There are approximately twenty different programs offering after-school media arts in Los Angeles County according to Arts For All. At Fairfax High School, classes in filmmaking, digital music production, script writing and set design are offered on a daily basis. And they are free.
Five hundred high schoolers signed up to take them this fall at Greenway’s Arts After School Program and I wanted to see what was happening, especially because Fairfax High has turned out many famous Hollywood alums, including Mila Kunis, Demi Moore, Larry Gelbart and Ricardo Montalban.
I anticipated finding hardworking, zealous students exploring Final Cut Pro, Adobe Photoshop and other new media technology classes. Courses I pay dearly for in the arts journalism program at USC Annenberg’s Journalism School, given to them daily at no cost? Yet the throng I expected at Greenway on two days in November never showed up. Five hundred may sign up but that’s no guarantee they’ll show up.
HeavenNezCree, a professional artist and the director of the arts after-school program, greeted me. Her rapport with the kids — about a dozen — revealed how much she cared about them as people, not just as students working on projects. She works with a faculty of professional artists who match her ambition to impart arts to as many students as possible. Some of that faculty, too, expected 500. But the core group of regulars consistently hovers around 20 or less.
What’s happening? Are the no-shows learning what is offered here online at home instead? What’s stopping them from participating in a program run by a woman with energy and passion to burn? I turned my video camera on and went in search of some answers: