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Why this nonprofit is taking Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA out of museums and into schools

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is taking over museums and galleries across Southern California, but visiting those venues isn't the only opportunity for students to interact with its content.

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA and the LA Promise Fund kicked off its opportunities for students to engage in art – like its student art contest – by bringing arts activities to over 300 students in the central courtyard at Manual Arts High School in South Los Angeles Wednesday morning. 

That was good news for Manual Arts High School senior Kimberly Gonzalez. She loves to draw, and would like to visit the visual art collections curated for PST: LA/LA. But, she might not be able to access them.

"I don’t know where’s the most local one, and sometimes my parents aren’t available," she said. "They work at night, so sometimes they have to sleep during the day, so I can’t depend on them to lose their sleep so they could do this for me."

The event was one way she could interact with the art, through Snapchat and guided activities.

"It’s like they’re noticing that these low-priority schools aren’t being interactive with these things because sometimes we don’t have the resources," Gonzalez explained. "So if we can’t go to them, they’re coming to us. And that's something new."

The event was just one of several ways LA Promise Fund hopes to bring the content of Pacific Standard Time to the city's most underserved students, along with offering professional development and curriculum for teachers, grants for creative ways to teach students about the arts, funding for field trips to the museums themselves, and a student art contest.

According to the LA Promise Fund website, winners of the contest will receive scholarship money.

"Like many things with school, when you take [students] away from the community setting, it can seem a little ivory tower," LA Promise Fund Chief Development Officer Claudia Keller explained. "We're trying to bring the arts back in a way that is accessible, authentic, and–lets face it–kinda fun for students, because art should be fun, but it should also be very empowering."

At the event, there were stations for music, magnetic poetry, creative writing, sketching, and graffiti. At each one, students were asked to consider the prompt: "L.A. is ____. Am I L.A.?" 

Students were instructed to complete the prompt "L.A. is ___. Am I L.A.?" using different mediums, including spray paint.
Carla Javier/KPCC
Students were instructed to complete the prompt "L.A. is ___. Am I L.A.?" using different mediums, including spray paint.

Towards the back of the event, a sheet was tied to a fence. Facilitators from Woodcraft Rangers, an after-school program, instructed students to paint words that explain what either Los Angeles or Latin America means to them. Within the hour, it was covered in green, blue, purple, and red words like "wild, "variety," "ugly," "free," "ghetto," and "young."

Manual Arts senior Ashley Acevedo considers herself more of a creative writer, but she picked up a can of spray paint for the first time and tried tagging the sheet. She wrote the word "diverse."

"I chose diverse because I feel like L.A. is changing into a more diverse place where there’s many cultures, many more things are being accepted now," she explained. 

She said she was excited to see the art brought to her school.

"They consider South Central a gang kind of city, so they didn't kinda give us a chance," she explained. "And the fact that [now] they’re giving us a chance is really an amazing shot because we can write. We can draw. We can do photography. It's a really good experience for us."