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In answer to the pressing need for sustained access to arts education in our public schools and the expressed interest of our UCLA Arts students wishing to explore the field of arts education as a possible career trajectory, the School of the Arts and Architecture inaugurated its first school-wide minor in Visual and Performing Arts Education (VAPAE) in May 2010.

This innovative program addresses an important need in the education of UCLA undergraduates and also provides high quality arts education experiences for K-12 youth and teachers in under-resourced schools and communities in Los Angeles. The VAPAE minor provides a sequence of courses designed to introduce up to 40 undergraduates to the key issues and methodologies in the field of arts education, in addition to introducing the students to a broad range of careers in the arts, including K-12 teaching, museum education, art therapy, teaching artistry and arts advocacy.

The VAPAE program builds upon the previous UCLA Arts ArtsBridge program, which served as the School’s pilot program in arts education from 1999-2009, dedicated to introducing undergraduate arts majors to the field. The VAPAE minor incorporates the core curricular sequence of ArtsBridge, and deepens it by requiring four additional courses, including two provided by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. VAPAE students explore core issues in arts education, creativity and social justice, with coursework that focuses on theory and practice for urban communities.

Through the VAPAE program, UCLA Arts students have the opportunity to refine their own creative abilities, develop teaching skills, and share their talent and commitment to the arts with the broader Los Angeles and southern California communities. Specialized faculty create curriculum targeted to the needs of the VAPAE program, and guest lecturers are invited to campus to share their first-hand knowledge as arts educators and teaching artists with our students.

The Arts Education Teaching Sequence, an important component of the VAPAE program, provides selected undergraduates with the opportunity to develop and implement original arts-based lesson plans under the supervision of an assigned K-12 guiding teacher. The majority of students participating in the VAPAE minor initially teach their eight-week sequential arts-based curriculum at the UCLA Community School, located in mid-town Los Angeles with an almost completely non-native English speaking student population. This school partners UCLA with the Los Angeles Unified School District and community organizations to serve K-12 children in one of central Los Angeles’ most underserved neighborhoods and is a model for how universities can work within current school systems to be a catalyst for change in urban education.

The VAPAE program requires extensive knowledge and expertise in the theory and practice of the arts, and accordingly, attracts UCLA Arts students with tremendous talent, dedication and a deep appreciation of the arts along with a strong commitment to building and strengthening our community.

History of Arts Education in UCLA Arts