Tuesday, March 23, 2010

County's summer arts intern program funded



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March 23, 2010                                                                                                                      Contact:         Aurelio Rojas 213-280-6579

                                                                                 James Bolden 213-200-5314




LOS ANGELES – At the request of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board of Supervisors today averted the suspension of the County’s Arts Internship program this summer by allocating $250,000 to fund the program.

The money will fund 75 college internships – 45 fewer than last year – for college students chosen by non-profit community based arts organizations.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said the internship program provides these organizations “with an infusion of new energy, fresh, creative ideas and talent, and widens and deepens the pool of volunteers, staff, advocates and leaders necessary to continue to enrich the cultural sector of the County.”

“By funding this program, the Board also plants the seed of economic development for these organizations and the community in which they operate and serve,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

The program was slated to be suspended because of the County’s budget problems. In his March 19 report to the Board, the County Chief Executive Officer determined that loaning the money to program was “not a feasible option.”

But at Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ request, the Board voted to use money from the County’s Provisional Financing Uses fund for the $250,000 that will continue the program.

Since it’s inception, 1,292 paid interns have participated in this program, which provides on-the-job, relevant experience and exposure to these young adults.  A demographic report issued by the Arts Commission provides data from 2005, affirms the wide reach this program has extended across the County:

            Supervisorial District                                Number of Interns

            First District                                                                 86

            Second District                                                         151    

            Third District                                                              132

            Fourth District                                                              63

            Fifth District                                                                155

            Outside LA County or Unknown                                  48

            Total                                                                           635

While some of the arts organizations participate in the program include large organizations, many are smaller organizations, which provide direct services and culturally appropriate programs to the community in which they reside.

At a recent Board meeting, speakers representing the corporate and non-profit sectors, as well as former Arts Program interns, addressed the Board on the importance of maintaining the program that has a proven track record of developing much needed life skills in its participants. 

Gabriel Perez, a former Arts Program intern, praised the program for helping to change his life.  Laura Walters, who provides creative and visual arts services for people with developmental disabilities, said internships have been instrumental in helping participants work toward vocations with local radio stations

And Jim Hurr, a representative of the Boeing Company, declared the program is essential to help developing youth for a 21st workforce.

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