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Arts Education in a Time of Crisis: COVID-19 in Los Angeles, 2020-2022


The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated a monumental transformation in public education as millions of K-12th grade students in the United States transitioned to online learning. I served as Programs Manager at an arts non-profit in Los Angeles during the height of the pandemic. My early conversations with school principals, classroom teachers, and colleagues in the arts illuminated the key question that guided my research: What happens to arts education during a time of crisis? My research documents the changes and adaptations of K-12 arts education programs in Los Angeles between 2020 and 2022, with a key focus on the development of virtual arts curricula during a precarious public health crisis. COVID-19 marks a critical moment in a longer history of arts education that has been shaped by past crises as well as complex social, political, and economic frameworks. My research is positioned within the vast context of K-12 arts education in Los Angeles with the intention of understanding how this time of crisis interfaces with ongoing challenges of access and equity. I offer insights on the impact of COVID-19 on K-12 arts education in Los Angeles through three case studies: 1) The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Itinerant Arts Programs; 2) The Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) Arts Education Program; and 3) The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Mobile School Program. Alongside discussions on funding structures and arts pedagogy, I begin to identify strategies that could support LAUSD and public school systems across the United States in delivering student-centered arts education during future crises. The implications of this research extend beyond COVID-19 and indicate a pathway toward strengthening the infrastructure of arts education to empower the next generations of students during and beyond times of crisis.

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