Kicking off the second stage of a program designed to promote the arts in Los Angeles schools, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined with school officials and others Tuesday to show off bus advertisements and billboards for the "Arts Matter" campaign.
The goal of the program is to increase the number of arts programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District as well as introduce young people to the museums and other cultural facilities around the city.
"Within this downtown area, there are major museums and examples of world class architecture," Villaraigosa said at the event held at City Hall. "Yet, too many of our young people are not able to take advantage of it.
"What makes a great city? Is it the buildings and the skyscrapers? I say it is the people of the city and the creativity they bring to it."
The Arts Matter program is part of the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education campaign that began last year, with a goal of providing teacher training on how arts programs can be integrated into other class work.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said the arts should be part of all classroom work.
"There are no mathematics classes, no English classes, without art," Deasy said.
Megan Chernin, chairwoman of the L.A. Fund, said it was particularly important for Los Angeles to emphasize the arts.
"This is the creative capital of the world," Chernin said. "We should ensure that all our students receive a comprehensive integrated arts education. Creativity is the engine that drives the Los Angeles economy."
As part of the campaign, it was announced that Mattel Corp. has become the first corporate sponsor, with a donation of $300,000 to the program. In addition, it has received donations equal to $4 million from outdoor advertising companies that will participate in the public service advertising program.
Messages about the program will appear on 175 billboards, 12 city buses and more than 270 pieces of art on public displays such as bus stops. It was developed and coordinated by artist John Baldessari, who painted the buses yellow to serve as a reminder of school buses.
The theme of the program is "Learn to Dream," and features photos of a number of Los Angeles officials and artists from their school days. Villaraigosa is one of those featured, along with actor Tom Cruise, musician John Legend and director George Lucas.
The LAUSD has had to cut more than $1.5 billion from its budget, with many of the cuts coming in arts programs, officials said.
As a result only about 2 percent of class time is devoted to arts education for elementary students. The goal of the program is to integrate arts programs into other classwork.
Photos of LAUSD's new "Arts Matter" campaign courtesy of Facebook: Los Angeles Schools.
Kathleen Kennedy & Antonio Villaraigosa
John Baldessari School Bus