Cynthia Campoy Brophy founded The HeArt Project in 1992 to address the lack of arts education programs for LA teenagers. The program began at Para Los Niños (a community center in Skid Row) and soon grew into the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Options program, which serves alternative education students. In 2002, The HeArt Project was approached by the Los Angeles County Office of Education to work with its alternative schools, and it expanded to 15 sites. By 2008, the program was in 25 sites and in 2010 a partnership with LACOE established Los Angeles’ first arts academy for alternative education students, the Hollywood Media Arts Academy.
Over the years, artworxLA has worked with 12,000 students at over 50 alternative education sites in eight school districts. It has partnered with every significant cultural institution in Los Angeles (including the Getty, LACMA, and the Hammer Museum) and its students have received scholarships at the top arts colleges in the area. In partnership with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, artworxLA has also established the first alternative education arts academy in Los Angeles. artworxLA alumni have published photography, launched creative businesses, worked as professional artists assistants, received certification in creative software and pursued college art degrees.
In 2012, we went through a re-branding process aiming to more effectively convey who we are and what we do. Our philosophy and methodology are the same, but we have changed our name from The HeArt Project to artworxLA, in order to better describe the work we do and the beliefs that guide it. We believe art works to combat Los Angeles’ dropout crisis. We use the rich cultural resources of Los Angeles to help us engage alternative education high school students in the arts. By partnering with cultural institutions, arts colleges, and creative industry professionals, we encourage youth to stay in school, earn their high school diploma, and pursue a plan for their futures.
In the coming years, artworxLA hopes to build upon past successes and expand its reach. In particular, artworxLA will focus on increasing the number of students completing the upper levels of the ladder program and graduating with a high school diploma, strengthening partnerships with post-secondary institutions, establishing additional alternative education arts academies, and effectively partnering with organizations that can help provide wrap-around services to support students’ needs.