P.S. ARTS recently announced the launch of the Take PART (Public School Arts Regional Team) program in the Lawndale, Lennox, and Wiseburn Los Angeles County school districts. Take PART is an expansion of the Lawndale district arts initiative that has been supported with $1.7 million in grants from the Herb Alpert Foundation, and its goal is to facilitate arts education programs to benefit students and families in the districts. P.S. ARTS will lead the Take PART task force with school district leaders and other community stakeholders.

“Next year will be our 20th year that we have had P.S. ARTS,” said Kristen Paglia, the organization’s executive director. “We have been working with the Herb Alpert Foundation since the very beginning, as they were one of the founding funders of the organization. We have been working to restore arts programs that were cut and that still are being cut.”

In addition to the money the Herb Alpert Foundation has already given, it recently supplied another $220,000 grant in effort to provide Lawndale students with arts education and, within five years, to possibly help the school district to create a self-sustaining arts program. P.S. ARTS has been helping the district arrive at that point by teaching music courses for all students, and helping the district with grant-writing to acquire more essential funding.

The improvements that the Lawndale School District has made so far got neighboring districts interested in participating in the same types of programs, birthing the idea for the Herb Alpert Foundation, New Visions Foundation, and the Harmony Project to come together to pool their resources in efforts to span fundamental arts education to the entire region.

The Take PART project is a collaborative effort to streamline resources, increase arts opportunities and strengthen communities across neighboring school districts. The Harmony Youth Regional Youth Orchestra is the first major program of the Take PART project to be funded by the Herb Alpert Foundation. The new funding will provide hundred of students with after-school music instruction.

The orchestra now hosts “Big Bang” Saturdays, allowing family and friends in the neighborhoods to harmonize with 300 orchestra students every week all year long, in addition to the one to three times the students meet during school hours, hoping to put on their first concert next fall.

“Herb and Lani Alpert want all young people to have opportunities to reach their full potential. Music education is one way to provide those opportunities, and it’s a priority in all three districts,” said foundation president, Rona Sebastian, who is responsible for bringing together the Harmony Project, P.S. ARTS, and the New Vision Foundation.

“The foundation supports these three organizations. It is an opportunity to build on the rigorous arts program at Lawndale and create an innovative regional approach to arts education. The foundation also wants to set a precedent for regional arts funding, planning and programming,” said Sebastian.

The program is currently open to students in second to fifth grade, and the program will expand one grade each year in order to follow these students all the way through to high school.
For more information on Take PART and the Harmony Project Regional Youth Orchestra, visit www.psarts.org.