Jan 31st, 2013 | Sacramento:

As a new legislative session gets underway, students are taking a creative approach to advocating to keep arts, music, theater, and dance classes in California public schools. This week, the Student Voices campaign, launched by the California Alliance for Arts Education, provides a platform for young people to make and share creative videos demonstrating their creativity and passion for the arts directly with their elected officials.

“Young people offer creative, powerful evidence of the many ways that arts education empowers and equips them for a successful future,” says Joe Landon, Executive Director of the California Alliance, “We’ve created a platform for them to communicate that passion directly to elected officials.”

Through a partnership with the Tony Award Winning Berkeley Rep Theatre, the Alliance will engage members of Berkeley Rep School of Theatre’s Teen Council in the campaign. The Teen Council, comprised of a diverse group of teens (grades 9–12) who are interested in theatre and engaged in advocacy work, will participate in the campaign and help mobilize their peers and community to get involved.

Big New Ideas, the creative strategists behind www.DesignforObama.org, acted as pro-bono technical and creative advisers for the project. The campaign’s home base on Tumblr features a gallery of videos, a way to share videos with newly elected officials as well as online advocacy resources especially designed for young people. The campaign also a presence on Facebook and the California Alliance website.

The site also features videos from campaign partners Shine Global and Inner City Arts to provide imaginative examples of advocacy videos, including clips from the Academy Award-nominated documentary, Inocente, by Shine Global, telling the story of a girl who refuses to give up on her dream of being an artist, despite being homeless and undocumented; and My LA and Skid Row Dreams, videos created by Inner City Arts students.

The campaign will run until March 31st. The two students whose videos garner the greatest number of Facebook likes during the campaign will win Adobe software for their school and their videos will be featured at upcoming Alliance events.

In recent years, the budget crisis has caused year after year of cuts to public education. During that time, arts education has been disappearing from schools at an alarming rate. According to a survey conducted by the Legislative Analysts Office in 2009, 60% of school districts surveyed have cut arts programs and another 20% have eliminated them altogether.

The Alliance has assembled a strong and diverse team of partners for the campaign:

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Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Teen Council
Berkeley Repertory Theatre, recipient of the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, seeks to set a national standard for ambitious programming, engagement with its audiences and leadership within the community in which it resides. Through productions, outreach and education, Berkeley Rep aspires to use theatre as a means to challenge, thrill and galvanize what is best in the human spirit. Berkeley Rep School of Theatre’s Teen Council is comprised of a diverse group of teens (grades 9–12) interested in theatre from all over the nine-counties in the Bay Area. Teen Council provides the opportunity for teens to participate in all aspects of the dramatic process: on stage, behind the scenes, and as audience members. Through claimyourARTS initiative, teens develop advocacy and civic engagement skills by hosting trainings and conferences, visiting politicians on the local, state and national level, and mobilizing their peers and community around issues affecting arts education. For more information, click www.berkeleyrep.org/teencouncil or www.berkeleyrep.org/claimyourarts.

Inner-City Arts

Inner-City Arts, widely regarded as one of the nation’s most effective arts education providers, is an oasis of learning, achievement and creativity in the heart of Skid Row, and a vital partner in the work of creating a safer, healthier?Los Angeles. Providing access to the arts, Inner-City Arts is an investment in the youth of Los Angeles. Creating a bridge between the studio and the classroom, Inner-City Arts’ unique approach to arts education measurably improves academic and personal outcomes for children and youth, including those students with Limited English Proficiency who are at risk of academic failure. http://www.inner-cityarts.org/

INOCENTE is an inspiring coming-of-age documentary about a fifteen-year old girl, Inocente, in California. Though homeless and undocumented, she refuses to give up on her dream of being an artist, proving that the hand she has been dealt does not define her – her dreams do. Told in her own words and through her paintings, she reveals a world where buildings drip in yellow and orange, where pink and turquoise planets twinkle with rescued dreams, and one-eyed childlike creatures play amongst loved babies and purple clouds. http://www.inocentedoc.com/

California Alliance for Arts Education
The California Alliance is the leading state advocate for arts education in K-12 public schools. Working at the forefront of policymaking, public advocacy and coalition building, the Alliance champions standards-based visual and performing arts for all California children.  www.artsed411.org

For more information contact Sibyl O’Malley (626) 578-9315 ext. 102