The Music Center of Los Angeles (TMC) is far more than a complex of beautiful theaters that present music, opera, dance and theater productions. It is a non-profit performing arts organization with two divisions: TMC Arts, which provides year-round programming which included world-class dance with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, free and low-cost public concerts and events, as well as K–12 arts education programs along with workshops, performances, interactive experiences and special events on The Music Center Offstage. There is TMC Ops which manages the theatres, the Plaza and Grand Park on behalf of the County of Los Angeles. TMC is also home to four renowned resident companies—Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Master Chorale, LA Opera and LA Phil.
In addition, TMC is one of the largest arts education programs in the country, advocating “for the role of quality arts learning programs as part of the core curriculum for all students in Los Angeles County”. Performing Arts Center’s multi-disciplinary programs make it possible to bring the Arts into school and to all audiences with its virtual opportunities. Arts education plays a major role in TMC’s mission of community outreach and responsibilities to share all artforms with everyone from different cultures. Due to the new challenges of Covid, TMC has expanded its services by producing online educational content for teachers, students and parents. It includes, but not limited to, on-demand “Artivities” in English and Spanish for at-home arts learning and professional development for teachers, and there are pre-recorded and live virtual assembly performances for student video classrooms.
“Research and experience show that the arts can positively impact learning and understanding across all subject areas. As such, they are a critical tool to aid teachers and students who are continually adapting to the challenging circumstances of the pandemic,” said Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO, The Music Center. “With teachers juggling many duties and carrying extra burdens, The Music Center has curated new initiatives and adapted existing programs to meet this moment; our learning programs offer important insights to engage learners at every level through the imaginative power of the arts.”
“For nearly 11 months, educational leaders have had to reimagine traditional face-to-face instruction to provide remote learning experiences that address the needs and circumstances of all their students; that’s a huge learning curve for both teachers and students of all abilities,” added Keith Wyffels, associate vice president of education for The Music Center. “Working with our school partners, master teachers and artists, we have created innovative, highly relevant virtual programs to support educators in their own learning along with participatory content for their classrooms. We know the arts provide vital ways to engage, unite and connect us, which is what we need now more than ever.”
The arts experiences that TMC offers are designed for young people PreK-12, teachers and aspiring young talent, and it strives to reflect and represent the wide range of voices and interest which reflect L.A.’s rich diversity of cultures. These program that have been reimaged for the virtual experience include:
Created for young people and the young at heart, The Music Center’s Artivities series includes “how-to” arts learning experiences where participants learn and engage with many different art forms. Led by Music Center Teaching Artists and Music Center on Tour artists, these at-home workshops and performances introduce the public to the world’s diverse cultural traditions while inspiring creative thinking through entertaining and educational content.
The Music Center on Tour: Online
One of The Music Center’s long-standing arts education programs is The Music Center on Tour: Online, which has adapted educational performing arts assemblies into high-energy digital performances that invite students into the world of dance, music, theatre and storytelling. Each presentation includes a customized curriculum, in alignment with the new California Arts Standards, designed to complement and deepen what students are learning in the classroom, carried across cultures, styles and content areas. The Music Center on Tour: Online offers over 20 different options of pre-recorded performances and live virtual performances on Zoom for schools.
Arts Integration Partnerships
In collaboration with eight school districts across the county, The Music Center’s Arts Integration Partnerships use the skill of experienced teaching artists to empower student creativity and develop their artistic, workforce and life skills. Facilitated via Zoom with pre-recorded video and live engagement for more than 6,500 students, this new iteration seeks to deepen learning across the curriculum, working collaboratively with classroom teachers by combining dance, music, theatre, visual and media arts with content areas including English Language Arts, history, science and social emotional learning for students of all ages and abilities.
Helping teachers transition to distance learning and thrive during this period, The Music Center’s virtual professional development programs connect Music Center Teaching Artists with educators for customized workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions. The programs are designed to offer foundational skills and practical applications of how to integrate dance, music, theatre, visual and media arts across the curriculum. The Music Center’s 2021 Virtual Arts Integration Symposium for educators will be held from July 21-23, 2021.
Virtual Student Festivals
The Music Center’s enduring commitment to L.A. County school communities is exemplified through its time-honored free student programs that have been reconfigured as virtual celebrations, including The Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival (March 2, 2021), where young people from grades 3–12 across the county will experience a special performance by Dorrance Dance; The Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival Goes Virtual (April 16, 2021) that engages students of all abilities as artistic creators and contributors featuring student presentations and an online art gallery of student work. Details to be announced.
To date, The Music Center has served over 10 million students, educators and family members through in-school performances and residencies all throughout Los Angeles County, free festivals and matinee performances at The Music Center, professional development for educators and a wide range of arts learning experiences for young people of all ages and abilities.
Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Overview of The Music Center of Los Angeles – Courtesy of TMC