Exposure to great arts institutions have the potential to change and inspire life trajectories – encouraging students, whose access is too often constrained, to aspire alongside historic artists. When students from low-income communities interact with high-quality artistic expression – seeing a Warhol painting up close, or a powerful Shakespeare production or Latino street dance company piece – they have a visceral experience that communicates value and inclusiveness in a broader cultural community. An accumulation of these experiences becomes valuable currency in the strange new world of college, offering genuine points of connection to peers with different backgrounds, widening circles of friendship, and in turn makes college persistence more likely.
Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s top art and cultural opportunities. While many of the sponsoring institutions have graciously facilitated student visits, things like transportation to and from events, as well as food costs, continue to create a barrier for schools with limited budgets. This is an important gap that our Green Dot Ambassadors have stepped in to help fill. All 21 Green Dot Public Schools in Los Angeles join with Ambassadors at arts and culture events during the year, bridging gaps between zip codes through inspiring shared experiences.
Thanks to the generous support of our Ambassadors, Green Dot is able to provide one trip per school per year that includes bus transportation, pre-show dinner, and subsidized tickets to museums and theaters.
Recent Cultural Opportunities Inspire Students
Most recently, we partnered with the Wallis Center for the Performing Arts, who, with a group of Green Dot Ambassadors, also generously subsidized transportation and tickets, to bring the entire sixth grade of Ánimo Jefferson Charter Middle School to a dance performance by the Jacob Jonas The Company.
It was a profoundly moving experience for the students, who were inspired by the unique choreography and messages conveyed by the dancers. Reflecting on one piece that involved a series of acrobatic moves between Jacob Jonas and a female dancer climbing on each other to symbolize struggle and progress, sixth grader Janette Piedras commented, “I was impressed by the performance because it really connected with me and reminded me of my grandpa when I ran to him and he carried me back. This inspired me because now I would like to dance to express myself and how I feel.”
Students from Ánimo Jefferson with Jacob Jonas
On a visit to The Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles last year, students from Stephanie Lowe’s art classes from Ánimo Venice Charter High School enjoyed up-close access to some of the most provocative pieces in the Broad family’s collection. For several years at Green Dot, Lowe has pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in exposing her students to the arts.
On her class’ visit to the Broad, Lowe remarked,
“For my students, this trip reinforced what I’m teaching in class, notably understanding how the independent artist voice has profound value in our society. My students are shifting away from questions like ‘why would someone buy that?’ to having conversations about the value of what an artist has to say.”
The impact of our Green Dot Ambassador’s generosity and commitment to our students is simply immeasurable. Their impact continues to grow: in the works are plans to bring students to a performance of Native Voices at the Autry Museum of the American West, Twelfth Night at the Wallis, and visits to ESMOA, LACMA, the Geffen Playhouse, Center Theater Group and CAP at UCLA, to name just a few. If you would like to join these efforts to connect Green Dot students and Ambassadors to arts and culture in Los Angeles, please contact Kim Silverstein, Development Officer.