By Naomi Hernandez

In Shine Global’s film INOCENTE, we meet a 15-year-old girl living homeless and undocumented in San Diego.  She is able to overcome her circumstances and paint vibrant and whimsical paintings in an after-school program called ARTS. She’s lucky a program like it exists for her – but many other children who used to rely on the arts education programs being cut from their schools are now finding they have no where to turn. That’s why Abigail Berman’s organization Adopt the Arts is so important right now.

Abigail Berman, President and Executive Director of Adopt the Arts, just launched her organization this month along with the support of figures such as Matt Soros and Jane Lynch. Adopt the Arts raises money to keep arts education in public schools in Los Angeles and plans to bring artists, celebrities, and notable figures into the schools to host special events.

Berman grew up in Los Angeles and attended school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She lives in Los Angeles today, where her children now attend public school. She became actively involved with arts education when one of her kids first became a student and saw how the LAUSD budget cuts were affecting arts education. Having a vague idea about wanting to do something about it, she turned to movie producer friend Naomi Despres to brainstorm and later to rock musician and neighbor Matt Sorum. Sorum, who was involved in a nonprofit to bring music to under-privileged children, quickly jumped on board and formed with Berman Adopt the Arts.

Adopt the Arts enjoys the support of several notable figures. Actress Jane Lynch, another neighbor of Berman and Sorum, was approached to join and she now serves as a director of the organization. Other directors for the organization include musicians Lanny Gordola and Adrian Young, and the advisory committee for the organization includes such figures as Billy Bob Thornton, John Stamos, and Danny Masterson.

The organization’s fist event, hosted by Jane Lynch, was held this month, and around two hundred people attended, including LAUSD superintendent John Deasy. The event raised $100,000. The performers in the event consistently emphasized the cuts that have been made to arts education programs and stressed the value and importance of supporting these programs.

Berman remarked that the cuts that are being made are “…unacceptable, especially in a city where all of the arts are a major part of the economy.” In Southern California, one out of every eight jobs is in the creative industries, which makes the possibility of the complete elimination of elementary school arts program particularly problematic.

Due to budget cuts, schools are now required to “buy” art classes from the district, which isn’t possible for many schools.

Berman’s organization currently supports seven schools in the LAUSD, with Rosewood Avenue as its pilot school, but she expects that as the organization grows they will move to other cities. Currently, Adopt the Arts is working directly with the principal of the school and the booster club to ensure that the students get exposure to all of the arts’ disciplines. The organization will keep working to ensure that more children have the opportunity to fulfill the potential of their creativity and imagination.

For more information about Adopt the Arts, go to