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Theater Arts Integration and Study in Continuation High Schools

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The Actors' Gang


A vital segment of TAG Education Department in-school programming is offered in continuation high schools where TAG attempts to disrupt the school to prison pipeline with its workshops and serve as a form of creative prevention for students who do not respond to traditional learning methods. TAG seeks funding for continued programming and a study on the impact of its workshops at Boyle Heights Continuation High School. A positive outcome with this group will prove the value of art programming in this high risk population.

Please describe the mission of your organization.

The continuing mission of The Actors’ Gang is to restore the ancient sense of the stage as a shared sacred space; introduce theater to children, helping them find their creative voices; and bring the freedom of self-expression to the incarcerated.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • Los Angeles Unified School District - Arts Education Branch
  • WestEd
  • Boyle Heights Continuation High School

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

TAG has a long-standing relationship with administrators and teachers at Boyle Heights Continuation High School. In addition, TAG has already had conversations with LAUSD Arts Education Branch and WestEd. Both are on board to cooperate in this effort. LAUSD-AEB has agreed to make data available to WestEd for research purposes. WestEd has indicated the interest and ability to conduct a one-year intensive study.

What is the need you’re responding to?

TAG-ED has been delivering integrated arts education workshops for more than 10 years. A vital segment of TAG-ED in-school programming is offered in continuation high schools where TAG attempts to disrupt the school to prison pipeline and serve as a form of creative prevention for students who do not respond to traditional learning methods. TAG-ED engages with students who live in under-resourced and historically marginalized communities. Many of the children we work with live in out-of-home care or experience unstable home lives; they experience economic, social, and personal hardships. Some are in foster homes, have been incarcerated, or have dropped out of school, and, therefore, are marginalized in the system. TAG-ED offers a way to express feelings in a productive, positive and creative manner, in a safe space where students won’t be judged.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

Our mission statement includes the objective to “introduce theater to children, helping them find their creative voices.” TAG-ED’s goal isn’t to create young actors, but rather to engage young people in a way that allows them to see themselves as an integral part of the world and the people in it, not separate from it. TAG is uniquely qualified to deliver programming to this population; Teaching Artists (TAs) are required to continually train in our unique “Style” as part of TAG’s Theater Company. TAG provides two mandatory, in-house trainings for all TAs to ensure they understand the unique issues and challenges which are encountered when working with a variety of populations. In addition to proficiency in the “Style”, cultural awareness and sensitivity training is required and imperative to the successful outcomes for this population. A fundamental principle at TAG is everyone should have access to the arts regardless of income or circumstances.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

Direct impact
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

In LAUSD there are 41 continuation high schools with an enrollment of 2,430 students. TAG-ED currently has the resources to offer programming in two of those schools. Having PROOF of the positive impact of programming will theoretically change the way resources and programs are delivered to this population impacting the students, their families and the community.

“Overall school culture has improved; students who do not relate positively or have had positive relationships in school have been able to cultivate an improved school experience while participating in the workshops.”

  • Wanda Helton Robinson, Principal, Whitney Young Continuation High School

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Classroom teachers consistently report a growth in empathy among students who have participated in TAG-ED programming. They also tell us that TAG-ED students are more apt to participate, receive better test scores and get along better with other students after participating in our programs. School administrators tell us that TAGs presence has a positive impact on the entire culture of their schools. Parents and guardians tell us that their children’s behavior at home improves after participating in our programming. The value of integrated arts education programs is well known; however, we are not aware of any studies that specifically studies the continuation high school population which, of course, are the most at-risk. A positive outcome with this group will prove the value of art programming in this population. Our vision of success includes additional programming and resources made available to these students through TAG-ED as well as other arts education programs. Empirical data to support our assertion that integrated arts education programming in this population improves attendance, graduation rates, pro-social behavior and social emotional learning is vital to acquire additional resources.

Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Arts education
  • High school graduation rates
  • Suspension and expulsion rates

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?

  • LA is the best place to CREATE

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community