, museums and historical societies in the region. Avilés-Rodríguez stated, “This media event is a powerful metaphor for what can be achieved when Transit and the Arts come together.”

WVTC plans to continue providing its artistic and logistical services to Metro and is committed to supporting Metro as it continues to roll out the “More Trains More Often” campaign and future Rail Line expansions during the next decade and beyond. For WVTC’s part, Mack stated, “Supporting Metro and the City of Los Angeles in this campaign is a wonderful hallmark of our ongoing strategic partnership to bring performing arts to the Metro riding experience, providing current riders, and an entirely new commuting audience, a taste of the cultural richness LA has to offer.”

Watts Village Theater Company
Founded in 1996 by actor and Watts community activist Quentin Drew and actor/playwright Lynn Manning as an outgrowth of Cornerstone Theater Company’s residency in Watts, Watts Village Theater Company is a multicultural urban company that seeks to inspire its community with an appreciation of all cultures through new works about contemporary social issues. WVTC has been a leader in providing acting and theatrical performance workshops for at-risk youth in Watts and South Los Angeles.

WVTC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, is proud to have collaborated with Metro, the Watts Towers Arts Center, LATC,[Inside] the Ford and the Matrix Theatre. WVTC’s 2003 production of Manning’s “Private Battle” won a NAACP Theatre Award. “Up From the Downs” (2005), and “Ochre & Onyx” (2009) received critical acclaim for examining cross-cultural relations between Latinos and African-Americans in Watts.

Workshops on how to apply for funding through the LA County Arts Commission’s organizational grant program (OGP)

Two free workshops designed to help L.A. County-based arts organizations craft successful applications to the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s Organizational Grant Program (OGP) have been scheduled in the Second Supervisorial District:

Wednesday, October 26, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Watts Labor Community Action Committee, Cecil Fergerson Gallery, 10950 South Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90059

Wednesday, November 9, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, Cabaret Room, 4718 West Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016

At the workshops, arts organizations considering applying can learn valuable skills for producing grant proposals as well as the details of the Arts Commission’s new electronic application system and changed grant guidelines. In an effort to provide more flexibility for OGP applicants during these challenging financial times, the Arts Commission now allows small and mid-sized budget applicants (OGP I, OGP II and OGP 2.5) to request support for their current organizational needs rather than projects relating to specific areas of organizational growth as required in the past.

The second section of each workshop varies. The Watts workshop on October 26 features a session on building strong arts education grant applications using the state Visual and Performing Arts content standards and quality curriculum samples. The workshop at Nate Holden Center on November 9 includes grants staff “office hours.” Staff will be available to provide guidance and answer burning grant application questions and provide information about other Arts Commission opportunities.

Additional grant application workshops in other Los Angeles County locations include:

Pasadena, Armory Center for the Arts, October 20
North Hollywood, Lankershim Arts Center, October 22
Long Beach, Homeland Cultural Center, Manazar Gamboa Community Theater, November 1
Pomona, dA Center for the Arts, November 5

To view complete details and register for a workshop, please visit:

(for electronic publications)

(for non-electronic publications), click on “Grants,” then “Workshop Schedule.”

New applicants and applicants that did not receive funding the last time they applied to the Organizational Grant Program are required to attend a workshop, but the workshops are designed to benefit L.A. County-based non-profit arts organizations of all sizes.

To access the OGP guidelines and application
(for electronic publications)

(for non-electronic publications)
visit and click on “Grants.”

Or email

OGP grant deadlines for the 2012-14 cycle are as follows:

For organizations with revenue of more than $1.5 million
Application due date: October 19, 2011

OGP 2.5
For organizations with revenue of $500,000 to $1,499,999
Application due date: November 2, 2011

For organizations with revenue of $100,000 to $499,999
Application due date: November 16, 2011

For organizations with revenue of less than $100,000
Application due date: December 7, 2011

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Laura Zucker, Executive Director, provides leadership in cultural services of all disciplines for the largest county in the United States, encompassing 88 municipalities. In addition to its grants program, the Arts Commission provides leadership and staffing to support the regional collaboration for arts education, Arts for All; oversees the County’s Civic Art Program for capital projects; programs the John Anson Ford Theatres; funds the largest arts internship program in the country in conjunction with the Getty Foundation; and supports the Los Angeles County Cultural Calendar on The Commission also produces free community programs, including the L.A. Holiday Celebration and a year-round music program that funds more than 70 free concerts each year in public sites. The 2011-12 President of the Arts Commission is Ollie Blanning.